Monday, June 27, 2011

Braunston Grand Prix report

The practice sessions were over.  The grid positions established.  Engines started and warmed up, the nervous participants stood with hands on gear levers and control wheels ready for the off.  Something like a hundred historic boats, crammed cheek by jowl waiting for the signal .. .

We look forward

I look nervously back at the rest of the crew.  They are like a coiled spring.  Are you guys ready?

The front runners get away early from the pits  (service arm) with Nb President in pole position. Back down the grid it took a bit longer to get away.  Nearly two hours!! Never mind, we're away, now we'll show 'em.  Kath and I and a number of others were riding aboard the mighty Chertsey, helmed by ace driver Sarah.

Two hours later - we're round the first bend.  Record speeds being achieved - 100yards an hour!  No fault of our illustrious driver, the road is blocked by people unloading coal, terrified hire boaters trying just to make their way southwards along the GU canal, and the leading boats coming back in the other direction having made the turn.

Eventually we reach the turn and Sarah executes a near perfect three point turn using the triangular junction of the three canals which meet here. Then it's back into the chaos of the main drag.  Half way along, a quick pit stop and our dirver jumps off and runs to the ladies for a pee.  She's back and we make the turn into the marina chicane.  We suspect skullduggery is at work as someone looking very much like John (Halfie) waves a large can of beer to lure us onto the rocks. 

We ignore it, and in less than an hour we're on the home straight and back to our starting position. Now we can all go for a pee.

Nearly six hours to travel less than a mile.  What a race.  No winners, no losers, but great fun for all.  Special thanks to Sarah for taking us, and to Jim for plying us with beer that made us desperate to rush off to the loos at the end.  We wouldn't have missed it for the world.

It was a great day all round. Lots of wonderful boats.  An amazing gathering of many of our favourite bloggers - Halfie, Sarah, Bones, the Lucky Ducks, Adam (Briar Rose) and new to us, the Bella's.

In the evening John (Halfie) and Jan made the day even better by inviting me and Kath to join them for a barbecue and a gossip.  Many thanks to them.

Was there a "Best in show" boat?  Not officially, but had there been, I suspect the winner might have been the FMC boat Lucy.

Like a better view?

Aah, now you get it.  A perfect scale model, complete with authentic Bolinder engine sounds with the characteristic off beat rhythm.  When the boat went faster, the sound responded just like the real thing.  We couldn't decide whether the skipper was Action Man in disguise, or Barbie's Boyfriend Ken.

Two days later we sit on Herbie at Hawkesbury Junction having completed the North Oxford Canal.  More of that in another post.  The Greyhound pub beckons.


Vallypee said...

What a hoot, Neil. Love the description, and as always, the photos add to the pithy writing.

Halfie said...

Do you mean Eagle? Lucy was on the bank by the turn in unrestored state. It was a pleasure grilling you, I mean, having you for a barbecue. As I have commented elsewhere I'm sorry to have missed Adam and Adrian.

MortimerBones said...


It was a fantastic day wasn't it!!!!!