Last Race, 5 November 2017

Last Race of the season, 5 November  2017

It was a bright and breezy afternoon with a full F3, plus added gust, blowing down the A-course from Kew Bridge.  A magnificent 9 boats took to the water, but even before the start three of them came to the conclusion that an immersion was highly likely and returned to the ramp – all Enterprises: the Browns, Rob Collingwood, and Chris and Laura Greenwood.  The others were made of sterner stuff.

Dave and Sheila Berger, rare visitors to our waters, sailing James Armitage’s Enterprise, led almost from the start.  He was closely followed by Nick Floyer at the start of the second lap (14 seconds behind) with Alex Pape and Ian Nethersell also less than a minute behind.   Alas, that was it for Nick.  He was overpowered on the run downstream, capsized, and despite valiant attempts to right his Lightning, it refused to behave.  After several attempts he had to concede and retire from the race – wet and cold.

So that left five contenders, and the Bergers kept ahead, but not by much at first.  At lap two all four were within two minutes of each other.  At three laps Alex and the Bergers were a mere 20 seconds apart with Lev and Ian about three minutes behind them.  Alex was still number two on the next lap with Ian just ahead of Lev, but by the next lap both had overtaken Alex.  The Bergers were drawing further ahead by this stage and went on to lap all the others.  They completed seven hectic laps in the allotted hour, three minutes ahead of Ian’s six laps with Alex and then Lev crossing the line after a further two and three minutes.  Sam Shemtob, with two crew in his Wayfarer and two reefs in his main fought for three laps and the fifth place but was forced to take assistance from the safety boat and retired.

So ended a very exciting race, as well as the 2017 sailing season.  The handicap system gave the race to the Bergers, followed by Lev, then Alex, and finally Ian.  Many thanks to Enoch Rodriguez for supervising the event, and to David Jones and Steve Newell for manning the safety boat.

As usual the race was followed by Beer and Bangers.  The beer was brewed by Steve, Mary Short slaved over the barbeque, soup and cake were provided by Margaret Berger, and other food was provided by several willing members.  It was especially good to see three of our most senior members at the feast: Kurt and Margaret Berger and Paul Williamson.

Race Report, 29 October 2017

Race Report, 29 October 2017

With the switch to GMT we knew that a late afternoon D-course would be a race against the gathering dusk and a gamble with the wind and tide.  But the omens were good: a bright mostly sunny day and a north wind of, officially, the top of F3, and a neapish tide.

Three boats were prepared to risk the trip to Hammersmith and back – Lev Kolobov and Tim Young in Gulls and Nick Floyer in his Lightning.  The start time coincided with the predicted low water at Chiswick Mall based on our experience that the flood tide takes at least an hour to kick in after the official low water, and that it takes at least 45 minutes to sail from Strand down to the turning point at Corinthians.

Nick had a good start and led the way on the run down to Chiswick Bridge, followed closely by Lev.  The curve in the river around Duke’s Meadows then sheltered them from the wind and progress was little faster than the tide until they emerged through Barnes Bridge.  They then had a brisk beat in close tacking towards Corney Reach with Tim following at an increasing distance in the rear.

By the time Nick and Lev reached the lifeboat station the ebb was almost slack and although they were storming along at great speed the safety boat (manned by Henry, Alex and David Jones) made the decision to shorten the course so that they could get back to Strand by sunset.  So a buoy was dropped short of Chiswick Eyot and the sailors were instructed to round it.  Lev was in the lead at that point and gybed around the mark to set off back on the run.  Nick was not so lucky.  He was caught by a gust as he gybed and capsized.  By the time he had disentangled the mainsheet, swum round to the centre board, heaved the boat upright, struggled aboard, regained control and gingerly turned downwind, Lev was a dot on the horizon and Tim had rounded the buoy and was on his way home.  The Lightning is a well-mannered boat and comes up with hardly any water aboard, but that still left a wet and cold Nick facing a long sail back.  He soon overtook Tim on the run up to Barnes Bridge and caught up with Lev in the doldrums around Duke’s Meadow.  Once through Chiswick Bridge, as the sun set, he and Lev resumed a tacking battle back to the Railway Bridge, which Nick won by a minute.  Tim followed seven minutes later while there was still enough daylight to heave the boats up to the arch and recover the safety boat.

