The format of our traditional September Yacht Handicap race lent itself perfectly to current Covid restrictions, with runners set off at socially-distanced intervals. As ever, John Falvey updated his handicap spreadsheet to determine who would set off at what time. He was somewhat challenged this year, though: with only virtual races since lockdown in March, there was a lack of recent ‘form’ to base the handicaps on.
The event was moved from Pitshanger Park to the less-frequented Perivale Park, incorporating some of the new Greenford Greenway. Bridie Lebdiri was first of the 35 runners to set off, and stayed ahead throughout. By the time she passed Fiona Kennedy marshalling halfway round the second lap, it was clear no-one was going to catch her.
The second to cross the line was new member Sam Gunnewicht. Sam managed his race well, setting off in 18th place, moving up to 10th halfway round the second lap, then catching another eight in the closing stages. He got past Sarah Holroyd two seconds from the end (which was probably quite frustrating for Sarah!) Sam’s name will be added to the men’s trophy, which features winners going back to 1955.
Others who moved significantly up the field were two-times previous winner Kevin Falvey, who started in 19th and finished second male and 4th overall. Nick Steel gained more places than anyone else (16). Chris Hepworth started last but managed to overtake 14 runners. New dad Adam Goodman scorched his way round, starting in 33rd and ending 20th. Sean Hanrahan moved up 11 places from 29th to 18th, and M55 Phil York had a good race to gain 10 places.
The fastest runner by some margin was Chris Hepworth, while in-form Leanne Smith was the fastest female (but only by 10 seconds over Sarah Harris).
It was lovely to welcome two new members face-to-face: Paul Nurse and Amanda Oliver. Hopefully we didn’t put them off too much and they will become regulars at the Monday night training sessions.
Those who were disappointed with their finish position always blame the handicapper, but this year they may even be justified! (Of course, those who finished in the top half of the field can have full confidence in John’s pre-race calculations).
Thanks to John for masterminding this year’s event, Lynn Wilson and Bob Densley for start and finish duties, and all the lovely marshals: Sarah Gerrie and family, David Murnaghan, Dorothy Johnstone, Andy Price, Fiona Kennedy, Martin Wilson and Shona Cowper. Photo credits to Lynn, multitasker extraordinaire. A final thanks also to the weather fairies, who gave us a brief respite from the rain for the duration of the race.