Race Report 30th June 2024

OOD: Nick Jeffery

Safety boat: Frankie Skrzesewski, Henry Brown

It was a fine afternoon for a sail, but England were in the knock-out phase of the Euros, which perhaps provided an alternative to serious competition on the water.  Four helms made it to the foreshore of which one, Keith Clarke, found he had a broken block on his Laser and had to retire.  That left Chris Greenwood and Felicia Biekark in Distant Thunder (Leader), Commodore Tim Young in Ait Knots (Wanderer), and Nick Floyer in flo (Gull).

There was a good 7knot NNW to NW breeze, gusting (according to the Met Office) to 18 knots, but we didn’t experience many gusts of that strength on the water.  At the start the NW wind took two of the fleet, Distant Thunder and flo, down river on a brisk run to Chiswick Bridge.  The same breeze trapped Ait Knots against the beach for a while.  She soon got afloat and seemed likely to overtake flo but, with a cautious reef in her main, she was not able to match flo on the several upwind sections of the serpentine D-course.

Distant Thunder made good time both running and beating and made the Corinthian’s starting line in Hammersmith, our downstream mark, after 45 minutes.  By then it was clear to the Safety Boat that the other two boats would also make the mark on the ebb tide.  Distant Thunder rounded the mark and made steady, if slow, progress back against river and wind.

Flo was next at the mark about 5 minutes later and had to beat hard even to stand still against the mighty river.  And 5 minutes later Ait Knots was in the same position, only with her reefed main she couldn’t help but slip downstream towards Hammersmith Bridge.  So flo and Ait Knots both crept upriver against the continuing ebb while Distant Thunder disappeared round the bends upriver.

About an hour after the start the flood tide eventually started to dominate, first to the benefit of Tim, then Nick, and finally at Chiswick Bridge, Chris and Felicia.  Chris finished first two hours after the start with Nick seven minutes later and Tim after another seven minutes.

The handicap sums gave the honours for Handicap and Polly prizes to Nick.

And that’s when the hard work of the day began: hauling 3 dinghies and the safety boat up the muddy foreshore, up the ramp and into the arch.

Next week it’s an A-course at 15:00

Race Report 23rd June 2024

OOD: Leona Shepherd

Safety Boat: Andy Ross and David Baker

Weather: Fair to sunny with light winds.

Course: A

Eight boats launched with Rob Adams and Billy Adams in Big Polly (Enterprise), Nick Jeffrey in Eeyore (Duckling), Ollie Adams and Felicity Adams in Spinosaurus (Mirror), Toby Hicks in Cip.. (Laser), Rebbeca Hayes in Wagtail (Mirror), Tim Young in Ait Knots (Wanderer), Sam Shemtob in Spirit of Youth (Wayfarer) and Nick Floyer in flo (Gull). Due to the light winds the OOD started the race at 15.05 to allow all boats to reach the starting line and also get a feel for the conditions.

Immediately skippers Rob and Olly were vying for position down the first leg of the first lap. Thereafter Rob in Big Polly demonstrated his experience (or was it Billy’s magic touch?) and maintained a lead position throughout the race. Toby on Cip.. put in some excellent lap times overtaking Olly & Felcia on Spinosaurus on the 2nd lap, holding the position until the 4th lap and then staying very close to them until his last lap.

There were some tricky moments as there always are. The spring tide was strong in the middle of the channel but was manageable. Special commendation goes to Rebecca on Wagtail’s inaugural race with SGSC. Despite initially denying a desire to compete Wagtail did eventually pass the start line and ultimately completed 4 timed laps. The usual entourage outside the Bell & Crown turned into a Wagtail/Rebecca fan-club cheering her at each lap. And, without prejudice, the atmosphere on the bank was superb such that all boats were given an ovation as they passed the final flag.

Happily the wind picked up and the doomsters premonition of a 1 lap race were dispelled with half the fleet eventually completing 7 or more laps.  

Back at the boathouse (where the morning’s work party had done a sterling job) a delicious chocolate cake, with cream and rhubarb compote had been prepared by our newest racer Rebbeca and her daughter. Thank you to everyone who helped on shore, on the water and back at the club.

Leona Shepherd (OOD)

Next Sunday it’s a D-course (Hammersmith and back) starting at 16:00

Race Report 16th June 2024

It was a lovely day for a C-course with a F4 (gusting F5) WSW wind and two people in the safety boat (Tim Young and Dave Baker). A good day for Dave to learn our under-the-bridge procedure.

