Race Report, 19 August 2018

 

Race Report: 19 August 2018: INVISIBLE WIND

There was a pungent smell of rotting seaweed on the beach at Strand which floated on an Invisible Wind and lazily flapped around the sails of Nick, Tim, James and Lev and Michael and Alice on hot and humid Sunday as they prepared for a ‘D’ course down to Hammersmith.

Perhaps it came from the churned-up stones as the Safety Boat was grumbled and graunched on broken rollers down the shore accompanied, as if in an awful concert, by the groaning cries of David who every winter has to repair the damage to the hull – and who was coming on board with Andy [standing in for Enoch, who was taking Zena to enrol at the University of Amsterdam].

A generally Westerly wind occasionally stirred itself up into a brisk gust – and then dropped away.

Henry was OOD, and by the time he had whistled for the start Michael was only just afloat on the water – and was having trouble with his rudder. He came ashore again at the start line to attend to it while the others sailed off. By the time he had fixed it [temporarily as it turned out] the fleet of three were still only a quarter of the way to Chiswick Bridge.

The mid-channel course was an empty conveyor belt with barely a ripple on the water, though ominously the tall trees of Hartington Road were swinging about quite wildly. Something was up there.

But it appeared it was going to be a long and slow journey to Hammersmith.

David leant back in the bow and got out his pipe and while he recounted stories of his son Robert filming with Tom Cruise in Budapest he repeatedly failed to light it while, in a premonition of things to come, pernicious little gusts of Invisible Wind blew it out – and he wished he’d brought along the yachtsman’s all-weather butane torch lighter that Norbert had given him.

While the blue Enterprise sail of James and Lev was now out of sight, the tips of Tim and Nick’s white sails could just be seen going round the Barnes brewery bend as Michael and Alice meandered their way gently towards and under Chiswick Bridge.

Then my mobile phone unexpectedly rang!

Not anticipating David for company, luckily I had it with me; planning to do little else than peacefully drink some iced tea from a picnic flask and listen on my headphones to the competition of the Eurovision Young Musicians of the Year 2018 on Radio 3. Will this continue post-Brexit? Where will young musicians’ and composers travel grants and their funding come from in future? Do Brexiteers listen to anything other than Land of Hope and Glory? Will they play it from loudspeakers on every lamppost, every morning – like a call to prayer?  Or is that, absurdly, to fear Fascism?

It was Tim! He’s capsized! And could the Safety Boat please come and help him?

How could that happen? Where was he? And, extraordinarily, how did he manage to call me while in the water? Was his i-phone amazingly waterproof? Tim is recognised as a magician of everything electronic, and an expert trader on E-Bay – but this matter was not up for auction. We sped off to find him.

As we came further round the Barnes bend, there was indeed a boat in the water.

But it was not Tim’s overturned Axolotyl, thankfully not embarrassingly displaying a very large and very pink Englishman’s bottom, looking as if it was sun-blushed with too much overexposed backside of flesh on a nudist holiday beach.

No! This was an oyster-white and rather smaller hull at right-angles to the waterline. It was Nick.

And around the bend coming the other way was the RNLI lifeboat at full speed with a huge bow wave and its blue lights rotating. Where were they going – and how were we going to manage the wash as they sped by?

The RNLI stopped by Nick. They were there for him!

Nick was clinging to the bow. As we edged in closer to him the RNLI boat backed off, and went around us in a circle. Were they going to help; or just observe us? David caught Nick’s bow line, while the Safety Boat was gently manoeuvred alongside – and the RNLI man shouted loudly that we should mind out as there was a man in the water; which was very obvious, and was actually the whole point of us being there!

Nick was not saying anything much at all. This was a bit worrying. Was he OK? The step ladder was fixed alongside – and Nick was invited to climb up it. But he couldn’t. He said he couldn’t lift his legs. Was he injured?  He didn’t reply. He said: “You’ll have to lift me out”. I really wondered about the risk of this. What was wrong with his legs – or perhaps even his back? I was suddenly glad the RNLI was there, hovering. This might be a very real emergency. But Nick was trying to float his legs up, parallel to the surface – and he was bending his knees, and kicking the water, so he seemed to be uninjured. But it’s difficult to do anyway. And he was obviously quite exhausted.

So grabbing onto his life jacket and his trousers and with a mighty heave he was brought slithering and sloshing like a large Labrador dog into the Safety Boat. But still he was not saying anything. It seemed to me that he was perhaps in shock. I turned to the RNLI boat and asked if they could take him onboard; telling them also that Nick was hard of hearing – if only to help to justify hitching a lift with them, and saying that the Safety Boat had to catch up with the other sailors. They said they would – and asked where to take him; and I said back to SGSC.

Meanwhile, Michael had very slowly passed us by; virtually un-noticed. So as the RNLI motored off up-river, with Nick safely wrapped up in a thermal blanket, and with his boat tied alongside, the Safety Boast anxiously sped off to find the others.

