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Minima Regatta 2017

by John Forbes 5 Sep 2017 00:57 PDT 2 September 2017
A Laser sneaks into the Solo lineup soon after their start on Saturday. 2581 is Diane Keighley, 4079 class winner Andy Banks at the Minima Regatta 2017 © Abdullah Hashim

Crews at the Minima regatta, which is sponsored by TWM solicitors, faced pretty well the full range of sailing conditions at Kingston at the weekend.

The two races on Sunday took place in a fading alleged northerly which puffed itself to nearly nothing, reversing several times in the course of the sensibly short laps in what felt like the last of the summer sunshine.

An endless stream of motor boats, with the patriotic assistance of 20 of the Dunkirk Little Ships, added wash to shake the wind from your sails and a lingering aroma of exhaust fumes to complete a bit of a nightmare for sailors on what was really a most beautiful afternoon.

Sunday was a different proposition, grey but still warm. The wind settled to a steady southerly and grew stronger as the day went on. It ended with a glorious blast recorded at a mean strength of Force 4, but at times much meaner than that, which upended Ben Marshall and Sel Shah's leading Merlin just before the start of the fifth race.

The surviving boats had an exhilarating race, experiencing thrills and near spills and the occasional hint of a planing run, a rare treat on the river. The only pity was that although the 20 boats on the water was in line with recent years there were few visitors: Twickenham was the only local club to support the event this year. Thames and Tamesis will no doubt be back. Of course the converse of that is that there are more Minima sailors making up the deficit, which can't be bad.

Back with the Merlins, Ben and Sel Shah's absence put Nick Armfield in with a chance, at that moment holding second place with another impressive performance for a relatively new arrival on the Thames, but Denis Lockwood took first in the final race after remaining upright thanks to some spectacular acrobatics by crew Erica Bishop (according to spectators), so Ben kept his overall lead.

In the Solos former commodore Andy Banks was never seriously troubled, after good results in the lighter airs, particularly after some of the fainter hearts decided the last blast wasn't for them. Novice helm Diane Keighley overhauled some of the wiser heads giving her advice on Saturday but could not hold a place. She had better luck on Sunday, taking second in the Ents crewing for John Forbes (your correspondent), behind the unbeatable Robin Broomfield and Paul Bloomfield who had four straight wins before doing the decent thing and helping out in the safety boats. It was bad luck that Alex Cane, Robin's most serious rival, was called away on family business and missed Saturday's races.

The handicap fleet was really a Laser contest, as Sailing Secretary Robin Broomfield observed at the prizegiving. Ali Banks took five straight bullets, the only helm to do so over the weekend, so it was not a nail-biting affair. Ed Mayley, holder of the grandly-named Turketine Cup as an expert Topper sailor and now in a Laser too, didn't make the Sunday races, so the jury is still out on how this duel will go in heavier winds. In his absence Keith Payne took second overall.

Sponsors TWM generously provided a bottle of wine for the class winners, glamorising the prizegiving somewhat, and for the second year Jerry Ingham provided the cool jazz on a rather too cool Saturday night, as the northerly moved in.

Overall Results:

Merlin Rockets
1 Ben Marshall, Sel Shah (both helmed)
2 Nick Armfield, Zoë Van Den Bosch

1 Robin Broomfield, Paul Bloomfield
2 John Forbes, Angela Caldara/Diane Keighley

1 Andy Banks
2 John Wilkey

1 Alastair Banks (Laser)
2 Keith Payne (Laser)

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