It was good that there was sufficient wind to warrant a B course rather than the fallback option of an A course. It was a delightfully sunny morning and the conditions at the upstream end of the course were calm though the wind was prone to vanishing completely for short periods. Further downstream the sailors reported a tendency for changeable wind direction and wind speed.
The safety boat was manned by David Jones accompanied by Paco and Kieran Biekarck whose services were only called upon after the race finish to help Keith Clarke in his Laser get back to the club under the railway bridge on the rising tide.
Nick Floyer in his lovely Gull got off to a quick start and was first to reach the downstream buoy but was beaten to the first lap by Chris Greenwood and Felicia in his Leader. Chris maintained his lead on the second lap but then Lev Kolobov and David (Enterprise) sneaked ahead and stayed there to finish the fourth and final lap 10 minutes ahead. Keith and then Nick followed after a further ten minutes, only 6 seconds apart.
Next week is an A-course after a working party, and the Master of Sums is off to Greece for 7 weeks. Could OODs please leave results sheets in the Arch so that Nick can collect them and do the sums?
Sunday was cloudy with a F3 N wind – appropriate conditions for a B-course.
Five boats rigged on a rapidly shrinking foreshore: Lev and David Kolobov in his Enterprise; Chris Greenwood and Felicia in his Leader; Sam Shemtob with two crew in his Wayfarer; Tim Young in his Wanderer; and Nick Floyer in his Gull. Mary Brown (OOD) commanded the start line and Henry with David Jones and Tim Williamson manned the safety boat. Nick made two attempts at launching but both times he was assaulted by a nasty gust upstream of the railway bridge and, fearing worse conditions further downstream, decided to retire.
The others started on time and running before the following wind set off in line abreast, abreast the tide. Sam, with his well-ladened boat fell astern but the other three kept pace pretty well with Lev mostly in the lead. We had dropped the bottom mark just upstream of Chiswick Marina and Lev, then Chris and Tim rounded it after about 15 minutes and started the steady beat back upstream with the tide. Lev was well clear at the top mark (just downstream of the railway bridge) and completed his first lap after 25 minutes; two minutes ahead of Chris and Tim, who were a mere 2 seconds apart. The second and final lap followed the same pattern but at a much slower pace: the wind had dropped considerably and the flood tide was still strong. All four boats took between 80 and 84 minutes for the lap. Lev finished about two minutes ahead of Chris, leading Tim by 4 minutes with Sam about 5 minutes astern.
Tim then had an unfortunate contact with the bridge as a gust caught him before he had lowered his mast. The damage to Ait Knots remains to be determined. But he has the compensation of winning in all three points series in a very consistent display of sailing. And all participants were rewarded by a plate of flapjack provided by the OOD.
Next week is the 3-4 -day downstream marathon to our neighbours at Corinthians, South Bank and Ranelagh.
OOD: Leona Shepherd Safety Boat: Lev Kolobov Weather: Fair; Light wind moving between E and SSW. Course: A
Six boats launched by 18:40 in a light E wind. Race started at 19.00. On the water there was: Keith Clarke in Kaia; Distant Thunder, helmed by Chris Greenwood with Felicia crewing; Ben Chappell in Envy; James Armitage with Nikita as crew in Zephyr; Rob Adams in Phoebe; Nick Floyer in Flo. A fine evening down by the river. Thanks to the earlier premier league game there was an unusually large audience cheering our racers along at the start of the race. A steady wind from the East made for excellent times with pacey upriver legs in the initial laps and it was neck and neck for a while. The audience support continued too. On the fourth lap the wind remained tangible but moved around, coming from the South and the West – though it was quite inconsistent on the water. As the sun dipped Ben, always the competitor, was seen racing 2 geese with their 4 goslings – Ben won of course! After seven laps James crossed the line first at 47 minutes, followed by Rob, Chris, Ben and finally Nick. Leona (OOD)
The afternoon did not get off with a promising start and if anything it just got worse!
There was little breeze and a persistent drizzle from the outset. The planned “B” course was never a realistic possibility so thoughts moved towards a short “A” with a Zoffany start provided we had enough sailors/boats (at least 3) along with a safety boat crew and OOD. We had a full complement of officials but it was well inside the last 40 minutes or so before we had three boats declaring intentions to launch and in the end we got four. Perhaps the televised Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley was keeping everyone away. By the time the last trolley was back up the ramp the OOD had too little time to close up the arch and hasten along to the start which was three minutes late as a result. Many thanks at this point to Heather Adams for providing a folding chair which was later moved to under the shelter of a tree.
Two Buoys had been laid for a short “A” with the upstream one by the Bell and Crown. Progress was agonisingly slow and after 30 minutes no-one had reached the first mark and one boat had been rescued from the jaws of Kew Bridge at least once. That race was then cancelled, the downstream buoy moved nearer the bank and the upstream buoy only just downstream of the start/finish line.
The second attempt at holding a race was more successful but only just. The most exciting event of the afternoon was the appearance of a black swan (pictured) which seemed to swim around totally at ease with a dozen of the white variety and a few of the inevitable Canada geese. “Porpoise” (Enterprise) eventually broke free and completed a lap in 24 minutes followed by the other two survivors about ten minutes later. The other Laser had long since requested a tow back to base so all finishers got on the podium!