After the sums, the handicap points were won by Tim, and the Class and Polly points went to Lev.

Mary, as well as being OOD, provided nourishing flapjack to go with the steaming tea; much appreciated by all.

Next week is the Last Race  at 13:30 followed by Beer and Bangers.  All are welcome.

Race Report, 22 October 2017

Race Report, 22 October 2017

The Met Office wind forecast for Kew Gardens was for the top of F3 from the west with gusts of F6, following a very gusty day on Saturday thanks to Storm Brian.  This was enough to deter several helms from even getting their boats out, but Lev Kolobov was up for it and so was his son David who was to crew for James Armitage.  Following much deliberation and gazing Kew-wards from the ramp first James and then Lev rigged and launched.  James was assaulted by gusts from all sides in the lee of the island, suffered a fault with his goose-neck and headed back to the ramp to recover.  Lev, having been capsized while still on the trolley, got afloat and cautiously tested the conditions.  James by this time had decided that a dunking for him and David was almost inevitable in the turbulent conditions, called it a day, and the race was abandoned.  Lev decided to go for a circumnavigation of the island which he achieved with much flapping of sails and changes of course before also heading back to the ramp, with the safety boat in close attendance.

So high honours should be awarded to James, David and Lev for both brave intentions and prudent second thoughts.  Chris Jones, David Jones and Henry Brown manned the safety boat, fortunately not required in extremis, and Tim Wellburn, who made the necessary preparations for the race, provided the much-appreciated refreshments afterwards.

Next week’s race, after we revert to GMT, will be a D-course that should finish around sunset.  If it’s a clear day, and if there’s a favourable wind there should be no problem in getting back to Strand in the light.  But if it’s cloudy and windless the race may be cancelled.  You have been warned.

Henry Brown

Race Report, 15 October 2017

race 15 Oct

Race Report for 15 October 2017

 

The morning was overcast with a barely perceptible breeze from the south to south-west as five boats assembled on the muddy foreshore.  A B-course was scheduled but the consensus was to switch to an A because of the difficulty of beating with a feeble or non-existent wind against the flood tide.  And for the same reason everyone agreed on a short course starting outside Zoffany House.

The fleet started with a flourish, catching a zephyr that took most boats down to the willow, whereupon it (the wind and the fleet) got into a familiar state of confusion.  Rob Adams in his Laser was the first to make an attempt on the downstream buoy, positioned just upstream of the slip-dock which was occupied by a large boat.  Unfortunately for Rob the tide triumphed over the wind at just the wrong moment, causing him to touch the buoy and re-join the queue.  Ian Nethersell, in his Vibe, was next to make the attempt and continued successfully to round the upstream mark.  As he passed the start line he put in a polite request for a one-lap race.  His time for the first lap was 13 minutes.  He was followed at 15 minutes by Chris Greenwood’s Enterprise and then by Alex Pape’s Lugger and Rob at around 16 minutes.

The breeze gradually filled in as the race progressed giving a second lap of around 10 minutes for the leaders – they being Chris followed by Rob, Alex and Ian.  Tim, meanwhile was still stuck in the doldrums opposite the willow.  By the third lap Rob had gained the lead which he retained to the end leaving Chris and Alex to contest second place for the next few laps as Ian progressively slipped behind.

Rob finished his seventh lap just before the hour was up followed in ten seconds by Chris and another minute or so by Alex.  Ian finished at about the same time but a lap behind, and Tim brought up the rear, after 64 minutes, having completed 5 laps.

So Chris won in the Handicap series and the Big Boats, and Alex won on the Polly Prize and Little Boats.  David Jones wasn’t given much to do in the safety boat and Tim Wellburn, assisted by Henry Brown, supervised from Zoffany House.

The more perceptive of you may have noticed some anomalies in the total scores and numbers of races sailed as recorded in recent results sheets.  The Master of Sums apologises for any errors and is confident that the latest results show the correct numbers.

Race report, 8 October 2017

race 20

 

Race Report: Sunday 8 October 2017

The Autumn Equinox combined with the ‘Harvest Moon’ brings forth the largest tides. And with them, the greatest yearly loads of silt in the river which floods the foreshore and the footpath with vast swathes either of deep nutrient-rich soil – or sticky sludge.