And immediately, there was James and Lev coming back!

How could they possibly have got all the way down to Hammersmith, and back, against the tide? Was the wind down there that strong? We came alongside and James said they had turned: “at the green buoy” – but without saying which one. And half a mile later we found Tim and Michael were virtually side by side of each other; – and completely becalmed, in the open water just after Barnes Railway Bridge.

And there was a green buoy, against which the tide had turned. This must be it.

And for the next 20 minutes the two of them played a ceaseless game of hide and seek with an Invisible Wind that sometimes appeared to roughen the water with small cat’s paws – always out of reach just two or three boat lengths away – and sometimes within the slack eddies by the river bank under the trees by the bandstand – which solemnly refused to play any water music. But, inch by inch, they crept forward until, with a great tiller-waggling flourish, Tim turned round the buoy. And five minutes later, after showing micrometer judgment and with nano-second fine-timing against the now fast-running tide, Michael turned round the buoy too.

So now then for the easy run home; high-speed assisted with the tide!

Not a bit of it.

For Michael in particular it was totally extraordinary that no matter which way he pointed the boat, it was always going to go head-to-wind a moment or two later.

Again and again Michael crossed the river, searching for a steady wind. But it was invisible. And it was constantly twisting about. A stalling struggle through Barnes Railway Bridge was not helped with the recurring difficulty of controlling the rudder; which kept popping up.

And it was clear that the Invisible Wind that had done for Nick, [and had, apparently, almost brought Tim to grief too, while someone on the bank had seen Nick capsize and had called 999], was blowing in a line from Chiswick Bridge to the White Hart, and it was very much stronger than it appeared. Michael was now in danger of an imminent capsize – which could have been perfectly timed, if it was going to happen, with the leisurely return of the RNLI lifeboat. Do it now, Michael – and get a lift home!

But he persisted with his zigzag course; often stalling, and with his hand on the boom; ineffectively cross-set with the jib that Alice correctly held open, but against the wind.

With the swiftly-rising tide there was now a question of whether he would get under Chiswick Bridge. He had to approach it diagonally to be in the middle of the arch. But he started in the middle, stalled – and so headed straight for the inside of the bridge. It was a pure fluke of the current that at the last moment the boat spun around and he cleared the bridge by going backwards through it, with not an inch to spare.

This was all to exhausting to watch; let alone do!

Back at SGSC around 7pm it was remarkable that the race had taken over two hours – but over only half the distance to Hammersmith.

Ranking with the many quixotic experiences of sailing at Strand it had been both with and against an entirely unpredictable and totally Invisible Wind.

© Andy Ross                                                                                                 19 August 2018

Race Report, 12 August 2018

Race Report, 12 August 2018

Many sailors were away on holiday and the forecast was for a showery afternoon.  Nevertheless James (sailing his Enterprise solo) and Tim (Gull) turned out together with a new member, Jane Watkins, sailing her first race in Lev’s old Gull.

The wind was from the south but very variable in strength and gusty at times.  We set a short A-course with the downstream mark just above the grid and the upstream mark just above the Bell and Crown.

James was in the lead from the start.  He finished his first lap in under 7 minutes and he’d completed another lap before Tim arrived back at the start line.  The big surprise was that Jane, in her first race at Strand and her second time in the Gull, was a mere 15 seconds behind him – an impressive debut which included shipping a lot of water from a near capsize.  Her luck ran out at the upstream mark on the next lap and she found herself in the familiar position of drifting helplessly towards Kew Bridge.  She had to accept David Jones’ offer of help to get her back downstream out of the strong flood tide but carried on to finish another lap on her own.

James finished 7 laps before rain threatened and the race was ended, and Tim struggled in light airs at the downstream mark before completing his fifth lap 20 minutes later.

Thanks to David for looking after the fleet and to Andy for tea and biscuits afterwards.

Next week is a D-course at 1700.

Race results 22 July 2018

Race Report
Course – C, start – 10.00 am; wind – light, mostly westerly; weather – warm & sunny; OOD – Chris Greenwood; rescue boat – Steve Newell.
The Berger family made a major contribution to the race with David and Sheila taking Ho Ho Ho for a spin, Mary Berger crewing for James and a host of family members helping to haul out at the end of the race. A hot morning with little wind and a modest tide turned out six dinghies. Hanging on to prevent a false start proved challenging, but the fleet found wind to tack down to Isleworth with James and David having some close quarters contests. At the Isleworth mark James was just ahead of David and Rob Collingwood and John Bull as the second pair, Alex turned slightly later with the wind helping them against the flood tide. Tim was a little later at the buoy, at which time sadly the wind dropped completely and the tide took him down to the London Apprentice steps. The way back to Kew Bridge was a run against the incoming current which only slackened as the leading boats finished. James was first on the water with David and Sheila second, John Bull
third, Rob Collingwood fourth, followed by Alex and Tim.
Chris Greenwood

