River Aln Boat Club
WELL, what a race. When the top five boats finish in the same minute after an hour or more of hectic action, you know it has been a race to remember.
Seven boats took to the line, the Enterprise of Steve Anstee and his daughter; Vago, Ed Price and crew; Blaze, Andrew Ackroyd; Mirror, Steve and Sheena Ellaby; Solo, Pete Hammond; Wanderer, Ted Lawson; and Laser, Ernie Harpur.
At the minute hooter, much activity was to be seen to the west of the start line. The wind, from the south west, gusting to probably 20 knots presented much to think about for the skipper. The absence of the commodore and the treasurer amplified the intensity as all skippers felt they could make hay while the wind blew.
As the hooter sounded for the off, Steve Anstee in the Enterprise, as usual, had timed it perfectly, whilse Andrew Ackroyd in the Blaze was off in hot pursuit.
The Solo was floundering about on the start line with the skipper frantically thrashing about on the tiller trying to get away. Behind this melee but no less urgent was the rest of the fleet.
The first mark, up by Church Hill was the initial target. The Enterprise could not cover everyone and allowed the Solo to creep past, but then held the line, forcing his opponent far deeper than he would have liked.
The Vago by this time joined in on the action and so, with the tide, the first four boats tacked upriver to the next mark.
Amid the competition, the Solo, seeing the mark in the distance set about getting the boat going as fast as possible but was called to account by the committee boat who pointed out that he had missed a mark of the course and was therefore forced to back track round it. Thus, the front four were reduced to three.
Alnmouth harbour is a wonderful place to sail a dinghy but when it is gusty, the skipper has to concentrate at all times.
Through the first three laps, the lead was exchanged between the Blaze and the Enterprise with the Vago waiting to pounce and capitalise on any mistake.
Behind the front boats all the rest were sailing superbly, Steve Ellaby with his wife as crew were having a fine race.
Judging from the squeals of delight, or was it fear, at the more than exciting gybe mark Sheena was loving her first race.
The Pan Leazes mark was the place for the excitement. Gybing at speed in gusty conditions taxed the nerve of everyone.
The Laser was seen to accelerate a couple of times very impressively. In the final lap, the leaders were heading west towards Pan Leazes mark when an exceptional gust came bowling across the water. Too late, the Wanderer was over! Those at the eastern end of the course waited with baited breath for the boat to come up but it wasn’t to be.
The Solo reached at high speed to the bank to lend a hand but the crew of the Vago completed an outstanding triple salco with twist off the high side to go to assistance.
The skipper of the Wanderer, who weighs all of seven stone wet through, and he was very wet, was to be seen hanging sloth-like from the centre-board trying with all his might to bring the boat up but to no avail. However, once assistance was available, the Wanderer soon established normal posture with the mast pointing skyward.
So the final lap of another exciting race came to an end and once the numbers had been crunched it was the Enterprise that claimed the glory.
It was a happy, though somewhat damp group, that then retired to the Red Lion to recall the events of the day.
The results once calculated were as follows: 1 Enterprise – Anstee; 2 Blaze – Ackroyd; 3 Solo – Hammond; 4 Mirror – Ellaby; 5 Laser Vago – Price; 6 Laser one – Harpur; 7 Wanderer – Lawson.
The next race will commence at 1pm on Sunday, May 29.