Onto this treacle-coloured and slippery water sailed Rob, Lev, Alex, Chris, Ian, Nick and Tim.

Rob was in the lead by a minute at the end of the first round of an ‘A’ course, followed by Lev, then at one-second intervals by Alex, Chris and Ian – with Nick and Tim one-second apart at the rear.

On lap 2, Rob was still leading the pack. But out of nowhere Nick had burst into second place. He had overtaken Lev, now 3rd, followed by Alex, then Ian, Chris [now 6th], and Tim.

After lap 3 there was no change in the running order. Rob still first, Nick second, Lev 3rd, Alex 4th, Ian 5th, Chris 6th and Tim 7th.

But a change of the established order was soon to come. Rob was still far out ahead. But Lev and Ian were tied for second on lap 4. Alex was still 4th. And  Nick had dropped down to 5th, with Chris and Tim still 6th and 7th.

Lev who, though joint 2nd with Ian on the preceding lap, touched the upstream buoy on his 5th and final lap, and so did a 360 degree turn; thus dropping to 4th over the line; preceded by Alex [now up to 2nd] then Ian [3rd] followed by Chris [5th]. Nick came across the line 5th. Tim resolutely defended his last position to the bitter end; refusing even to use his gaily-whipped and spliced port and starboard beautiful new oars. Rob, though, was a full lap ahead of everyone, completing 6 in total.

Meanwhile, Sam very kindly brought out half pints of lager shandy for David Jones on the Safety Boat, and for the OOD.

Abridged from Andy Ross – full version below

 

 

12 October 2017

Race Report: Sunday 8 October 2107: ‘Harvest Moon’

The Autumn Equinox combined with the ‘Harvest Moon’ brings forth the largest tides. And with them, the greatest yearly loads of silt in the river which floods the foreshore and the footpath with vast swathes either of deep nutrient-rich soil – or sticky sludge.

Onto this treacle-coloured and slippery water sailed Rob, Lev, Alex, Chris, Ian, Nick and Tim: testing the hypothesis whether a swollen silty river slows boats down – or maybe speeds them up with a soft lubrication with solvents in delicate suspension? But how could they see the difference?

For several October evenings, the moonrise comes soon after sunset. With a low Moon seeming huge many people assume that this common effect is caused by our atmosphere magnifying the image, but the explanation is far simpler. When the Moon is high overhead, it is dwarfed by the vast hemisphere of the heavens. By contrast, when the Moon is low at the equinox, it is viewed in proximity to earthly objects, such as buildings and trees, whose size and shape provide scale. This results in an abundance of low and bright moonlight early in the evening, which was a traditional aid to farmers [and their children] harvesting their summer-grown crops. Hence, the tradition of Harvest Festival. And its hymns.

But where did the hymns originally come from?

Akhenaton, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC, is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, the Sun, giving the solar deity a status far above a plethora of mere gods. He is regarded as the world’s first environmental science political philosopher King.

Akhenaton composed the Great Hymn to the Aten.

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!

They are hidden from the face (of man).

O sole god, like whom there is no other!

Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,

Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,

Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,

And what is on high, flying with its wings.

Similar incantations by the SGSC fleet enabled Rob to be in the lead by a minute at the end of the first round of an ‘A’ course, followed by Lev, then at one-second intervals by Alex, Chris and Ian – with Nick and Tim one-second apart at the rear.

Akhenaton established a court of unprecedented luxury and magnificence that placed great emphasis on a solar-centric theology. And that’s before you consider his marriage to Nefertiti, known as the Mona Lisa of antiquity, the “Great Royal Wife”; a celebrity star in her own right – famous in turn for being the mother of Tutankhamen.

 

Akhenaton oversaw the construction of some of the most massive temple complexes in ancient Egypt. In these new temples, orientated towards the east, facing in the direction of the sunrise, Aten was worshipped in the open sunlight rather than in dark temple enclosures as had been the previous custom. As well as being considered to be the first monotheist and environmental scientist in history, it is thought the stylistic similarities between Akhenaton’s Great Hymn to the Aten and the Biblical Psalm 104 subsequently gave rise to Judaism and then Christianity and the concept of a single creator God as the ultimate force of Nature;  the astrophysicist of all time.

