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54th Medway Marathon

by Tim Townsend 2 Aug 2017 10:04 BST 30 July 2017

The 54th running of the Medway Marathon was hosted by Medway YC on Sunday 30th July. The inshore forecast during the preceding week had promised a variety of different sailing conditions for race day, but mostly windy.

In the event, the race started in a fitful westerly force 2 which increased steadily during the day until the late finishers were crossing the line in a healthy force 4-5.

The course of approximately 26 miles takes in the tidal river Medway from Upnor downstream to the mouth of the river and return visiting various creeks along the way. For junior sailors there is a half marathon.

The weather forecast certainly deterred a few entries, but nevertheless 44 boats entered the event with everything from Musto Skiffs and Altos at one end of the performance range down to Toppers and RS Fevas at the other with an eclectic mix of dinghies and keelboats in between. Wayfarers were the largest single class but Blazes and Musto Skiffs were also well represented. As the conditions hardened during the race there were a few retirements, but most boats coped well with the conditions, especially the leading Skiffs which dominated the podium after times had been corrected. The race between the two lead Skiffs was especially close as Andrew Peake capsized several time near the finish of the race as he tired and was nearly caught by Graeme Oliver. Andrew did enough to take line honours and the race on handicap, retaining the title he won in 2016 in an International 14 (with Graeme Oliver as crew).

Alistair Bolton, helming the Sonata Red Dwarf II, won the junior prizes. Christine Halliday-Sadler won the prize for first placed lady helm.

Below are two reports from competitors which reflect the drama, fun and competition of the race, the first from Jon Moon the crew of Moonshine which was first placed Wayfarer in equal fourth place overall on corrected time.

"The weather forecast for Sunday was pretty breezy on Windguru all week giving rise to mixed feelings. Some among the Squib fleet viewed this with horror although many others including ourselves thought the SW F4 gusting 5 should be the top end of fun. The field of 44 boats was a great turn out for this event and just reward for the effort that goes into organising a long race like this.

At the start the keel boats assembled on the line in good time and set off down Heartbreak Reach with the wind behind them and all kites flying. We had three Squibs, a Dragon, a Sonata and a couple of others making an interesting mixed fleet.

On Moonshine, we had a busy preparation period fixing some damage incurred while inverting off Folly point the previous week. A make shift Meccano Windex topped our mast to temporarily replace the one stuck in the bottom of the Medway mud. Making haste we managed to get into the water about 10 minutes before the first signal and watched from the water as a traffic jam formed on the hard. At the preparation signal, one boat was still on its trolley and was subsequently disqualified following a protest.

The Wayfarer start went off without further incident with all boats flying kites. Hercules Hound got a good start and led the way with Richard Stone in the boat with no name following closely. Moonshine was in the third rank with only one boat behind and our Meccano Windex proving a bit insensitive with the wind behind. Few place changes occurred with the fleet fairly closely bunched on the long run down to 16. Entering Otterham Creek was a close reach with the mud close at hand and we had to bear off a number of times when the centreboard popped up to let us know how shallow we were.

At Otterham Fairway Buoy we managed to pick up a couple of places from Devil's Advocate and Wild Thing and joined the fun bearing away onto a fabulous beam reach which saw most boats planing at top speed all the way back out into the main channel. Around this time we saw a gaggle of Musto Skiffs streaking along as the fast handicap boats made their way through our plodding ranks and we began to suspect this might not be our day.

At buoy 13 we gybed at top speed with this crew losing his hat to a close shave with the boom and headed off towards Queenborough on a pretty dead run. Fortunately the hat was found in the bilges and places remained fairly static towards our passing mark opposite the LNG Gas Terminal. Moonshine and Quicksilver made some ground on Happy Ever After and arrived at the leeward mark three abreast.

On the long beat back, weight started to count to keep the boat flat and my investment in chips in the staff canteen paid back as we began to pick up places. Quicksilver slipped back a bit and Happy Ever After had a capsize, although they recovered well later. Devil's Advocate also accelerated and we started to see them regularly on crossing tacks.

Coming out of Stangate creek we had a moment of suicidal optimism when we launched the kite with the wind on the beam only to be nearly capsized in the attempt. Devil's Advocate slipped through and chastened, we carried white sails the rest of the way home.

Along Long Reach we managed to overtake the boat with no name, staying in the channel as the tide had turned by this point. Whizzo, who had been in the top three most of the way, had an unfortunate swim when Hercules Hound crossed them on starboard and put them about. Hercules Hound maintained their lead through the forts and extended slightly in Gillingham reach while we pursued in second.

Heartbreak Reach provided no place changes but plenty of drama as the wind gusted and swirled through the gaps in the buildings causing us to dive across the boat on several occasions.

As we crossed the line, Brian and Liz in Hercules Hound were greeted by an ominous lack of hoot from the race box. Remember the traffic jam on the hard? After the protest was heard, Moonshine was promoted to first Wayfarer and first MYC boat after a fantastic day of sailing.

Many thanks to the safety fleet and cruisers from MYC who were present at the various marks, keeping an eye out for trouble. This is a tough event to organise and cover but is a great fun break from the norm and a chance for us all to sail in some reaches of the Medway we would not normally see. Long may it continue!"