Race results 15 July 2018

Report #2 by Nick Floyer

We had a really hot afternoon for this race over a very short A course: a Zoffany start line and a downstream buoy short of the grid. The rapidly rising spring tide was a foot above the towpath by the end. An unreliable westerly wind enabled most laps to take under ten minutes, though there was a short period when it blew from the east, and later, reverting to the west, it became quite a useful breeze.
There were three Enterprises sailed single-handed, two Lasers and two “little boats”. All completed at least five laps and James managed eight. Results below.
 Thanks to Inna as OOD and to Andy and David in the safety boat.
 A longer report has been added under the results and pictures.
 Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Report: Sunday 15 July 2018: ‘Play-Off’

“Well, Garry”
“I know it’s the play-off of the play-offs. And some teams like London Corinthians
really couldn’t be bothered – preferring to watch France and Croatia on TV, rather
than compete against us. Or maybe watching Wimbledon? And eating strawberries
with cream? And enjoying a glass of cold champagne? But it’s a measure of the true
spirit of the SGSC home team that we’re absolutely determined to work out the rank
order we stand in – even right to the bitter end. Even on the hottest day of the year.
With no wind.
And so it’s a question of facing the old enemy again on home ground with its familiar
tricks of wind and tide. How do you think the team will respond?”
“Well, Garry”,
The truth is it’s an open match; it’s always a game of two halves; there and back
between two buoys. And always the chance of that there’s bit of magic mid-field, the
sudden wind shift that opens things up – and lets the opposition know there’re up
against an experienced side.
How did you think the start went?
“Well, Gary,”
The OOD, Ina, made a really good decision to referee with her very own VOR and a
stopwatch on the Zoffany line; couldn’t be better placed to see the whole action.
And they all went straight across the line all in a row – everyone was charging full-tilt
downriver.
Except Chris. Maybe it’s because he’s been in the Caribbean League for so long –
and they play with different rules out there; like always heading westward; heading
for the setting sun, determined on adding to a rich suntan. Anyway, he found he was
headed that way for far too long. And he was right at the back; heading for Brentford.
So did the rest of the fleet even get to the downriver buoy, so well placed by David
Jones before the grid – which I noticed was being steered to by a narrow boat! How
did the fleet respond to that potential pitch invasion?
“Well, Gary,”
The truth is, they’ve all seen this downstream buoy before. And they all know how
tricky it is to get far enough up to – and, crucially, beyond it, before even thinking
about a turn round it. But they all did; first James, then Rob, followed by Lev, then
Nick, Alex, and John – and eventually Chris, who had found that without the satnav
and automatic pilot turned on, the tiller actually steered the boat perfectly well.

Even so, did he perform as he usually does at this level – what do you think?
“Well, Gary,”
I have to say that on this occasion he’s out of form. For instance, coming up to the
upstream mark, all he had to do was round the buoy. It was sitting up for him; a
really nice pass. But he took his eye off the ball – and it just bounced into him.
Almost a hand-ball. We thought of holding up a yellow card. But in the nick of time he
performed a 360 degree turn round the buoy – and he was away and clear.
By about the third lap, it seemed that a regular procession had formed; first James,
then Lev, Rob, Alex, John, but with a dramatic move outflanking Nick on the
upstream tack, Chris actually overtook him and, right from the back in seventh
position, he slotted into sixth position!
So how did that look as part of the whole team formation game plan?
“Well, Gary,”
This squad has rehearsed so often their back four formations with the three
Enterprises in a forward position it was really difficult to adjust to an Enterprise at the
rear – and it lead to a very tight battle for the three around the upstream mark on
their fifth lap. An astonishing sliding tackle by Alex against John saw him earn a
corner at the buoy which by two seconds put him in front, and only just behind Rob.
Suddenly shifting to three at the back was a masterstroke. Plaudits are due for what
was one of the biggest factors in reaching this stage of the game; we’ve seen too
often before that sticking to the rigid back four doesn’t play well.
And did the action quicken up after that?
“Well, Gary.”
Absolutely! It brought more pace into the backline. The team were getting into good
crossing passes and set pieces at the buoys. And then a big gust of hot air came in
from nowhere. And suddenly there was pandemonium: real racing started to happen.
A total surprise for everyone!
Lev was completely stunned by an incoming header of wind that momentarily
knocked him over into a near-capsize. He had to think of going through his Long
Distance Race routine of repeated capsizes all over again; which he hadn’t thought
of ever doing again. But the crowd on the bankside terrace were relentless in roaring
encouragement: so he performed his amazing backwards overhead foot kick in the
air, with an all-hands grabbing of the gunwales as the boat heaved sideway – and
the boat hit the buoy. There was a Mexican wave of alarm amongst the crowd as the
boat then hurtled towards the Bell and Crown – saved at the last moment with a
dramatic 360 degree turn, and he managed to return to the buoy. It’s exactly the
magical kind of shot we expect from him.
So how was the overall finishing; did it live up to expectations?
“Well Gary,”