And by this time, on lap 2, Rob was still leading the pack. But out of nowhere, like a new bright star being formed, Nick had burst in second place! He had overtaken Lev, now 3rd, followed by Alex, then Ian, Chris [now 6th], and Tim.

As great rivers do, the fundamental reality of the annual flooding of the Nile was both feared and counted on as the deliverer of massive sediments brought down from Ethiopia. Crops thrived on the rich soil left behind as the waters receded. On Strand on the Green the floods leave behind loads of chemical nutrients that have been swept into the drainage canals and ditches from over-fertilised farmland, ploughed and tilled and sprayed up and down because it is far easier and more profitable to do that with CAP farm subsidies based purely on maximising output than running tractors and machinery sideways across fields; which would prevent run-off and conserve the soil, just as horses and ploughs did. What then gets swept into the river are the billions of corpses of the mesofauna [beetles, springtails, bugs and mites] that eat and break down organic debris in the soil, keep roots clean and enable nutrient uptake through beneficial mycorrhizal fungal networks that connect individual plants together and transfer water, carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients and minerals. All that is killed off with pesticides and fungicides. And so we see the viridian green mats of algal growth on the foreshore, heaving with chemicals.

After lap 3 there was no change in the running order. Rob still first, Nick second, Lev 3rd, Alex 4th, Ian 5th, Chris 6th and Tim 7th.

But as for the question of who is the real true leader, others [such as Freud] have likened some aspects of Akhenaton’s relationship with the Aten to the relationship, in the Christian tradition, of Jesus Christ with God. Akhenaton did call himself the son of the sole God: ‘Thine only son that came forth from thy body’. He described himself as the son of the Sun-Disc and he acted as the chief mediator between god and creation. Freud said that the close psychic relationship between father and son is such that only the king truly knows the heart of “his father”, and in return his father listens to his son’s prayers on behalf of the nation. He is his father’s image on earth, and as Akhenaton is king on earth, his father is king in heaven. So as high priest, prophet, king and divine, he claimed the central position in the new religious system.

Because only he knew his father’s mind and will, Akhenaton alone could interpret that will and the environmental consequences for the entire nation with true teaching and leadership coming from him. But Akhenaton discovered that silver linings are often accompanied by dark clouds; and continuing catastrophic floods undermined his solar-centric scientific predictions. He was deposed and his teaching abandoned.

And a change of the established order here too was soon to come. Rob was still far out ahead as first. But Lev and Ian were tied absolutely equal for second on lap 4. Alex was still 4th. And for unseen and unknown reasons, except no doubt to him, Nick had dropped down to 5th, with Chris and Tim still 6th and 7th.

Also the colour of the water has always been seen as significant. Just as colourless water mysteriously turns blue [due to absorption of other wavelengths] so the ruffles and ripples of cats’ paws on the water darken and lighten the surface. And just such patterns were spotted by the two children of a Swedish couple – who confidently and accurately told the OOD that they were due to wind going upwards into the clouds!

This inconveniently confused Lev who, though joint 2nd with Ian on the preceding lap, and approaching the upstream buoy on his 5th and final lap, inconveniently touched it, and so nobly did a 360 degree turn; thus dropping to 4th over the line; preceded by Alex [now up to 2nd] then Ian [3rd] followed by Chris [5th]. Nick had by then lost all his cats’ paws and came across the line 5th. With Tim still ensuring that no-one should be left behind, resolutely defending his last position to the bitter end; refusing even to use his gaily-whipped and spliced port and starboard beautiful new oars. In the light of a Harvest Moon handicap, however, maybe paradoxically he was actually first? Rob, though, was a full lap ahead of everyone: completing 6 in total.

Meanwhile, as the Harvest Festival would not ever be so jolly without sufficient to drink, Sam very kindly brought out half pints of lager shandy for David Jones on the Safety Boat, and for the OOD.

So what would a modern day Akhenaton make of the river-borne rites and rituals of SGSC’s celebration of the Harvest Moon? Who really owns the water? And will the science of climate change lift all boats, or rejections of it swamp them – and us all?

