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'Kissing the Queens Promenade' Thames A Rater Tuesday evening racing

by Ben Palmer 23 Apr 2017 09:36 BST 18 April 2017
Racing during the Thames Sailing Club Vintage and Open Regatta © David Dixson

Four A Raters took to the River Thames at Thames Sailing Club, Surbiton for the 3rd Tuesday evening of the season. The boats and teams didn't quite know what they had let themselves into that evening as it turned into carnage with the sound of breaking wires, cracking wood and fibreglass with two Raters colliding along the Queens Promenade.

The conditions were a moderate breeze from the north east, sunshine, but a little chilly. The course was a beat past the island of Ravens Ait where the teams could choose which side to go up, towards a windward mark at Kingston and then down past the island to the leeward mark.

Ulva (1893 built wooden Rater) helmed by Ben Palmer, crewed by Matt Hanaby and Maria Stanley took the early lead. Closely followed by David Franks, Dicken Maclean and Tom Harrison in the newly refurbished fibreglass Rater Strait Dealer, and Paul Browning, Justin Dunn and Hermione Stanley in Osprey (fibreglass 1980s). Nipping at their heals was Lady Jane (fibreglass 1980s) helmed by Sam Eversfield, Adrian Dyball and Alec Bounds).

Going into the second lap, Strait Dealer passed Ulva on the upwind with some clever use of river traffic and a good shift. Ulva chased the rampant Dealer on the downwind resulting in one of the funnier moments of the night when Dicken popped up like a meerkat trying to guess which side Ulva was going past the Island, for Ulva at the last minute to gybe away to cause a split past the island. Resulting in the Dealer having to defend from both Ulva and Osprey coming into the leeward mark.

Onto the final beat, the Dealer got away and the battle for second place had begun. Osprey nicked in front of Ulva on the upwind. Smarting, Ulva went on the attack downwind. The gybing duel resulted in carnage with both boats colliding with each other and the steel sheet piles of the Queens Promenade. The sounds of wood and fibreglass was horrific, and the wounds weren't pleasant. The two boats limped ashore.

The drama continued. Looking back, Strait Dealer thought the two boats went in because they had finished and metres from the leeward mark they turned around and came ashore, leaving the quiet Lady Jane to wrap up the victory in an eventful evening. It's never over until the fat lady sings comes to mind!

The bar was full of chatter late Tuesday night as stories were recounted. We hope Ulva and Osprey will be back fighting for next week to continue in the competitive, glamorous racing on the Thames on a Tuesday night. Visitors are welcome on Tuesday nights with racing starting about 7pm each week until mid-September. Check our website,, for more details.

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