At this level, you have to expect real quality. And I have to say that James performed
exceptionally well. His eight laps, and his lapping of both Lev, and Rob – who, it
must be said, performed so consistently well in their second and third position
respectively throughout the entire race, finishing with seven laps each, shows that
this is a team that can really go far in future.
And I also think it’s fair to say that team SGSC has created an identity which gives
them a platform to get their game into higher positions. Their distribution across the
pitch has been good. And they have risen to the occasion. So long as they are
respectful of their mid-field discipline and they close down the other side fairly and
properly, these lads have a chance to make history.
So what of the future, how do you see the team developing?
“Well, Gary,”
It’s a case of Nominative Determinism. It’s the hypothesis that people tend to
gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names with a focus on causality.
You’ve heard of the urology researchers named Dr Splatt and Dr Weedon? And
there’s a Professor Kneebone at Imperial College. Has anyone ever met a Mr Sailor?
Well, they’ve actually got a Tim Young on the team. And although he was out on the
subs bench today and not called up in today’s game he’s clearly in the new young
generation up-and-coming squad. We’ve seen how Lev can levitate that boat! And
there’s the amazing flyer down the wing [Floyer], and the ever challenging raging
Bull that any team needs to be very beware of. Greenwood is such an experienced
and flexible and resilient fellow to bend an arrow with, while Adams genuinely
testifies his originality and authenticity and Pape adds that papal air of lofty certainty
and clarity of direction that really makes the difference – and it all clearly works well
with the wise and wily Armitage, coming out from his hermitage beside the river.
So when is the next match with Corinthian’s?
“Well, Gary”,
Sailing’s not coming home to Strand. That’s for sure. At the end of the day, many
players would have just buckled under the heat and stress. But SGSC has done the
country proud today. When they had to perform they gave their all. They did their
best. Give them their due; they kept their discipline, and their good manners. The
team held together like a tight-fitting waistcoat, not to be undone by a fickle wind and
tide. And they all know that the game is bigger than the team – and it’s a shared
belief in the spirit of the game that matters when it comes to overcoming decades of
hurt and disappointment, often against serious opposition. It’s fair to say that they
were competing today against an opposition from time to time was full of hot wind
and strong currents, but just as the Prime Minister says; what matters is not just the
taking part – but having a united determination of winning with a commitment to a
Common Rule Book.
So, Corinthian’s, you’d better look out! Serious negotiations are going to begin!
© Andy Ross

Race results 8 July 2018

Report

This points race was sailed in memory of Kurt Berger. Big Polly was sailed by Dave Berger and his mother Margaret. Other crews were: Comma – Andy R and Enoch R; Ho Ho Ho – Chris G and Mary S; Blue Angel – Lev K; Ellie – John B; Backwash – Ian N; Axolotl – Tim Y. Thanks to Chris Jones for acting as OOD while manning the safety boat.

A full report has been added under the report.

Results:

RACE REPORT: ‘C’ COURSE TO ISLEWORTH: SUNDAY 8 JULY 2018

What connects the six forward-facing 6-inch guns of HMS Belfast with SGSC and the
‘C’ course to Isleworth on a sunny and windless Sunday morning?
The answer is Kurt and Margaret Berger, 10 miles, and crucially, going backwards
under Kew Bridge.
It was Kurt who had confidently explained to Andy Ross, a newly arrived member of
the club, that quite the most delightful sailing that he and Margaret had ever enjoyed
was the ‘C’ course to Isleworth and back. Emboldened with this, your writer had
invited a prospective girl-friend at a Saturday night party to join him “on his yacht on
the Thames” for a Sunday morning sail. The following morning she actually turned
up; but rather splendidly over-dressed – and, importantly, much later than agreed.
It was a hot and windless day. The leisurely drift up to the bridge; settling in, chatting
about the night before, exchanging stories, went ever so smoothly. But approaching
Kew Bridge an apprehension that all was not well began to be felt. The arch looked
awfully low. And there was simply no way of steering the boat in the grip of the
current: Comma clattered into the roof of the bridge. The top of the mast wedged in
the brickwork. The boat slowly turned sideways with the hull braced against the flow
of the river; – and, luckily or else the mast would have snapped; over we went.
Without us, the boat released itself and we drifted out sideways under the bridge,
clinging onto the hull.
“How did you do that” asked a booming voice. It was Sir Richard Branson. He was
on a 16-person speedboat rib. He and a guy named John Evans, his Events
Director. They brought us alongside and we moored up at the pontoons at the Kew
jetty – and I began to bale the boat out; while the girlfriend immediately and very
gratefully got on board the rib.
It turned out that they were prospecting the idea John had for a limousine service
bringing 1 st Class passengers from Heathrow down to Brentford Dock – for a high
speed rib journey down to the Tower of London.
John was quite a character. He’d got himself into the SAS by climbing up the anchor
chain of HMS Belfast at night; breaking into the bridge, jumping-starting the ignition
key, opening up the Fire Control Table – and finding he had access to the optical
range finder which enabled mechanical targeting of the guns at 45 degrees with a
radius of exactly 10 miles: Kew Bridge. He got on the radio to a [no doubt extremely
surprised] telephone operator at the Ministry of Defence – and said he would launch
a barrage of 112lb shells – unless they recruited him into the SAS. Which they did.
Sufficiently dried off, and baled out – and well-lubricated with a bottle of champagne
inside us, and with two more bottles “to be stowed onboard for ballast”; together with
invitations to the limousine launch event to be held on HMS Belfast; we got back
onboard. I have to say, the girlfriend, very uncharitably, showed extreme reluctance
at the prospect of resuming the ‘C’ course, with me.

