Sunday 13th February dawned with brisk winds on the river Thames at Putney for the 11 Larks competing in the inaugural Down River Race, hosted by Ranelagh Sailing Club. The race, from Putney towards Westminster and back, was for the fabulous new ‘Designer’s Trophy’ as donated by the man who first drew the lines of a LARK, and long time Ranelagh SC member, – Mike Jackson.
As Wendy Price set the fleet away with the chime of the bell from the race box, it was Dan Watson - crewed by enthusiastic novice; Charlotte Bremer - who led to the first bridge in gusty conditions. However, it was Michael John Gifford, crewed by the highly experienced Sophie Mackley, who soon set the pace, breaking away, with Dan and Charlotte, from the rest of the fleet.
Back in the main pack, everyone was jostling for position, to maintain their racing line, whilst navigating safely under each of the 7 bridges. As the tide slackened, the turning mark was placed just under the iconic chimneys of Battersea Power Station, with M.J and Sophie first round followed by Dan and Charlotte with Chris Whitehouse and Ellie Bremer – spurred on by sibling rivalry – closing the gap on the leading two.
Just past Albert Bridge, in the confused winds alongside the house boats, Chris and Ellie managed to squirrel into the lead. They built on this to extend to a comfortable margin. Meanwhile, upstarts Dan and Charlotte were putting up a strong performance, holding off the wily M.J and Sophie, with family and friends cheering from the banks for a Bremer one two. But alas, it was not to be. With the more experienced boat using their last reserves of guile to sneak past at the final bridge on the approach to the finish line in Putney to steal second.
So as it was, with the competitors enjoying a lavish tea, Mike Jackson presented the ‘Designer’s Trophy’ to the winners, Chris and Ellie. A great day on river was had by all.
Thanks must go out to all at Ranelagh Sailing Club for generously laying on bacon butties in the morning and a 3-course afternoon tea after racing. Always we must thank Mike Jackson for donating a brand new trophy for the event.