The Royal Thames Yacht Club’s winter team racing programme got underway over 21 – 22 October with two, one day, random pairs team racing events in the shiny new Sonars.
Light winds met the teams lined up for Saturday’s Mum’s Bucket Qualifier 1 but despite it looking like it would be impossible to race, everyone drifted around the opening two races in very tight battles where places were traded frequently. By the end of races one and two it was John Middleton paired with Tom Hebbert and Marshall King paired with William Edwards who came out on top of their respective races.
While the wind remained light throughout the day, it did build enough to make the races shorter but no less exciting. The crews who learned to work with their new partner in each race best clearly had the advantage as the day wore on. With each team getting in eight races, racing with every other team once and against every other team twice, there was plenty of exciting racing to keep the umpires busy. By the end of the day, Tom Hebbert had lost only one race to secure the top spot but things were much tighter in the fight for second place. Alex Smallwood, Jon Redding and Tiger Tellwright (who should be commended for actually bringing his Mum to the Mum’s Bucket) were all tied with five wins each. After some complicated calculations, the ties were broken and it was Alex Smallwood in second, with Jon Redding in third. All four teams have qualified for the final on the 2nd March.
Sunday saw the first of this year’s Hot Rum, one day events. Established to satisfy the desires of team racers eager to add spinnakers into the mix it follows the same format as the Mum’s Bucket with teams randomly paired together against each other. Light winds again greeted the sailors on the water but rapidly built to around 8 knots.
With a more solid breeze than the day before, and kites thrown in to the mix, racing was much faster paced. Even so, with two boat team racing very often unstable, there was more than one occasion where the two races on the course merged in to one while sailors fought to help their team mate out.
Hot by name and hot by nature, racing was much closer with more experienced team racers pushing harder at this second event. Indeed, despite having won the previous day, Tom Hebbert lost his first two races before resuming his winning ways. By lunchtime, Guy Brearey was nosing ahead of the field but the fight for second place was on. Tom Hebbert along with Alex Smallwood and Dom Lewis were all fighting hard for every race win and little separated them on the scoresheet.
With one round complete a second got underway after a short break for lunch and Guy Brearey continued his winning streak, losing just one race in the afternoon session and Tom Hebbert losing the last race while paired with Dom Lewis against Guy Brearey and Alex Smallwood. As this final race concluded, it gave the win to Brearey with 12 wins from 14 races. Tom Hebbert took second place with 9 wins but there was a tie between Alex Smallwood and Dom Lewis for third which broke in favour of Smallwood.
Having not team raced in more time than he would care to admit, Tom Hebbert, winner of the Mum’s Bucket qualifier and second in Hot Rum said “Wow! What an absolutely fantastic day of enormously close racing. Almost every race has multiple lead changes – with more racing in one day than you normally get over an entire weekend! Thank you to our fantastic race officers and umpires who gave up their time to make the weekend”
Guy Brearey, fresh from victory in the recent British American Cup as crew, thought he would try to remember how to helm said: “It was an outstanding day of team racing in champagne conditions. The random pairs format, sailing with everyone and against everyone, made for some very exciting racing, with a lot of team racing all around the course and many races being decided on the last beat. A massive thanks to the umpires, race committee and of course Freddie, Simon and Jack for organising.”
Next up on the Royal Thames Yacht Club winter team racing programme is the Mixed+ Random Pairs on 11 November which sees teams of 2 women and 2 men, helmed by women, competing in the same format. This will be followed by the second Mum’s Bucket Qualifier and the second Hot Rum event on 18 and 19 November.