So it was, yesterday, that with Enoch on boat as crew [sadly not even remotely
pretending to be a girlfriend] we set off early – so as to get under Kew Bridge in time;
which we did, and we drew up alongside the very same Kew pontoon jetty.
Next to arrive were David Berger – and Margaret – remarkably and very
appropriately on a memorial cruise in memory of Kurt and their affection for the ‘C’
course; on a warm and balmy day for such a leisurely sail – and with an object lesson
in how to negotiate Kew Bridge.
With Chris Jones on the Safety Boat, the technique is to ensure the line-up to the
centre arch is established at least 100 metres beforehand. And for the Safety Boat to
be in reverse position with regard to the run of the current; i.e. facing the incoming
tide – with the engine idling in forward gear.
Then, with the sailing boat alongside facing forward going upstream with full sail up,
the helm can step onto the Safety Boat, heel the boat over with the side stay – and
together let the river slowly carry the pair under the bridge. Everyone can see where
they are, what they are doing; and the driver has full control. The trick is going
backward under Kew Bridge; and the right way up!
Soon we were joined by Chris Greenwood and Mary Short, then John Bull, Tim, Lev
and Ian; and we all moored somewhat insecurely alongside the houseboats; until
Chris decided everyone was impatient to go – and we set off with a start at 09.46.
With only the odd puff of wind everyone was still all together at Brentford Dock;
surprisingly all able to have a sociable chat with each other along the way. Dave,
who had been last to leave, joining us with the comment that:
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen”.
[Matthew 20:16 King James Version]
And that provoked Enoch to say that, in rummaging through the attic of his house in
St Albans he’d come across many fragments of some really old letters. Amazingly,
they appeared to be letters in reply to St. Paul’s letters in the New Testament. He
had written so many – but none of them seem to have ever been answered by
anyone. Were these they?
What did they say? One apparently read like this:
“My proper pukka mate Paul,
What a really great fast food pop-up event you staged last week. Those loaves and
fishes; what a brilliant concept! That Italian friend of yours, Carluccio, he’s really got
talent. Nothing fancy. Dead cheap ingredients. Sardines out of the sea. Coated in
olive oil and salt and pepper. Then rolled in your own Paul’s bakery breadcrumbs,
sun-dried leftovers from yesterday’s loaf baking, sprinkled with oregano, flash-fried
on the embers of the seashore bonfire; and when they’re golden and crispy – they’re
done! A sprinkle of lemon juice and you’ve got something not just to feed the 5,000
but, think big, the whole Mediterranean! If you’re expanding the franchise you need
to ditch Paul & Antonio; it’s too gay. If you’re taking it to France, go for something
that’s ready to eat; how does Prêt a Manger sound in French? Yours, Jamie.

