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K1 class Long Distance Race 2023 at Medway Yacht Club

by Hilly King 16 Jun 2023 07:13 BST 11 June 2023
K1 class Long Distance Race as part of the Medway Marathon © Gerrit Vos

The K1 long distance race was held on Sunday 11th June as part of the Medway Marathon, hosted by Medway Yacht Club.

The full Marathon course is twenty six miles along the Medway river taking in creeks and relies on sailors negotiating tides and avoiding larger water traffic. The weather when the competitors arrived was blisteringly hot and sun tan lotion and hydration was clearly going to be the order of the day.

With little wind over the river the race committee met to discuss options, but bang on queue the wind gods answered everyone's prayers with a steady breeze which obligingly built throughout the day. The race committee announced the full course would be sailed and competitors eagerly put sustenance in their boats to enable them to last the predicted four to five hours racing.

The K1s started in Class 4 which allowed us to watch where some of the early starters had chosen to race using the maximum flow of the tide which was with us until approximately 1pm. At that stage ideally you should have rounded the furthest mark which should then allow the tide to help with your return sail. The Medway YC always select the race date around the tides and it worked to perfection.

At the start Geoff King (Tewkesbury and Barnt Green) was the early pacemaker carefully negotiating the mid part of the river, closely followed by Hilly King (Datchet Water) and Jeremy Hudson (RYA). Clearly as the saying goes this is not a sprint so consistency was going to prove key the recipe to success. The place changing was continual between the K1s and all boats were close together giving fantastic racing.

The majority of the way out was to be a beat and Hilly and Jason King (Datchet Water) passed Geoff and looked to be pulling away around the first major bend and up to Folly Point Beacon. Jeremy was going very quickly and was next to take the lead and he immediately tried to put some distance between himself and the chasing pack. Jeremy continued to lead and when passing Darnett Beacon and mark 16 he had built a small gap between himself and the chasing pack.

The turn into the creek saw Jeremy leading with Hilly, Jason and Geoff all together in close attendance. Ian Duke (Datchet Water) reduced the gap to the leading group and at this point there was less than five minutes between the K1s on the water and it was clear all were going well in relation to all other classes in the Class 4 start. Jeremy seemed comfortable leading the K1s however Jason was clearly reducing the gap very quickly and was soon on Jeremy's transom.

Meanwhile Geoff had caught Hilly and was looking relaxed as he continued to maximise the tidal flow. The fleet continued to press hard and when we turned the furthest mark Jeremy and Hilly were extremely close and had established a lead over Jason, Geoff and Ian. The thirteen miles home had the benefit of the turning tide which helped push the fleet home and together with the strengthening wind it became a reach and run to the finish.

At the front Hilly passed Jeremy when he tried to free the weed from his keel and this was to prove crucial. Hilly was able to establish a comfortable lead which he held to the finish to win the long distance trophy. Ian also passed Jeremy to finish second as Jeremy sailed very low towards the line and just secured third very closely followed by Geoff and Jason.

Hilly secured sixth overall as part of the Medway Marathon and won Class 4 however after over four hours of intense sailing all the K1s were separated by only two minutes on the water. The racing had been incredibly close and extremely enjoyable proving again what a fabulous boat we have in the K1.

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