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Enterprise and Solo open meeting and Firkin team race at Minima Yacht Club

by John Forbes 29 Apr 00:09 PDT 24-25 April 2021
Sparkling weather before a Solo start in the Firkin Trophy team race between Minima and Twickenham © Nick Armfield

Saturday's entertainment, in slightly milder conditions than Sunday proved to be, but still brisk, was the Firkin team race, a fixture between Minima and Twickenham which has been running since 1938, enhanced by the prospect of a firkin of London Pride at the end of racing, provided along with the beautiful half-barrel trophy, with the compliments of Fullers brewery which is continuing a fine tradition as part of Asahi Europe.

Minima YC, Kingston upon Thames, hosted the event. After two races honours were even, Twickenham's Solos were two up, so were Minima's Enterprises. The decider went to Minima in both classes. It might have been a different story if Gill Timmis's Ent in the Twickenham team hadn't bust a halyard and missed the first two races before winning the third by a distance.

Sunday brought a shifty north-easterly laying down some serious gusts at times, for the Enterprise and Solo open meetings. Minima's north-south stretch of river does not sail particularly well in any sort of easterly, the game being mainly to avoid tacking and hang on to a reach when heading either up or downstream, one reach close the other broad.

On this urban bit of Thames, nothing is straightforward, and the turbulence from riverside buildings was highly unpredictable, particularly if a lift lured a helm anywhere near the upwind Kingston side, where a combination of holes and slamming gusts awaited. And if you got too near the other, windier, Middlesex bank a shallow punting ledge caught your centreboard. Pure pleasure.

Despite the gusts and shifts the main thing is there was plenty of wind, the best of it on the Sunday, when Minima hosted Thames area Enterprise and Solo opens. Six Ents and five Solos competed, with quite a few helms from Minima and elsewhere deciding for various reasons that they were better off staying in the dinghy park.

It's hard to estimate the strength after the event but the Met Office was forecasting Force 5 gusts. They were enough to upset a couple of the Solos, one in the last race managing as it went over to remove the mainsheet of Nick Titley from Twickenham, who might have achieved a better result without this mishap.

Minima's Solos did not venture out, and visitors had the race to themselves, with Roger Bennett from Silver Wing and Godfrey Clark from Fishers Green exchanging the lead on alternate laps, Roger coming out first by a very few seconds. Paul Playle, from Island Barn just up the road from Kingston, managed to get between them to take 2nd in the first race.

A couple of Minima helms joined in the Enterprise fun, your correspondent just about managing to stay the right way up, however familiar names dominated the results, with Nigel and Andy Bird taking three firsts, followed in each race by Burghfield's Anne Jackson crewed by Alan Skeens, with Phil Chambers and Alexandra Parker coming in third for the first two races before deciding to stay on dry land for the third.

Enterprise Open (Thames Valley Bowl Series) results:

1. Nigel and Andy Bird (RYA)
2. Anne Jackson/Alan Skeens (Burghfield)
3. Alex and David Cane (Minima)

Solo Open (Thames Valley Series) results:

1 Roger Bennet (Silver Wing)
2 Godfrey Clark (Fishers Green)
3 Paul Playle (Island Barn)

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