OOD – Steve Newell; Safety Boat – Tom Broadhurst, David Jones.
Eight boats took advantage of the good sailing weather. The combination of a flood tide and easterly wind was unpropitious for the scheduled ‘B’ Course, so a triangular ‘A’ Course was substituted, with the orange River buoy serving as the downwind mark on the Surrey Bank, matched by one laid opposite The Steam Packet steps, with an upwind mark towards the eastern end of Oliver’s island.
Half the fleet achieved a sub-10 minute first lap, Rob Adams making a very fast start on the Surrey side and pipping James by nine seconds to be first boat round. This duel continued, with positions reversed on the second lap but only six seconds separating the two, a margin which James and crew Felicia slightly increased over subsequent laps.
Chris and Lev also dualled throughout the race, switching places several times over the six laps which they sailed, chasing James and Rob. Ben, sailing hard and never far behind Chris and Lev, crossed the finishing line a lap but only two seconds behind frontrunner James, seemingly not deterred by the near-prospect of having to make another full circuit.
The larger and smaller boats – Sam’s Wayfarer, Tim’s Wanderer and Nick’s Gull were, perhaps, less suited to the conditions, Sam, achieving five laps in just over an hour but Tim and Nick only four.
Weather: Fair; Light wind moving between NE and S.
Four boats launched at 14:25 in a light NE wind. Race started at 14:41.
On the water there was: one Laser – Keith Clarke in Kaia; oneEnterprise – Dave Berger helming Big Polly; one Little Boat – Tim Young captaining Ait Knots; one Leader – Distant Thunder, helmed by Felicia with her husband Pacu crewing.
The rain cleared just before the starting whistle, and a steady, if light, wind ensured that the race got off to a good start. Keith almost made the perfect start but unfortunately had to come round again in the last 7 seconds allowing Dave to take an early lead. This did not last long and throughout the first three laps the fleet was neck and neck.
On the fourth lap the wind became more variable in direction and strength, making the down-river stretch slow and tricky, while the up-river leg was quite pacey. Unfortunately Tim accidentally caught the up-stream buoy at the end of his 3rd lap and took a penalty. As near-by competitors struggled to see the buoy, which was hidden by Ait Knots, this was a moment when the race started to spread out.
The wind eventually died making the last laps much longer than the first three and bringing the average lap time down. After six laps Dave crossed the line first at 64 minutes, followed by Keith 12minutes later with Felicia and Pacu only 3minutes behind him, and finally Tim.
Six boats launched at 16:10 in a light NE wind, heading for Hammersmith.
Three Lasers took to the water: Joseph in Punt; Rob in Phoebe and Keith in Kaia.
Enterprises were represented by just Lev and David in Porpoise, and by Big Polly, the latter helmed on this occasion by David Berger.
Nick Floyer brought a little variety to the fleet in his attractive wooden Gull (flo).
A run took the competitors as far as Barnes Bridge, but it was beating beyond that, and quite gusty in places. However, the River outran the race, with the tide turning just before Chiswick Pier, so James in the Safety Boat dropped a buoy to shorten the course.
Returning, the boats had a run to near the brewery, but beating thereafter, meeting some renewed gusts after Chiswick Bridge.
Nick put discretion before valour on the return leg and initially sailed on the jib but, confounded by contrary winds, subsequently retired, accepting a tow.
The OOD resumed his post neatly in time to record Joseph and then Rob over the line, separated by less than a minute, followed 5 minutes later by David in his borrowed Ent. Then, a bit under 10 minutes later, Keith pipped Lev to the line by less than 30 seconds.
A dry, sunny afternoon. High spring tide with varying wind conditions 2 gusting 4 from SSE.
A “B” course was set with an upstream buoy laid at the Bulls Head Pub close in and a downstream buoy laid at Chiswick Staithe.
Four Enterprises: Zephyr (James and Ruth), Porpoise (Lev and David), Big Polly (David and Shelia) and Ixion (Tim and Emma).
A Leader (Chris and Felicia in Distant Thunder) and Envy (Ben in his Laser) and not forgetting those tan sails of Eeyore (Nick and Nicole plus Poppy the dog).
The race commenced at 14.40.
A good start was made by all apart from Eeyore, swept under the railway bridge well before the start. Ixion was also struggling against the tide and wind. Sam helped in the safety boat with a tow – accepted by Ixion but Eeyore decided to row back to the Club Ramp. Poppy was very pleased.
A difficult sail against the Spring Tide and the SSE wind but incident free, no capsizes but long lap times.
Zephyr raced ahead and maintained the lead throughout the race.
Zephyr completed three laps in 70.25 minutes.
Big Polly and Porpoise also completed three laps in 91.22 and 92.40 minutes – close racing.
Distant Thunder and Envy completed two laps in 87.00 and 91.55 minutes.
Ixion persevered with stemming the tide but eventually retired.
Thanks to Sam and Nikita in the Safety Boat for course setting and for safety watch.
