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Minima Yacht Club Regatta 2021

by John Forbes 6 Sep 2021 22:17 PDT 4-5 September 2021
Swans, sails and a Mississipi style paddle steamer – this could only be the Thames. Minima competitors hugging the west bank at Kingstonat the Minima Regatta © Rob Mayley

After a fortnight of grey skies and steady north winds, a sailor's delight on the Kingston reach, Minima Yacht Club's 2021 regatta, sponsored by TWM solicitors, had a fluky easterly to contend with. Mind you it did get a bit warmer.

Dealing with bonkers winds is one of the special challenges of sailing on a river where blocks of flats and tall trees interfere and rotating the start line 90 degrees is just not an option. This easterly was a treat. The trick is to hug the western bank and sneak along trying to avoid having to tack, unless of course the centre of the river turns out to be a better bet, and be ready for a southerly shift to turn your run into a beat, and back again.

What is required is flexibility and agility, mental as well as physical. But at least there was wind: enough on Saturday to tip Lasers over during the briefing, and one particularly vicious gust capsized Andy Banks's winning Solo.

A nicer surprise was the reappearance of summer between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

There were 23 boats on the water, in line with recent years, with 11 much-appreciated visitors from our good neighbours at Thames, Tamesis and Twickenham. There was thought to be a record attendance for the barbecue and jazz which is Minima's regatta tradition. Band leader Matt Sulzmann was unwell (we send our best wishes) but his colleagues sounded as cool as the breeze on the balcony as the evening wore on.

Despite the fluky wind which could gain or lose you a 50 metres in as many seconds, racing was close, with two dead heats on the finishing line and tie breaks to decide both the Solo and Enterprise class winners.

After a few years' absence it was good to see a Thames Rater back at Minima, although Matt Kyte sailed down from Thames SC in the only boat competing for the Rater Salver.

The Ents were the biggest class, with eight entries, although never all on the water at once, due to rival engagements. If all Minima's Laser sailors had turned up they would have won the numbers game, reflecting a slightly younger profile at the 132-year-old club.

The seven boats from Tamesis provided most of the Lasers and Merlins, winning both classes. Tim Medcalf was pushed into second in the Merlins by clubmate Andy Harris, but son Ed, the youngest competitor by some years, won the new sailors handicap, crewed by his father in the family Merlin. Ed's big brother Henry Medcalf took 3rd in the Lasers, behind Tammy's Chris Taggart and Stewart Colley.

The home club held its own in Ents and Solos, locals Ed Mayley and James Budden winning the Ents for the second year running, with Alex and David Cane just a point behind. James getting a chorus of Happy Birthday to go with his souvenir glass. Andy Banks pipped John Wilkey on a tie-break in the Solos.

Reflecting Minima's growing population of paddlers, for possibly the first time since canoe races at the club in the late 1800s, the final race on Saturday was a paddlers sprint round Raven's Ait (Ait is Thames-speak for islet) about half a mile upstream. Setting off in a flurry of spray, they returned puffed out, into a controversy over handicapping, and the contest will be rerun shortly.

Overall Results: (Minima unless stated)

1 Ed Mayley and James Budden
2 Alex and David Cane

Nick John (National 12)

1 Chris Taggart (Tamesis Club)
2 Stewart Colley (Tamesis)

Merlin Rocket
1 Andy Harris and Matty Key (Tamesis)
2 Tim and Ed Medcalf (Tamesis)

Matt Kyte, Niamh Higgins and Adrian Hart (Thames Sailing Club)

1 Andy Banks
2 John Wilkey

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