Given the floods, hurricanes and wildfires plaguing the planet, and the intonations of Mark Carney, High Priest of the Financial Stability Board foreseeing massive climate change disruption to financial markets [a message only amplified by Donald Trump] we may consider this attempt to connect these ideas together in this post-COP21, pre-Brexit, Harvest Festival Hymn. And, as Akhenaton did; hope and pray it works.

As the trade winds blow over thirsty plains,
My soul will sing to the Lord,
And the storm clouds pour with reviving rains,
My heart gives thanks to Him.
Every season whispers the mystery,
The glorious rhythm of life,
Till the harvest comes from the boundless goodness
Of the Father’s hand.

When the crops have failed and the fields are bare,
My soul will cry to the Lord.
When the hungry know only death’s despair,
My heart will look to Him.
For the call goes out from the heart of God
To share with those in need;
As we feed the world we reflect the goodness
Of the Father’s hand.

©Stuart Townend

 

 

 

 

© Andy Ross

12 October 2017

Race Results – 20 August 2017 – Strand Challenge Regatta

After a week of blustery winds Sunday promised to be somewhat quieter.  The flotillas from London Corinthians Sailing Club and, more distant, South Bank Sailing Club started assembling around the Railway Bridge just before mid-day, and continued to arrive up to the race start time.   The foreshore was chaotic with the 24 boats that eventually started the race landing and launching – 9 from SGSC, 8 from SBSC and 7 from LCSC.  A triangular A-course was set using the rowing buoy as the Surrey bank mark and with the downstream buoy below the slip-dock.  The wind recorded at Kew Gardens was W or WSW through the afternoon at F3 but on the river, as usual, it was all over the place.  The very crowded start line at the Bell and Crown got away with a tail wind but against the tide after a delay to wait for stragglers.  Two Lasers struggled to disentangle themselves from the tree outside the Bell and Crown but eventually re-joined the fleet.

James Armitage showed his familiarity with these waters, amongst other skills, and established an unassailable lead on the first lap.  He romped around in 17 minutes leaving a batch of three followers (Alan (LCSC); Sarah (SBSC); Joseph (SGSC) completing in 21 – 22 minutes, and with the rest of the fleet in bunches giving the OODs (Stephen and Henry) a recording nightmare thereafter.  By the second lap James was 7 minutes clear of his son Joseph, with Val (LCSC); Sarah (LCSC); Tom (SBSC); and Alan (LCSC) breathing down his neck.

The main blockage was approaching the downstream buoy, which was perhaps set a bit far down, and much of the fleet was in a complex weaving, drifting raft at that end of the course for much of the race.  The upstream Surrey buoy gave others some grief: Nick (SGSC) and Sam (SGSC) both got caught by the tide on the wrong side of it in a lull of the wind.

James did 10 minute laps for his third and fourth and finished with a (fifth)15 minute lap, by which time he had overtaken everyone at least once.  Val, working his way up through the fleet after his tangle with a tree at the start, was just ahead of James as he (Val) completed his 4th and was thus sent around to do a fifth – the only other boat to do so.

According to the hard-pressed OODs five boats made a fourth lap, Sam only managed one (four crew in a Wayfarer), Tim made two in his Gull and the rest did three laps.  The OODs apologise unreservedly for any laps they failed to record – there must be some they missed.

PS October 2017 … Sally Pierce of SBSC  has told us she did 4 laps not 3, which puts her in 6th place and means that SBSC beat SGSC in the team points.  The corrected results are below.

The result was a clear win for James (Ent, SGSC) and a clear second place for Val (Laser, LCSC).  The third place was very closely contested on corrected time by Sarah (Solo, SBSC), Alan and Steph (Ent, SBSC) and Joseph (Laser, SGSC) in that order – a good spread of clubs and boats.  Two team prizes are awarded for this event, both based on the aggregate positions of the first six boats in each club.  The SGSC/SBSC Challenge Trophy went to SBSC, and the SGSC/LCSC Challenge Trophy went by a slightly wider margin to SGSC.

And afterwards there was a sumptuous tea including barbequed sausages and burgers with all the trimmings.  Many thanks to Mary S and Mary B and an army of helpers and providers.

Please note that, in place of the Gins weekend, there will be an A-course points race on 27 August starting at 17:40.