It was a fine spring day with a south wind gusting at the top end of F3, five boats starting. James got a really good start to windward with a lift that sent him clear of the others. Ben did a quick capsize after Rob had persuaded him to sail with the Laser main sheeted in tighter than his usual habit. The course was shortened by the safety boat because the tide turned at St Nicholas Church. On the way back there was close racing between Chris and Ben with Chris crossing the finishing line just before Ben.
The star of the day was Nick in the Duckling with a well sailed leg to St Nicholas’s Church well behind the leaders, but then benefitting with plenty of rising tide under him to make a swift passage back to Strand to the cheers of the front runners. Next week it’s a B-course starting at 14:40.
Hath pierced the drought of March to the root’s feet
And bathed each vein in liquor of such power
Its strength creates the newly-springed flower
So Nature stirs them up to such a pitch
That folk all long to go on pilgrimage
And wandering travellers tread new shores, strange strands.
Geoffrey Chaucer. (1360). General Prologue. The Canterbury Tales.
The Spring Working Party had power-washed the safety boat and hedge-trimmed the foliage, stacking the branches in a spring-green avenue, to enable a parade of 9 boats onto the bone-chillingly cold river that the OOD’s thermometer registered at just 9 degrees Celsius.
An F1-F3 wind, feeling much colder than the 9 degrees air, was steadily from the North which indicated a long ‘A’ course, wind over tide, as the best option for David Jones to lay one buoy upstream beyond the Bell & Crown and the other far downstream towards the City Barge. It could even have enabled a classic ‘Round the Island Race’.
As the OOD arrived to set up the flags, so two 24’ Cornish 4-seater all-women gigs; plus 2 male coxes, happy followers after the Women’s Boat Race, arrived to celebrate their Cambridge win – and moor their boat bows to the shore, across the river, until very politely being invited by the OOD to consider mooring behind each other alongside the bank – which they kindly agreed to do; helped by the very knowledgeable and honourable presence of Margaret Berger, who could attest to the wisdom of their not being in the way of the sailors of the SGSC!
Lev [with David] was the last to the start line – and most adroitly turned to cross it first while the remaining fleet drifted back; all then finding just enough in a stiff puff to get them going – with Nick in the Duckling flapping about at the rear to stay in touch. The wind quickly picked up to F3 and James [with Ruth] decided to sail out the mainstream and go outside the PLA trot – and he was followed by David Berger in Big Polly [with Nikita, a very friendly Russian, recruited on the day for an exploratory sail], while everyone else stuck to the North bank run.
A 15-minute circuit brought them back to the ODD, with James in the lead, but now with Ian in Vibe second, with David just behind, but only one second ahead of Tim. Then, within two minutes, both Rob and Ben, then Chris [with Felicia] and Lev [with David], each pair sparred within a second of each other.
On the second lap, James repeated his main river trick – but stalled at the crossing before Oliver Island, though he was now followed by both Ben and Rob, while Ian and Tim still preferred the inside track. Apart from James [and Nick, who was about to be lapped by him], all the other 7 boats were now all about to cross the line simultaneously, all within exactly the same minute of each other; a nightmare for the OOD with a cheerful Boat Race party going on around him!
Thankfully, the stiffening wind then stretched the fleet out for a third lap time ranging from 10 minutes to 52 [alas for Nick] while Ian mysteriously disappeared for a while [becalmed somewhere in monastic contemplation] – but still a minute and a half ahead of Tim; though now just 4 minutes in front of James, who could potentially have lapped him
The fourth lap saw Nick drop well back, while Chris [with Felicia] was still keeping in touch with the Enterprises, and ahead of Ian and Tim who were fortunate to be just two seconds behind James who got the notice of the final lap.
Ian snuck across the line just 2 seconds after James on his 5th and final lap to finish with four laps, likewise followed by Tim.
Also with five laps each were David [with Nikita] and Rob – also just one second apart. And then, controversially, Lev and Ben – each also one second apart. Ben thought he had somewhere transgressed in a manoeuvre; but this was unseen by anyone else – and though it was asserted by him that the times should be reversed, the ODD recorded the observed timing.
One minute later, Chris [with Felicia] arrived last to finish, but very happy to finish, cheerfully crossing the line to the OOD’s whistle – and waving greetings to the pub crowd!
It so happened that, while these two pairs of finishers were within one second of each other, so also the two Cornish gigs Boat Race party of 10, 5 in each boat, decided that now was the time for their departure – and so amidst a flurry of bags and jackets and unsteady tumbling down steps into their rocky boats, this dramatic race was concluded.
However, the end of our race was not according to the normal Boat Race tradition of the winning team’s cox [James, the helm] being thrown into the river! That would have made ours a Real Boat Race!
What was actually tossed into the river was the ritualistic Spring offering of green hedge foliage, swept away on the stream water flowing from our 12-foot deep down-to-the-riverbed well under the canoe rack, also at 9 degrees Celsius; delivering piercing cold to the root’s feet for the folk on their pilgrimage on the Strand.
Tea and Waitrose Chocolate Biscuits Selection warmed everyone up, down to the root’s feet; especially those of David Jones for his single-handled work in the Safety Boat.