Marco Polo Pursuit Race 2017

»«Saturday 28th October 2017

There was healthy attendance for the Marco Polo race to mark the "traditional" end of season. This all-in pursuit race open to all club members once again ticked all the boxes in demonstrating the strength, breadth and depth of the Royal Corinthian. The age group covered 12 (Ollie Mears & Jemima Cook) to 76 (Bill Jones), all fleets were out (although Waples/Rands switched from RCOD to Flying Fifteen)  and Ben Hutton-Penman, one of our National Champions, ensured a truly representative group of 15 entrants.

First away were the Oppies who started close to the line and headed off for the north shore. The 12 year-olds would be sailing the full 100 minutes and no other boat was launched or off its mooring for their start; partly due to the gap in handicap but mainly because the wind was gusting above 20 knots. Next away was a Topper with either a faulty watch or over confidence in reaching up and down the start line for a full 2 minutes after their designated start. The Hutton-Penmans formed a sandwich around the squibs with Ben in front brother James behind. Then came the Dragons, Flying Fifteen, Folkboat and RS200s.  

The WWL course didn't suit the asymmetric RS200 and they were first to retire after a few too many swims... to be fair the conditions didn't seem to suit anyone. At the first leeward mark (Pinto) the Oppies were still together and still well clear of the fleet and that was the case at the windward mark (Fairway #5) but the gaps were narrowing.

It became clear that it would be close at Pinto again as the clock ticked down to zero. The oppies were difficult to separate, Ben was very close behind. Indeed 5 different types of boat rounded Pinto within 2 minutes of the finish yet the result was a clean sweep for the Otters.  Ollie first with Jemima still within a  boat length in second. Ben was third demonstrating maturity beyond his years. Humphrey (Robert Coyle and Marc Rawinsky) were the first keelboat in 4th and the rest of us were close enough to sail in company on an even windier beat back to the clubhouse.

A great race celebrated in a different style as the Marco Polo bowl was filled with Mars bars (other confectionery is available) and presented before the Laying Up Supper and ahead of the winners' bedtime.

Phil Aspinall