This report does include an eyewitness account of public nudity. Those of a nervous disposition should read on with caution.
With light winds and a strong tide a short(ish) course was set that would send us down river on the outgoing tide to buoy 18 before returning. With spinnakers set and all boats clear of the line so commenced the drifting competition to the first mark and beyond.
For the most part Skipper managed to drift slightly faster than everyone else, staying in front for most of the way down river At times one boat would catch a breeze and you could sense the excitement as the log increased to nearly 2 knots, a pass looked imminent, the skipper would ‘will’ his crew to ‘keep the bloody spinnaker flying’ only to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory as the kite collapses and we all fall back into procession.
As we reached 18 and set off across the river and tide, the race really started. Thankfully by now the wind had picked up enough that we had a fighting chance of getting home. Skipper, who had shown such impeccable drifting skills downwind just couldn’t hold on to that magic, and as we rounded the leeward mark they were engulfed by much of the fleet. By now the Dwarf, stealth like in nature, a natural predator shadowing from the rear, made their move and began to pick off their prey. As they undertook the leaders and stove out towards the shallows, the rest could only follow.
The return was a battle of nerves between helm and depth sounder. I think most boats ended up kissing the mud, for most a gentle peck on the cheeks, for others (including us) a full on snog, but for one particular boat this kiss was the foreplay that led to full nudity……..
As we watched in awe, Rob stripped to the waist and slowly slipped into the murky waters of the Medway. Grasping the rear of the Dwarf and planting his Hobbit like feet deep into the oozing mud he pushed………Whilst this was a wonderful sight to behold, we did initially wonder why they didn’t just summon the rescue boat to pull them off (there’s no penalty), then it dawned on us…. this was a show of strength, a goading of the fleet, a declaration that the fire of winners blazed strong, they had no need for external help … With one final heave the mud gave up its enduring kiss releasing the Dwarf back to her natural domain, free to hunt again.
With Watersong sneaking past into the lead, we now found ourselves in second place and feeling somewhat pleased that we wouldn’t have to write the report (spoiler alert we are writing the report!!).
We sensed them before we saw them. A feeling of unease stirred through the crew of Musical, and as we looked aft, we could see the Dwarf and Rob’s glistening form, flowing mane of fire-red hair still wet from the Medway mud, bearing down upon us.
We fought the Dwarf gallantly, but there was only going to be one winner. As they strode off in front of us, the crew of Musical exchanged glances, silently acknowledging that we were in the company of greatness.
The race was run, I don’t know who came where or what other stories of ‘daring-do’ the race beheld. For this race will be etched deep into the history books of the Medway Sonata fleet for one reason, and as the years pass and the river retreats future archaeologists will gaze at the indentation of two Hobbit sized feet, fossilised into the bed of the long since gone river and know, something amazing happened here.
Ian – Musical Express