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K1 Long Distance Race at Tewkesbury Cruising & Sailing Club

by Hilary King 8 Jun 2022 06:14 BST 3 June 2022
K1 Long Distance Race at Tewkesbury © Suzanne King

The K1 Long Distance Race was held at Tewkesbury Cruising & Sailing Club on Friday 3rd June. The Race starts at the club and continues down river for four miles, which includes going under the M5 motorway bridge and finishes at Severn Sailing Club. The race then returns after a welcome lunch break from Severn Sailing Club to Tewksbury Sailing Club. Both elapsed times are added together, and places can then be awarded accordingly.

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee was celebrated by all the competitors dressing their boats with Union Jack flags, bunting, stickers and even a nodding bulldog!

Heather Thompson kindly judged the competition and despite heckling chose a popular winner in Nick Hoskins. His prize would have to wait as the race beckoned.

The start was opened at 11am by race officer Matt Thompson and competitors could start at any time for the next 15 minutes. This starting window was the first discussion point as you could go early to avoid dirty wind, wait for a gust to hit before starting or alternatively wait until last so you can see all your competitors ahead. The light ENE was forecast to slowly increase through the day and swing more towards the East. This ensured a beat down the river and an off wind return leg.

A group of four boats which included Ian Duke (Datchet Water), Geoff King (Tewksbury), Grant Brown (Tewksbury) and David Pritchett (Rutland) started early, and the clear wind seemed initially to be an advantage as the front runners developed a healthy lead. Places were changing regularly at the front with Ian and Geoff choosing the leeward bank and picking up consistent lifts.

However, the very scenic River Avon was to deal a cruel blow to the front runners as the wind just disappeared allowing a fast Hilly King (Frensham) to join the party.

Grant opted for the windward shore and seemed to get his own personal breeze and soon developed a healthy lead.

Nick Hoskins (Tewksbury) had also started further back with Hilly and was convinced hugging the bank would eventually pay dividends. The sight of all the Jubilee dressed boats was just stunning and the encouragement from those on the shore together with the following cruiser fleet is something which will live long in the memory.

Choosing to start towards the rear were Phil King (Nantwich and Borders), Jason King (Datchet Water) and a welcome return to the fleet of Gordon Keyworth (Wimbleball). These three seemed to have made the better choice now as the leaders were making slow progress to the M5 motorway bridge.

It is unnerving sitting in little wind seeing those who have started very much later seemingly having a steady breeze to work their way down the river.

The down river leg was to be a test of fitness and stamina especially for those not used to tacking so frequently on the narrow river. The other river obstacles such as Lily pads, narrow boats, not so narrow boats, canoeists and overhanging trees increased the number of tacks required and kept you very alert to your surroundings.

Jeremy Hudson (Frensham) meanwhile started towards the end of the starting window and as a result started in a slightly more consistent breeze. His decision to start at the back also meant he had greater river traffic coming in the opposite direction to negotiate.

At the front Grant tacked very smoothly and seemed to pick up every lift whilst Geoff and Hilly worked hard to reduce the lead. Interestingly the whole fleet seemed to have times when they were making significant advances, but it was clear Jeremy was quick and not sitting in the lulls which others had experienced.

Grant continued his blistering pace and, as Severn Sailing Club came into view, he clearly had a commanding lead. Hilly broke free of Geoff but Jeremy continued to make rapid progress.

At the finish it was no surprise to see Grant had won the downriver leg, Jeremy second and Hilly third.

After a welcome lunch break the fleet set off on the return leg. As Matt opened the starting window Jeremy was waiting and set off in clear wind. Shortly afterwards the vast majority of the fleet seemed to make a joint decision to start together which is quite a sight, seeing five or six K1's abreast on a relatively narrow river.

Hilly waited until the majority had departed, leaving just Gordon and Grant left to start. Place changes were again frequent, Geoff broke free of the majority of boats but by now Jeremy had a significant lead. Hilly caught the fleet by the M5 motorway bridge and unfortunately Ian ran aground before deciding to investigate the bridge further.

Gordon followed by Grant started towards the end of the starting window and the race was on to see who the overall winner would be. Those two made rapid progress for the first half of the course and it looked that the late starting strategy was correct.

At the front Jeremy had established a significant lead and was enjoying the conditions. Geoff continued to make good progress closely followed by Hilly and Jason. The spectator fleet watched as Grant again was making excellent progress although Gordon was keeping him honest. Jason decided to take a significant number of Lily pads for a ride on his keel stopping his forward progress, allowing Phil to start his charge.

At the finish Jeremy crossed first with a significant lead followed by Geoff and Hilly. Grant continued to impress and the meeting was clearly going to be decided between Jeremy and Grant.

When the results were calculated Jeremy had done enough to secure victory with Grant second and Hilly a close third.

  • Masters champion - Gordon
  • Seniors champion - Geoff
  • Veterans champion - Nick
As this was a special event all participants and integral members of Tewksbury Sailing Club were presented with commemorative mugs.

The race was followed by an evening of Jubilee games and a fabulous barbecue.

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