All went smoothly under the bridge with Ben Chappell’s Laser (Envy) and Rob Adams’ Enterprise (Big Polly), under Tim’s supervision and clear instruction, and David’s perfect execution.  Nick went under the bridge by himself, lowering his Gull’s gunter rig, but was unfortunately caught with a gust and blown to the side of the bridge just before exiting. His boat capsized. The safety boat (with Lev now aboard crossing the river to his OOD position) rushed to help. The flood tide took Nick and flo out from under the bridge and he managed to right flo with some help from the SB which then towed him to the Surrey side, leaving him moored by residential barges where he bailed out with help and emotional support from a resident.

Lev was moved to his position on the pontoon waiting for a signal from Tim confirming Nicks readiness.

Exactly 6 minutes before 10:00 signal was sent and the countdown to the race started. As planned race started 10:00 on the dot.

Big Polly (with Felicia Biekark as crew) and then Envy crossed line beating into the wind. It took Nick about 1:45 min to cross the starting line, also with great speed beating to windward. They maintained that order throughout the race: Rob; Ben; then Nick. 

The SB stayed in the middle, mesmerised by Ben’s skilful dodging between rowing boats with both expert and very novice crews. Towards end of the beating leg the SB had to apply full throttle to beat Rob and to drop the mark. The mark was dropped seconds before Rob got to it.

Rob rounded the mark after 25 min. Ben was 4-8 minutes behind. The tide was just about to turn but the wind propelled Rob very fast downstream with the SB having a hard time getting there first to drop the OOD. Once the OOD was dropped to record Rob’s time, the SB went back to pick up the mark and watch Nick run back.

Rob was first, following Ben who manage maintain 6 min gap although having a dry capsize manoeuvre right before final turn to the finishing line. As the tide was ebbing fast, Ben sailed under the bridge tipping his boat slowly while Rob waited to get help from the SB which was following Nick flying in with wind and tide.

Thank you for Tim and Dave for outstanding safety boat duty. Tim’s ability to spot birds (especially) herons should be noted as OOD never saw so many birds on the river.

Lev Kolobov  OOD

Next week we’ve got a working party at 10:30 followed by an A-course at 15:00.

Race Report, 9th June 2024

OOD: Heather Adams, Safety Boat: Tim Young; Course: D

On Sunday we had a turnout of 10 boats: a number only matched twice recently in 2021-22, and before that unknown since the heady days of the last century.

The fleet consisted of the Leader, 3 Lasers,3 single handed Enterprises, a Mirror, a Solo and the Wayfarer. Too many people to list. We had a very confused start, but all got away on a tightly bunched, brisk run down towards Hammersmith.   At Barnes Railway Bridge with the change in direction of the river the race became a beat: James picking up the new wind quickly established a lead from Lev and Rob that he maintained at the turning mark off LCSC. The slowest boat in the race, the Mirror, turned soon after but still into a falling tide and, hampered by his dagger board made no progress back to SGSC for 20mins.  Similarly, the Lasers were also hampered. (Olly can you show the club your tracker course?)  

The Enterprises and the Leader managed to make progress beating back against the tide on the Surrey shore with James (Ent) still out in front. The old adage of who gets back through Barnes Railway Bridge sails away to win hung over him.  In the end James got stuck at the bridge and Lev slipped through under the bridge into the lead.  Rob and James (Ents) getting in each other’s way in little water under the Barnes end of the bridge. By now the ebb had slackened and full tacks across the river could be made. James capsized on the final leg after Chiswick Bridge but in the modern Enterprise this proved no problem. He hopped onto the centreboard and with the help of the buoyancy in the double bottom construction rapidly cleared the boat of water using the self-bailers situated in wells in the double bottom. All in time to recover the ground on Lev and pip him for line honours in the weak flood tide.

The Wayfarer and the Solo both retired.

In retrospect Olly in the Mirror made a plea to delay the start or even schedule the start later in relation to the low water Hammersmith Bridge, when favourable conditions are apparent.  Easier said than done. As it turned out, when the handicap sums were complete, Olly romped home to win in the Handicap and Polly points, as well as the Little Boats Class: James winning the Big Boats Class points.

Next week is a C-course, starting at 10:00.  Remember to launch super-early to get under Kew Bridge.

Rob Adams

Race Report 2nd June 2024

OOD: Henry Brown,  Safety Boat: Dave Baker

After what felt like weeks of miserable cold weather the sun shone at the start of today’s early morning race and the wind was from the North at 5knots, gusting 10knots: perfect for a B-course.