As the Safety Boat toddled along behind the fleet there was some discussion on
whether we’d actually get to a buoy up at Isleworth, or to drop it early? Eventually it
was thought the line of the concrete wall by the church would do. The wind was
giving no-one any particular advantage. And so the whole fleet converged, almost
simultaneously, on the buoy.
It appeared that Ian was the first round – evidenced in his whoop of pleasure, with a
scramble and some bumping as everyone else jostled about it.
Except Tim. It was as if his boat had a bloodhounds’ instinct for its normal
destination of the bar at the London Apprentice – and it headed straight on up there
for a pint, despite Tim’s urgent tiller-waggling to tell it that was totally wrong.
Heading into the North bank and the easier current, everyone got stuck on the still-
incoming tide with a minimal wind. Easing out to gain some water, only to be swept
back – then easing out again; only for the sequence to be repeated.
Chris in the lead, and then Dave, tried out the opposite bank. But the effort to get
there produced no obvious difference in distance gained.
Ian found his lead was completely lost as he got caught in an eddy by the bank and
then found himself enshrouded in long lines of willow tree branches. His frustration
grew noticeably in strength and temper even to the point where it was thought he
might very volubly suddenly employ the crudely horrible scatological language of the
ex-Foreign Secretary; much like his reputation now is in: “polishing a tree”. But no.
It so happens that a photograph was taken of this moment. A picture was taken by
someone on the Kew riverbank of the line of three boats against the Syon Park
woodland; John Bull’s white sail, Andy and Enoch’s blue sail, Ian’s translucent sail –
which was the picture shown on BBC 1 throughout the evening on the day’s weather
forecast to illustrate the calm and peaceful river side setting of the hottest day of the
year. Little did the picture-taker – or, of course, the millions watching, actually know!
Rather like a long line of dough being rolled out into a baguette, and separated into
batons to be baked in the oven, so the fleet gradually dispersed as the tide eased
and the wind picked up.
And another fragment of the letters to St Paul came to mind:
“Dear Paul,
Good to hear about your plan to go to Rome. Now then, regarding that fiasco in the
temple last month when your friend Jesus tipped over all the money-changers’ tables
in the crypt, which I had to sort out. It caused all sorts of trouble; runs on the
currencies with them spilling everywhere. Thing is; these guys are making a fortune
on the margins. What we need is a simpler system; something I’m calling a common
market currency. Do away with all this ridiculous waste of precious metal. We need
a standard for everyone to make money on. The Romans won’t like it. They always
want to monopolise everything. And the Greeks won’t even have a bath unless they
can get the drugs and the illegal migrant money without paying any tax. What we

need is your clever idea of a temple crypt currency: a crypto-currency for short.
Look, I’m sending you a bag-load of all these old currency coins I swept up from the
floor on the next ship to Rome. I want to buy into your faith idea. I want you to buy a
really big building in Rome; by all means call it a church if you wish [I think cathedral
sounds better] – and stick your name above the door. On the dome is even better
Money is all about faith. I met this Anglo fellow the other day; said he was from the
City of London [never heard of it] – and, of course, he didn’t speak any Arabic. But
what he did say was “My word is my bond”. I like that! I think that’s good enough to
trade with him; you could even set up a ‘bond market’ – with good faith on all sides,
of course. If you find the right building I think we can go global with this: “faith in
banking idea”; might even call it Yes-we-can / Bankican / Vatican? I’ll make you
Managing Director. How does that work for you? Let me know what you think when
you get to Rome. Do please look after my money and send me regular accounts.
Yours Jacob
As the fleet neared the finishing line there still wasn’t much in it between everyone.
Chris acting as both OOD and Safety Boat operator blew the whistle as they crossed
the line and came round to moor in together alongside the Kew pontoon barges.
One by one, the same reverse guidance technique of pairing a forward-facing sailing
boat with an up-stream facing Safety Boat enabled the passage under the bridge,
drifting very slowly with a high tide still flowing quickly, to be completed safely.
Comma dropped her sails completely, which were scarcely needed anyway in the
faint wind – and glided under this potentially traumatic bridge, and paddled home.
Meanwhile Enoch recalled another fragment found amongst the long-lost replies to
St Paul; though it probably will need Mary Short, just returned from a month-long
Ramadan experience in Jordan, to provide the exactly right Arabic translation. But it
seemed to read something like this:
“Hi there Paul,
Great to see you at the bunga-bunga boat party last weekend. Wasn’t it amazing!
Those girls from Ephesus are absolute stunners aren’t they? No wonder you were so
shocked: seeing something you shouldn’t have! That’s my kind of party! And I really
liked your expression: “God blind me!” I’m going to use it to publicize the next event.
I’ll add some pretty graphic descriptions on page three to go with the headline: “Cor
blimey!” Really hope you can come. I’m hoping a new guy I’ve heard of called
Donald will show up too; sounds like he’s a bit of a party animal too, just like you! It’s
an open-shorts invitation. No need for another long letter. Just drop me a note if
you’re coming to say: “Me Too!”
Cheers Silvio
And so the boats were safely tucked up tight in their beds, though without tea, or
champagne, after a memorable – and a memorial – ‘C’ course.
© Andy Ross

 

Race results 24 June 2018

Race Report

This was a sunny Sunday morning race, with a good turnout of eight boats. The light, fickle and fading wind was just sufficient, most of the time, to enable headway against the flood tide – it was three days before full moon and top of springs, and with no recent rainwater coming down the river. This report is based on an interpretation of Inna’s immaculate race sheet.

James (Ent) raced ahead in his usual style. Apart from Tim (Gull), who retired after three laps, and Andy (Ent) who completed five, it was close race over the first six laps for the other five boats. At that point, James was close behind finishing his eighth lap, and the whistle was blown to finish the race, leaving the others to complete their seventh. This took Ian (Vibe) and David (Solo) nearly quarter of an hour, Rob (Laser) rather longer, and John (Laser) and Alex (14ft) in a dead heat longer still.

