International OK, Inaugural River Champs hosted by Upper Thames SC…
This year saw Upper Thames SC combine the 3 day River Championship within the usual 4 day Bourne End week. 12 competitors took part in the “snakes and ladders” event with all, even your scribe, thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Racing on the first day was held in anything from nothing to a F3 breeze. Young Ed Crichton, sailing the aptly named “Hot Love”, shot off into the distance in the first race proving that local knowledge is king in these parts to take a resounding win from the boringly consistent Dave Bourne, with the all new, larger version of Richard Burton in 3rd.
Race 2 in exactly the same conditions saw the same few escape the pack, god knows how, and proceed to have an epic ding dong round the race course only ended by the beautiful sound of a whistle and a lovely yellow flag waved at Ed, naughty boy! Burt and Dave continued serenely on their way whilst trading insults and tacks with the fat one emerging the victor. The ever sprightly Hugh Myers holding off the red faced Ed for a fine 3rd place.
Saturday night, as ever, was a quiet affair spent sipping pink gins until the thunderstorm came and with it a rarely seen, naked, male Burton whale splashing noisily through the upper reaches of the Thames.
Sunday, less wind and therefore locals revenge. Phil Benton looked the visitors in the eye, and that was the last they saw of him as he opened up a huge lead to take the bullet. Burt, shaking off the previous night’s disguise, came through with a 2nd place, Dave coming in a distant 3rd.
The 2nd race of the day saw Burt defying, not only the laws of physics, but also local convention by starting along the club-side bank. We never saw Burt again. It hurts me to have to report that he was so far in front at the finish that he actually received a round of applause from the spectators. Painful. Jennie Portsmouth and Garth Thompson took 2nd and 3rd place respectively, I’m sure I saw them actually planing at one point, with Pietr Przewozny putting in a fine 4th place.
Sunday night’s entertainment was the sprint drinks, also known as the cocktail party. Buckets of G&T, as many as you could get through in an hour, messy! A lovely dinner was also laid on by the Upper Thames catering team whilst we were serenaded by a fine female singer throughout the evening, how very civilised!
Monday morning, very little wind and all to play for. Lots of guys trying to add up scores with eyes that didn’t work and brains that were giving different totals each time. Steely eyed Garth decided he wanted to blow the fat guys out of the water and took a resounding win with Dave coming in 2nd and local poster boy Ed sneaking through to 3rd. The ever improving Andrew Boxer picking up a well earned 4th place.
A short break for lunch, more adding up, and we were back out for another drifter. Highlight of the pre-start manoeuvres was Hugh Myers’ capsize in the middle of the river after a particularly nasty F1 gust. As usual it was all very tight down the far bank with Dave, Ed and Andrew eventually pulling away to get a well earned lead. Ed pulled through and sat on Dave to the finish, Dave very kindly returning the favour to Andrew. But………where was Burt?? Ed was nervously pacing up and down the river bank waiting to see who the next boat round the bend would be, conscious of having only one hand on the trophy. Damn, the whale was in 4th and had done enough to secure the championship by 1pt. So, in the end, congratulations must go to Richard Burton for winning the River Champs ahead of local hero Ed Chricton and Dave Bourne in 3rd.
Thanks must got to everyone at Upper Thames for laying on a fantastic event, from the bar staff to the catering crew and to the race team. If you haven’t been before it’s well worth the visit as it really is a beautiful setting and a wonderful club. Just watch out for the cows!