Race Results – 13 August 2017 – Long Distance

 

After a week of wet and cold, Sunday was a gentle summers day with sunshine but very little wind.  Only two boats turned out for the annual game of guessing when the tide will turn at Battersea, Tim Young in his Gull and Michael Welburn in his Leader.  Tim started first at 1100, guessing / calculating that the flood would start at about 1330.  He was followed 10 minutes later by Michael in his theoretically much faster boat.  Tim reported an easy sail downstream with steady progress. The wind reported at Kew Gardens started in the North and steadily backed to the SW by 1300, with a force of F2 or less, helping the boats down to Battersea but not by much.  Tim reached the Railway Bridge on schedule at 1335, turned, and headed back.  Micheal got there over an hour later at 12:42 and started back with the benefit of the flood tide but into the slight wind.  By the time they reached the River Wandle just upstream of Wandsworth Bridge they had had enough of slow tacking.  David Jones in the safety boat was on hand to broker an agreement to cease racing and to retire to a riverside hostelry. After some refreshment David towed them back to Strand.

The Master of the Sums deemed it an honourable attempt at the Long Distance prize and the sums showed an easy win for Tim with a corrected time of an hour and twenty two minutes to Battersea Railway Bridge.

Race Results – 6 August 2017

It was a lovely summers day with a blustery W wind gusting to the top of F3 with many a random shift and lull.  Seven boats launched – some with trepidation following the squally experience of the Ladies Plate the day before – but in the end the conditions were manageable by all.  A triangular A-course was set with a downstream buoy just above the draw dock and the rowing buoy serving our purpose on the Surrey side.  From the start the main contenders were Rob Collingwood (solo in his Enterprise) and James (with novice crew) who both completed 9 laps, with Rob leading, exasperatingly for him, until the last one. They lapped everyone else at least once.  The Browns and Alex Pape were next over the line after 8 laps, then the two Gulls of Lev Kolobov and Tim Young with 7 laps, and finally a creditable performance by relative novice Michael Wellburn with two crew in his Leader with 5 laps.

Enoch Rodriguez supervised us all and Dave Jones hovered to cover any mishaps.  It was good to see Kurt and Margaret Berger at the start line.

Next week it’s the Long Distance Race –  you pick your own start time with the intention of reaching Battersea Railway Bridge just as the flood tide starts, and you are responsible for recording your time back to Strand (downstream side of the Kew Railway Bridge).  It’s a unique SGSC event and offers views of the ever-changing vistas of the Fulham, Wandsworth and Battersea Reaches as well as a challenge in reading the tide tables.

Race Results – 5 August 2017 – Ladies Plate

With a gentle breeze forecast and three competitors, the race promised well and was in the event quite exciting. Lucy crewed by Rob in the Collingwood’s Enterprise, Mary (Short) crewed by James in the Armitage Enterprise, and Catherine crewed by Alex in his lugsail-rigged former International 14 all made an orderly start on the triangular A course. Before the race there was sunshine and a steady westerly force 2 wind, but soon after a mass of nimbus arrived, with squalls and a heavy shower. All three helms found it difficult to keep control, and Catherine retired after two laps and Lucy after three. Mary led from the start and battled on, wearing round rather than gybing in the worst of the gusts, and was given the finishing whistle after four laps and 23 minutes to win.

Thanks to Tim (Young) in the safety boat, who laid the course, kept a watchful eye on race management, and supported the hard-pressed crews.

Nick Floyer OOD

Race Results – 30 July 2017

Andy Ross [OOD & Safety Boat] Race Report: 30.07.2017. The Great Stink

Does a bear shit in the woods? [Rhetorically: Yes]. And pollute its habitat? [Biologically: No]. Does Thames Water illegally excrete billions of litres of sewage into the river Thames whenever it rains? [Deliberately: Yes].  And does it pollute the entire river ecosystem? [Unequivocally and disgustingly: Yes].

But with no such spillage in sight, nor suspiciously smelled in the nose, and on a sunny and becalmed Strand foreshore Tim (1) Young and Lev [both in Gulls] and Tim (2) Wellburn with Alex Romanenko [Ent] and Terry Atkins [in his de-spidered Solo, once he had found its mast] consulted with Andy Ross [as both OOD and Safety Boat] on whether it would even be possible to get to Hammersmith. A double D race was scheduled: [2 races: one there, one back] – with a restart line wherever the OOD decided to land the Dory. And he had with him flasks of tea and stocks of biscuits for a refreshing picnic party on the beach.