Many thanks to Lev and Inna, who between them organised the race, manned the safety boat, and recorded the results.

Nick Floyer, the man who was not there

Some correction to the report of the man who was not there:

David was in the safety boat. (Thank you!)
David Berger was racing and testing Tim’s solo.
Andy was the first to get to first buoy but lost to James at the second down the river one.
Lev actually was crewing for James.
Most boat were got stuck close to OOD trying to sail down the river.
The rumour says Andy did not wear life jacket. 🙂

Race Results

Race Results, 13 May 2018

Report from the water, by Alex:

5 boats started a C course with a light breeze from the west. Lev, solo in the Enterprise for the second time, led from the start, but John caught him soon after Brentford Marina. Alex and Lev then proceeded up to Isleworth together. Both misjudged the mark somewhat, allowing Ian to catch up and start the (long) journey back. Tim followed round the mark soon after. John moved to the Surrey bank around Syon House, which proved slower and Ian and Alex overtook, inching along the Middlesex bank, but mostly perfectly balanced against the incoming tide and a little warm in the sun. Eventually they returned to Brentford, where the winds improved and the tide slackened. Sticking to the Surrey bank now, the front three made a close finish, Alex and Ian over the line less than a second apart. Conditions had improved upstream and Lev and Tim had both crossed the line just 6 minutes later. Many thanks to David and David in the safety boat, and OOD Tim with assistance from Andy.

 

Report from the finish line by Andy:

On a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll into Kew Gardens for lunch and to see the spectacularly reconstructed Temperate House [fully £41m-worth] Andy came across Tim, anxiously scanning the upstream horizon searching for sight of the returning boats. Already an hour and a half had elapsed – and Tim was on tenterhooks as he was due to be in High Wycombe for the spring corn grinding ceremony in the Penn Watermill that afternoon. And as time and tide wait for no man – and the last of the miller’s last year’s corn harvest rations were going to be distributed to the starving peasantry, hungry for their annual loaf of bread on a first-come-first-served basis, something had to be done.

A ransom was required and Tim emptied his pockets, but found only a whistle.

Ah well; that and a promise to save a slice of genuine artisan-produced, water-mill stone-ground, home-baked granary loaf – or stand-in as OOD on a later date, and he was free to go.

Three-quarters of an hour passed by, with only the occasional rowing eight going up river when suddenly round the bend appeared a great flotilla.

“Gloriana” was coming down the river! Heralded by a PLA motorboat. And a crowd of boats behind her! What was this about? And where were our boats?

As she drew level it was clear there were properly-dressed dignitaries on board. Gentlemen in frock coats and tricorn hats, and ladies in floral frocks and with amply-wide hats; all being heaved along by 16 red-coated, red-faced oarsmen. “Where have you come from?” met with no reply. “Where are you going?”, similarly silent. The two stern-faced coxswains were much more concerned to lower the Union Jack and City of London flag and drop the two masts before reaching Kew Bridge.

But the followers were more communicative. They had come from Hampton Court and were heading for Tower Bridge. And what a lot of them! (Tallow Chandlers, Master Glaziers, Ahoy, God the Only Founder, Catamoran, Barbers’ Cutter, Richmond BC, Thames River Soc., etc. etc.) The gentlemen of the City and Guilds Livery boats were especially pleased to wave back; their gold chains of office glinting in the sunshine; feather hats pluming in the breeze; what rich pageantry was on the river for the towpath peasants to behold! Yet all was apparently a rehearsal in honour of yet greater ceremonial pageantry to come; the royal wedding in Windsor in a week’s time. As Morecombe and Wise (or was it Cleese, Barker and Corbett – ed.) so wittily said:

“I look down on him; and he looks up to me; and I look up to him [and her]; and they [both] look down on us”.

This exchange of pleasantries had a sudden an unexpected effect.  Sequentially, pre-occupied and distracted by the rude questions from the commoner on the riverbank, and keen to reply politely; boat after boat collided with the red can rowing boy – despite each of the  downstream boats ahead of them calling back to warn them! Had they similarly collided with, and sunk, the SGSC fleet somewhere upstream?

It took another half-hour for SGSC to turn up. With a light westerly wind and a slow-turning tide they had obviously had a gruelling time of it in the upper reaches; and obviously not with the help of a glint of gold or with any splendid tunics being worn. However, young David Kolobov, accompanying David Jones in the Safety Boat, had in his pocket his special find on the foreshore that morning: a metal button badge with an inscription on it that appeared to read: ‘London and South Western Railway Company’ and on the reverse ‘Newcastle..?’ A find that the metal detectorists, also on the foreshore, had missed! We wait to hear what it reveals of its history when cleaned up and researched into.  Now then, if SGSC sailors were properly dressed – and duly buttoned-up with official ceremonial tunics, and ostrich-plumed tricorn hats, they might have made a better show of it on the river; and made a better time.  All boats crossed the line within four minutes of each other; some 2 hours and 40 minutes after the start.

