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Enterprise and Solos at Minima Yacht Club

by John Forbes, Minima Yacht Club on 9 May 6-7 May 2017
Ents line up on Kingston Riverside for the Firkin Trophy © Nick Armfield

A northerly is a rare pleasure at Minima, sitting as the club does on a north-south reach of the Thames at Kingston, plagued by the prevailing south-westerlies.

But to have this excellent wind for two days in a row was a real treat, particularly as on May 6th and 7th we had the good luck to be hosting boats from no fewer than 12 other clubs for two days of competition in near-perfect conditions for river sailing.

On Saturday it was Minima's turn to host the Firkin Trophy, the long-standing team race against Twickenham sailed in Solos and Enterprises. The straight-up-and-down breeze, getting towards force 4 at times, should have eliminated any local advantage, but Minima dealt with their old rivals quite ruthlessly, winning 6 – 0.

The trophy is a thing of beauty, a miniature half barrel carved with the date 1938, under a silver sail. But the real prize, enjoyed by winners and losers alike, is a real firkin of London Pride, donated by Fullers in what must be one of the oldest and most excellent sports sponsorships.

Minima's victory was not to be repeated the next day, when representatives of the other 11 clubs turned up for the local legs of the Enterprise Thames Valley Bowl and the Solo Thames Valley series.

In the Enterprises the old guard reigned unchallenged, with David Beaney winning in straight sets as it were, with three firsts, only headed for the first couple of laps of the first race while he got the hang of the course and conditions. The usual suspects battled it out for the other podium places, with Steve Collins taking second, Phil Chambers third and Lensbury's Chris Rowsell fourth.

There were ten Ents, and 13 Solos, nearly twice the numbers that turned up the last time the circus came to Minima, and credit is due to Deborah Bishop and her team in the race box, who never missed a beat.

The Solos travelled in a fleet stretching boom to boom across the river at times as the back markers caught up on the run, presenting the Ents with an intimidating cloud of sails to pick their way through on the beat. The Solo results were extremely close. Simon Derham had the thin end of the luck, losing to overall winner Andrew boyce by two seconds in the second race, and then falling back to third after Paul Playle pipped him by four seconds in the final race. Andrew Wilson from Maidenhead was fourth.

With a straightforward wind the places in both classes went to those closest to perfection in boat handling, with slick mark rounding and well-timed gybes paying off (this the opinion of one signally lacking these skills), particularly in the final two races, when the distance between marks was shortened as the wind slackened.

Overall Results: (top three)

Enterprises (full results here)
1 David Beaney and Sarah Hirst-Malin (Wembley)
2 Steve and Kathy Collins (Minima)
3 Phil Chambers and Alexandra Parker (Hampton)

Solos (full results here)
1 Andrew Boyce (Papercourt)
2 Paul Playle (Island Barn)
3 Simon Derham (Littleton)

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