A casual drift under the railway bridge down to Number Nought was perfectly timed during the 4 & 2 minute start time to facilitate the fleet floating onward. The gentlest of SE wind coming up river then picked up and it was suddenly very lively. Tim (2) charged across the river into the path of a rowing boat and drastic evasive action meant sudden baling out. Terry surprised himself leaning out over the gunwale staring down at a vertical drop. The wind in the willows turned the long green leaves lengthwise into silver streaks, line-dancing like cheerleaders with pompoms and ribbons. The gusts banged everyone about all the way to Chiswick Bridge. And then abruptly stopped.

Lev and Tim (1) drifted round the Barnes bend and were well beyond the railway bridge before Tim (2) and Terry got to the White Hart. Terry chose the inside arch and emerged to race across the river with broad reaches and increasingly wild tacks, each more perilous than the previous one, until with insufficient water to turn on the shallow shore he tipped over. Spluttering to the surface he was confronted with two condoms hanging off his centerboard – surely not part of the safety equipment? And he was minus both his wellington boots. C-Sharp was beached and tilted to empty its contents: and several more condoms, ghostly as dead jelly fish floated out. What is the collective noun for them?  A gang-bang?

By this time there was no sign of the other three boats. But Terry had had enough and wanted to be towed back. However, the Safety Boat has a duty of care to the fleet. Thankfully the dilemma was resolved as the sun came out and the wind dropped; warming things up. Terry agreed to come on board and we began slowly towing C-Sharp – not knowing how best to prevent the boat yawing from side to side and broaching broadside on (OOD).

We soon spotted a single mast on the foreshore just beyond the RNLI pier: Tim!

We got there to discover the dreadful mess the river was in. A thick, brown-green, slimy, turdy sludge covered the foreshore – and with a foul smell in the air. Tim had capsized right beside one of the four Acton sewer storm outfalls along this stretch; which had been belching out its contents. His capsizing had been totally unobserved [or willfully ignored] by the fully geared-up crews on the two RNLI boats that were right there. As if the putrid state of the river itself wasn’t an immediately obvious health and safety peril to anyone falling in it!

Tim said Steve Newell had just been by and said that the sewage came from Mogden. But it hadn’t. It’s worse than that. And closer to home.

Thames Water says that the overflow problem is due to an overloaded Victorian sewer system designed for 2 million people, now coping with 8m – and forecasting 14m. Their proposed solution is the Thames Tideway Tunnel [TTT], which they describe as a beneficial environmental engineering project to clean up the river.  In fact, it is a gigantic financial engineering project to clean up Thames Water’s balance sheet.

Following privatization, Thames Water [TW] now has an extraordinarily complex and opaque corporate structure with at least ten tiered companies owned and controlled by investors in tax havens ranging from the Cayman Islands to Luxembourg. The company has paid over £1.1billion in dividends to its shareholders but has paid no corporation tax to the UK for the past 5 years. It has raised debts of over £5 billion through tax havens which are used to fund its operations; including the up-grading of Mogden; as required by Ofwat.

Despite these self-beneficial tax arrangements, TW is loading the entire £4.2 billion cost of construction of TTT [at 2011 prices; wait for the update] onto water consumers across the whole of the Thames valley, despite it being only an Inner London project. Additionally, TW has persuaded the government to agree to underpin the entire cost of TTT with public money! The cost recovery is guaranteed through all water bills which are due to rise by at least £25 per capita. And that does not yet including the financing costs which, alone, on a 100-year horizon, will be at least an extra £20 billion, depending on interest rates.

The whole project is totally unnecessary. Technologies for collecting, storing and managing waste water outflows have improved dramatically in recent years. Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems [SUDS] are now a requirement of all architectural design practices and in all urban planning. The use of permeable materials, rainwater harvesting, distributed storage, ecological grey water recycling and real-time computer monitoring are components of an Integrated Water Resource Management Approach – in compliance with the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, and the EU Water Framework Directive.