Andy Ross,  Acting OOD

Sunday 13 May 2018

Racing Results 6 May 2018

Race report, 6 May 2018

At last – a perfect spring evening for a relaxing race.  We were missing an OD, but Inna Kolobov gallantly volunteered to run the race, for the first time, while Lev Kolobov tried out an Enterprise for the first time.  Not only that but he sailed it solo.

There wasn’t much wind – a gentle F2 from the SE – but enough to make a race of it for the 7 boats that launched.  The consensus was to set a short course with the start at Zoffany House. Chris Jones in the safety boat missed the start searching for the key to the safety boat so the sailors decided to improvise.  After the starting signal from Inna we passed the word around to turn in line with the first post on the mooring grid for the downstream mark and opposite a grey inflatable outside the Bell and Crown for the upstream mark.  All went well, with John Bull taking the lead, beating down to the first mark, and running up to the upstream mark with a brief detour to check with the Browns in their Ent on precisely which mark to turn on.  It didn’t hold him back much and he crossed the start line about 30 seconds ahead of the Browns.  Ian Nethersell was about the same distance behind in third place with Nick about a minute behind him.

Fortunately, by the time that Lev in his Ent completed his first lap at the back of the fleet, Chris (aided by David Kolobov) had managed to release the safety boat and had laid a proper downstream mark about half way down the mooring grid.  And he laid an upstream mark in ample time for John to come around on his second lap.  Ian was second on the second lap still about 30 seconds behind John but there was plenty of position-swapping at the downstream end of the course.  By the third lap Ian was in the lead ahead of John with Lev just over a minute behind and after much close-quarters tacking by the end of the fourth lap Ian and john crossed the finishing line with only two seconds between them.  Third and fourth position were fought over by the Browns and Alex Pape who finished 4 seconds apart.  Lev was a few seconds behind, obviously getting the feel of the boat, followed by Andy and Enoch and finally Nick.  All meticulously recorded by Inna, to whom many thanks.

Next week it’s a C-course at 12:30.

Race results 29 April 2018

Race report, 29 April 2018

B course,  13 50 start. OD Rob Collingwood, Rescue Boat James Armitage

Another ridiculously cold April day-  Overcast and just about remaining dry. Hats and gloves weather at a 7 degrees which felt cooler in the good force 3 North westerly breeze. This made it a dead run down towards Chiswick bridge on the B course, with a brisk tack coming back, the apparent wind strength sharpened by a quite strong opposing tide.

Only two contestants: Tim and Lev;  the battle of the Gulls.

On the first lap, Tim rounded the Chiswick Staithe buoy first, but Lev pulled ahead on the tack back- his tactic of frequent short tacking to stay in the strongest wind and tide paying off against Tim’s fewer but longer tacks into the easier conditions at the bank.

Both boats had a blustery sail back and Lev completed his first lap in 18 minutes against Tim’s 22. The Bulls Head buoy was set quite close in under the lee of the pub giving both boats the opportunity to grind to a halt in true Strand style even with this very adequate wind.

Then, just after completing his first lap with a small lead, Lev’s Gull got rolling in mid-river opposite the pier, and that was the end of his race. While Tim ploughed steadily on to complete a second lap in about another 19 minutes, Lev struggled with the slippery and buoyant hull of his boat which allowed him to right it about 4 times but each time re-capsized in protest at his efforts to climb back on board. Eventually Lev outwitted the uncooperative boat by climbing in over the stern . However as he was almost under the railway bridge by then, the rescue boat manned by James and David Kolobov, pulled him away from this hazard and Lev decided he should not continue, though whether a sideways tow towards the bank really constituted assistance might have been a fine point .

This left Tim the sole contestant and undisputed winner after making no mistakes in a textbook sail under testing conditions.

RC

Race results 22 April 2018

Race Report 22 April 2018

Perhaps one of the participants will volunteer a proper report, but to fill in the space for the time being, here is a race-sheet-eye-view.

Four boats started on a promising late spring afternoon with a variable W,NW breeze: Rob Collingwood solo in his Enterprise, Andy and Enoch in  Andy’s Ent, Tim Young (Gull) and Nick Floyer (Lightning).  Rob zoomed around his first lap in 6 ½ minutes and kept up that pace, and the lead, throughout.  Nick was close on his transom on lap 1 but something nasty happened on his second lap that left him way behind.  Andy maintained second position after the first lap but couldn’t prevent Rob lapping him before the finish.  Tim kept up a steady pace of 8-minute laps throughout and finished his seven laps just after Rob finished on nine.  Andy completed eight laps and Tim and Nick both completed seven.

Tim won the Handicap points and Rob the Polly points.  The race was supervised by Alex with Sam and Dave on the safety boat.  Next week it’s a B-course at 15:50.