Six boats launched: Lev Kolobov solo in Porpoise (Enterprise); Felicia Bierkark with husband and son in Chris Greenwood’s Distant Thunder (Leader); 3 Lasers – Ben Chappell (Envy); Keith Clarke (Kaia) and Toby Hicks (Cip…); and Nick Jeffery in his jolly, red-sailed Duckling (Eeyore). For the first time the safety boat was manned by Dave Baker with James Armitage showing him the ropes at the start.

The down-wind, up-tide start meant that helms had to choose between catching the cleaner wind in the middle or the slacker current at the edge of the river.  Nick, from the perspective of the OOD, shot into the lead from the start by favouring the Middlesex side, but the rest of the fleet followed Lev’s lead down the Surrey side and got there first.  It took around 8 minutes for the run towards Chiswick Quay and around 5 minutes for the beat back.  Lev was first at the first lap followed by Toby about 30 seconds behind and then Felicia.  Lev and Toby remained as first and second throughout the race while Felicia and Keith alternated as 3rd and 4th.  Ben had some mishaps including some horticulture in the branches on the Surrey bank which cost him around 20 minutes.  Nick had three consistent laps against the others’ four and ended up winning the Handicap points and coming third in the Polly.

All this in a river full of motor boats, canal boats, rowers, scullers, kayaks etc. and a good range of wildlife including an egret.  Welcome to the summer.

Next week is a D-course starting at 11:40.


Race Report 19th May 2024

B-Course race, 19th May, start:11:10

Heather Adams stepped up to be an emergency OOD, with Tim Young and David (new member) in the safety boat.

Five boats mustered for the start: three Enterprises (Big Polly: Rob and Hugo Adams; Porpoise: Lev Kolobov, solo; and Entre Nous: Dave and Sheila Berger), a Leader (Distant Thunder: Chris Greenwood and Felicia Biekark), a Wayfarer (SY2: Sam Shemtob and crew) and Keith Clarke’s Laser: Kaia.

It was an easterly wind which gave a run to the downstream turning mark off Chiswick Staithe with beat back to a buoy off the Bulls Head. There were a lot of rowers out on the water making ready for the summer regattas and ULBC was busy with the Hospital Bumps.

At the start several boats were bang on the line but the fleet split immediately. Rob shot off along the Surrey side with Lev in hot pursuit while the rest opted for the more conventional Middlesex side. Surrey was better initially but the Middlesex side, or middle of the river, improved towards the downstream mark. Lev overtook Rob and rounded first with Chris, Dave and Kieth close behind. Sam persisted on the Middlesex side and dropped behind. 

The upstream buoy was in a fiendish position with a wind shift and fickle wind. Rob closed on Lev and briefly took the lead with Chris, Dave and Keith closing up again.

The OOD finished the race at the end of the second lap on the hour due to urgent matter of cooking the family Sunday roast. The order of boats at the finish was Lev, Rob by a canvass over Dave and Chris another boat length behind, Keith then Sam.

A delightful race on a lovely sunny day.  

Heather Adams, OOD (+Rob +Henry)

Race Report 12th May 2024

Race report: Sunday 12th May 2024

OOD: Felicia Biekarck ; safety boat: Chris Greenwood and Tim Young

Under a clear spring sky, six boats took to the water for a triangular A-Course race. A gentle westerly breeze, with the occasional gust and a manageable tide, created ideal conditions for a competitive afternoon. 

The fleet consisted of two Enterprises sailed by team James+Billy in Zephyr and Rob+Kiran in Big Polly, two Lasers sailed by Ben in Envy and Keith in Kaia, a Mirror with team Olly+Felicity in Spinosaurus, and a Gull sailed by Nick in flo. Our thanks to Chris and Tim for their excellent safety boat coverage throughout the afternoon.

The race kicked off at 5 pm, with Rob+Kiran seizing an early lead, closely followed by James+Billy and Ben right behind them. These three established themselves as the leading pack early on. The first buoy was rounded by James+Billy, holding their position throughout the fast-paced race and completing the first lap in just under seven minutes.

Meanwhile, in the rear pack, Keith in his Laser, Nick in his Gull, and Olly+Felicity in their Mirror battled it out, exchanging positions regularly and occasionally facing wind stalls and the challenges of the tide.

James+Billy’s consistent boat speed earned them the win, completing 7 laps in 55’20”. Rob+ Kiran, also completing 7 laps, finished a close second at 59’06”. Ben followed in third with 6 laps. Nick, team Olly+Felicity, and Keith all completed 4 laps, having enjoyed a rewarding race. 