And the final report comes from Graham Halliday-Sadler, the crew of Avocet, the best placed Squib in 16th place overall.

"Two Squibs came to the line at 10.10 on Sunday followed by a third at 10.12. We started on a strong ebb with a fickle SSW. with a motley fleet of dinghies and our friend Simon in Hester (Hawk 20). We started with Avocet in the lead, followed by Hester and Blackmark. As we crossed the line we met Paul and Mike in Winsome coming towards us; they had evidently spent too much time on the club terrace and not enough time in the boat before the start. At Mears, Blackmark, Hester and Avocet closed up and again at Folly by which time Hester had taken the lead with Winsome bringing up the rear a little way back. These positions remained the same with the gaps getting ever bigger until Hester did a 720 near Folly on the way home as Simon was unsure whether he had caused a Wayfarer to capsize and took the safe action. This enabled us to close down on Hester but she held on to lead the Squibs home with a comfortable lead.

The race down river was splendid, spinnakers were up for the whole trip to South Kent with the exception of the excursion into Otterham Creek and with the tide under us, we flew down to Sheppey. Once we turned around Queenborough Spit things changed, with the wind over an increasing flood a steady chop built up. At buoy 13 it was quite wet and on the way home we saw several dinghies capsize. By the time we arrived at the power station (perhaps we should now call it the chimney as that is all that's left) the chop had eased and we all dried off on our way back to the line."

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameBoat TypeSail NoHelmCrewClubPYResult
1st Musto Skiff568Andrew Peake Wilsonian SC8471
2ndBurger VanMusto Skiff539Graeme Oliver Wilsonian SC8472
3rd Musto Skiff419Richard Smith Wilsonian SC8473
4thAegirAlto110Timothy KiftJo WickenWilsonian SC9174.5
4thMoonshineWayfarer10618Tony AlexanderJon MoonMedway YC11024.5
6thStill Crazy After All These YearsWayfarer10974Richard StonePhil StaceyMedway YC11026
7th International Canoe265Mark Goodchild BCU8937
8thDevil's AdvocateWayfarer1759Roger GibbsStan BenwellMedway YC11028
9thQuicksilverWayfarer10947Stewart ColtartCatriona ColtartMedway YC11029
10th RS Feva290Ian FoxwellHannah FoxwellMedway YC124010
11thWhizzoWayfarer11170Tom PygallSam PygallWilsonian/Whitstable110211
12th Alto117Chris AshbyIan ParrisWilsonian SC91712
13th Streaker1940Doug Horner Wilsonian SC113713
14thHappy Ever AfterWayfarer11118John GoudieBrian WhiteWilsonian SC110214
15thWild ThingWayfarer10875Mike PimmPeter DilleyMedway YC110215
16thAvocetSquib515Christine Halliday‑SadlerGraham Halliday‑SadlerMedway YC114216
17thYNOT 3914Simon OwensMark Owens/Tony OwensMedway YC112017
18thKiloK1120Tony Hunt Wilsonian SC106818
19th Musto Skiff160Grahame Smith Wilsonian SC84719
20thFirestarterFire648Stuart Bailey Medway YC106320
21stHesterHawk 20234Simon WhiteleyDavid ConnearnMedway YC112421
22nd Blaze547Adam Hampton Wilsonian SC102322
23rd 200021914Andy HockeyRachelle MackenderWilsonian SC110723
24th RS400963Adam WhitehouseTim TruinWilsonian SC94224
25thHard TackWayfarer7899Jonathan HoodHugo DavisMedway YC110225
26thRed Dwarf IISonata8087Alistair BoltonZoe Hill/Rob HillMedway YC103826
27thBlack MarkSquib873Mark RowntreeDavid BlackMedway YC114227
28th Miracle3829Martin McKayIsabelle HillWilsonian SC121028
29thGandalfDragon726Edwin HannantSue HannantMedway YC98629
30th Blaze609Stewart Robertson Wilsonian SC102330
31st Blaze587Andrew Picknell Wilsonian SC102331
32ndFish AliveK1123Julian Leggett Weir Wood SC106832
33rd RS200345Martin LownColin LownIsland Barn SC104733
34th Laser192840Nick Hawkins IOSSC109734
35thSpookyLaser EPS208Mark Candelas Milton Keynes SC103035
36thWhite NoiseSonata8361Victoria WrightLucian Stone/Camilla Hobart‑SmithMedway YC103836
37th Supernova603Richard Metcalfe Bosham SC107537
38thWinsomeSquib748Paul StudartMike WebbMedway YC114238
39th Laser165310Jon Silk Medway YC1097DNC
39thKitKatTopper30130Morgan Glass Medway YC1347DNF
39thHercules HoundWayfarer10686Brian McKenzieLiz McKenzieMedway YC1102DSQ
39thPipByte CII2624Elena Balycheva IOSSC1147DNF
39thScout 00TTim FroudAndy EakinsMedway YC1078DNF
39thVyrusV30003605David FenechAlison WilliamsWilsonian SC987DNF

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