Hamble River Raid 2017
Pouring rain and a stiff breeze greeted us as we arrived at Hamble Marina. It looked like a repeat of last years race which was the worst in recent history but the stiff breeze drove away the rain clouds as the trailers arrived with 7 OC6s and numerous OC2s & V1s.
We had arranged to borrow OCUKs purple Mirage, with its extra 40kgs of stability and began rigging the boat which was interesting to watch. "Groups of 4" Cam kept saying as the 12' of rope, which seemed like 12m, was slowly tightened. This took a while as impressively John snapped a rope and then a strap.
Soon after we jumped in the boat and were off up to the start with a strong tailwind as the sun shone. As the others classes of boats got ready and raced off the start line we watched with interest as as safety & no collisions were the watch words. The safety briefing had led us to believe that we'd be sent off in two groups, a three and a four, but as we all lined up on the beach it was clear that all seven boats were starting together. It was going to be an interesting turn round that 1st buoy. We had an awesome start and were a length ahead at the turn up the river, it was a clear show of power. We continued to lead for a few minutes until the Paddlesports crew, in their lighter boat, inched passed us. Their all male crew maintained a few lengths lead throughout the race and had a clear top turn. We were pestered by the OCUK crew in their ultra slick unlimited boat with custom footrests. Our longer more powerful strokes were enough to hold them off and we reached the top turn just ahead of them. The OCUK boat was caught behind a kayak and we capitalised on this and pulled away. Taking the inside at the turn turned out to be a bad move for them which John avoided giving us an advantage for the return stage.
The return leg was straight into a strong wind and John expertly positioned the boat in the more sheltered water and we maintained our position behind Paddlesports. We fought valiantly to draw them back but I think the extra boat weight may have made this too much of a task. We eventually finished around 20seconds behind Paddlesports sandwiching Bernice & Anne in their OC2. However, as we shouted our number crossing the line so loudly we were awarded 1st place with Ruslan being on hand to pick up the prize before finally relenting and handing it back and hour later.
We were certainly the strongest crew in this great little race and showed our form as we had a lighting start and rounded the 1st buoy in front we’ll be back next year to prove it with a win.
I really enjoyed it so thanks to Colin, Steve, Ruslan, Iain, the Organisers and OCUK for the loan of the OC6