All in all, a fantastic afternoon. It was particularly pleasing to see all three two-person boats crewed by our up-and-coming junior sailors. Looking forward to next Sunday’s B-Course race. May the wind blow, may the Sun shine bright!

Cheers to all,


Race Report 28th April 2024

Race Report 28th April 2024 – revised version

OOD: Nick Floyer Safety boat: James Armitage

Course: A

Lots of sunshine made this a pleasant evening race over a triangular course.  The wind was fickle, mainly westerly but occasionally backing southerly.

Two Enterprises: Rob Adams (Big Polly) and Lev Kolobov (Porpoise), both single-handed.  Two Lasers:  Ben Chappell (Envy) and Toby Hicks (Cip..), and a Mirror, Olly and Billy Adams (Spinosaurus), lined up for a very close start.  However, the wind fell light and contrary, and the fleet spread out: Lev, Rob, Ben, Olly and Toby in that order  All had more or less trouble rounding the weather mark, the red rowers’ channel buoy, in the shelter of the trees on the Surrey bank.

Thanks to James Armitage in the safety boat, frustrated not to be sailing – as was I,

Nick Floyer (OOD)

Race Report, 21 April 2024

Course C   Weather:  cloudy, gusty, North Easterly up to 13mph

Safety boat: Tim Young

OOD: Ben Chappell

Started on time at 13:40.  Start line: upstream end of pontoon to Water Works tower. Support from several boat owner residents. Flag pole cunningly placed in upturned kayak draining holes. 

Prior to the race Lev Kolobov (Porpoise, Enterprise) and Rob Adams (Big Polly, Enterprise) were helped through centre arch masted and healed, no river traffic. Olly Adams with crew Billy (Spinosaurus, Mirror) sailed independently under Kew bridge. Sam Shemtob (SY2, Wayfarer) towed under with mast down.

A flying start from Olly and Billy Adams (one of the two 7 year-old crew members we were delighted to have in the race) gave Spinosaurus an early lead. Further down the field SY2 had three onboard: Sam, Yellow Tim and Paula. Sam’s brave crew were rewarded with moments ahead of the eventual race winner, as they fought together for 3rd and 4th place. Rob in Big Polly and Hugo Bryant (our other 7 year-old, out on his first race) now in 2nd place found their rhythm and took the race lead from Spinosaurus. Lev fought his way up through the field, 4th, 3rd, 2nd. The order around the mark near the London Apprentice was Rob followed at some distance by Lev who was just ahead of Olly, with Sam bringing up the rear. This was the order down river to the finish as the wind strengthened and the sun came out, Lev gaining all the time until the two Enterprises were neck and neck. With 200 yards to go Lev finally passed Rob and Hugo to finish victorious after just over an hour sailing. 

Lev, the race winner on the water held station near the finish line as the other boats raced to finish but he was caught by a sudden gust of wind and given cause to demonstrate how to right an Enterprise. Using this capsize routine as inspiration he then capsized his way under Kew Bridge before sailing back to the club. 

The various handicap sums gave the winning Handicap points to Spinosaurus; the Big Boats win to Porpoise; the Little Boats win and the Polly Prize to Spinosaurus. Well done all.

Next week’s race is an A-course starting at 16:50.

Ben Chappell, OOD.

Race Report 14 April 2024

OOD: Sam Shemtob, Safety boat: Dave Berger

An impressive six boats headed out early Sunday evening to complete a full triangular A course.  Conditions were perfect, with a fresh south westerly wind and few gusts.

A tight start saw the boats all set off together, remaining closely grouped as they approached the first mark.  James Armitage with Billy Adams in Zephyr (Enterprise) were first round, followed closely by Rob Adams in Big Polly (Enterprise) and somewhat behind Ben Chappell in Envy (Laser).

The top three held their positions for the first three laps, with Rob steadily closing in on James and Billy and coming round the rear mark just 12 seconds behind them after lap three.  Frankie Skrzeszewski, sailing Tango (Solo), crept up from last position after the first lap to 4th after the second, only to capsize in the third and retire.  

Despite Rob breathing down his neck, James and Billy maintained their composure, pulling away over the next couple of laps and winning in 6 laps just over a minute ahead of Rob. 

A cold evening, a couple of spots of rain threatened but the setting sun eventually came out for the final lap.  Olly and Felicity Adams, completing a none-too-shabby 4 laps in their Mirror, brought the Adam’s family representation to three generations and came third in the Polly prize.  

Many thanks to Dave Berger on safety boat.

Sam Shemtob, OOD