These technologies obviously have a cost – which TW is totally unwilling to invest in itself – claiming they are entirely a property developer’s responsibility. Its investors rely on the guaranteed income of a regulated utility, and drastic cost reductions. What TW has done instead is to criminally manipulate the monitoring and reporting of its sewage treatment works to lower its operating costs. Just as car companies rigged their exhaust test data, so TW rigged the ‘self-regulatory’ data it provided to the Environment Agency and Ofwat.

What TW did was ‘flow-clipping’. This technique by-passes inputs to the sewage effluent tanks [which have permanent EA data pollution monitors on their pipes] to send raw sewage into offline storage tanks, without any monitors on them – which it then discharged into rivers. But TW was found out.

As a result, the judge at Aylesbury Crown Court on 22 March 2017 fined TW £20m in fines and costs for the illegal discharge of over 4.2 billion litres of sewage into the river. The judge also applied a ‘proportionate multiplier’ which factored in TW’s turnover and ability to pay – with a warning that this deliberate abuse of data reporting would, if repeated, attract a very much escalated fine.

In addition, EU infraction fines for non-compliance with the EU UWWTD are currently estimated at £2.8 billion, accruing daily. A reasoned opinion from the European Commission has been sent to HM Government concerning its failure to properly transpose the EU Water Framework Directive into UK law because only 17% of UK water companies [all similarly privatized] had achieved the required monitoring status by 2015, [relying on the industry to ‘self-regulate’] when all should have done so. No wonder the government is so extremely keen to rid itself of EU ‘red tape’ – and the supervision of the European Court of Justice!

The preferred outcome for TW and TTT and their shareholders is that their dreadfully expensive and totally redundant super sewer under the river Thames, entirely paid for by the public for generations to come, continues to be tolerated as needed, based on the trust and goodwill that consumers have in TW as an environmentally branded company. All costs entirely off the books of TW; and with a guaranteed income to its shareholders! How fiendishly clever is that!

Unfortunately, the Financial Times and the ratings agencies [Moody’s, Fitch, S&P] disagree. Investigations into TW’s finances by the FT are continuing. And the attempt by TTT to launch its £4.2bn fund-raising in the City as a “Green Bond” has failed. What TW presented was blatant green-wash. At best, it will be treated as a standard civil engineering project; it’s basically and obviously only a 25km-long concrete tube. And serious questions are being asked about its technical credentials given the other solutions readily available at far less cost. TW nevertheless says it’s: ‘all going according to plan’ and test drills have been sunk. But no real work has yet been commissioned.

The unfortunate result of all this deliberate gaming of the financial and political system by TW / TTT is what SGSC was standing in and swimming in on Sunday.

Leaving Tim (1) in charge of both his own boat and C-Sharp, Terry and Andy went off in search of Tim (2) and Lev. In the distance, a blue Enterprise was seen capsizing at Corinthian’s. When the safety boat got there it was apparent it had turned over on the foreshore in the wind. Not only was it grossly besmirched with foul stains – but its helm and crew had no appetite to continue, and want a tow home.  Lev, meanwhile, was cheerfully tacking back and forth, didn’t want a tow, and was waiting for the re-start! Accordingly, the OOD blew him a start whistle.

Back with Tim, with Lev sailing on, the three boats were tied onto the new, soft and super-flexible – and thankfully long – Arthur Beale towline. But before setting off; tea was drunk and biscuits distributed to comfort the wet and weary sailors.

Lev was practically back in home waters on the mid B course by the time the safety boat drew level. Only to find out that in getting there he had capsized twice! Adding to the one that had apparently happened on the way down! To his great dismay he had lost a favourite jacket, and a signed paddle – but not his red plastic bucket baler! Lev and the safety boat with its three towed craft all crossed the finish line under railway bridge simultaneously.

The Great Stink was an event in central London in July and August 1858 during which the hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames.

The scientist Michael Faraday described the situation in a letter to The Times in July 1855: shocked at the state of the Thames, he had dropped pieces of white paper into the river to: “test the degree of opacity”. His conclusion was that: “Near the bridges the feculence rolled up in clouds so dense that they were visible at the surface, even in water of this kind. … The smell was very bad, and common to the whole of the water; it was the same as that which now comes up from the gully-holes in the streets; the whole river was for the time a real sewer.”