The annual long distance race is sailed on an ebb tide to Battersea Railway Bridge, turning there at low tide, and returning on the flood. This means that competitors, who may set off whenever they like, have to estimate when low tide will be and how long they will take to get there. The forecast was for a light easterly wind, though the early morning rain was a surprise to all, and so with a slow windward passage in prospect, it paid to go reasonably early. After the tide turned, there would be no hope of reaching Battersea at all. In the event, the wind was good where there was wind, but some reaches are sheltered by trees, and at Battersea tall buildings meant that there was hardly wind at all. The actual wind direction was very variable, but tended to veer towards southerly during the race.
Lev (Enterprise) played safe and set off first; John (Otter), sailing the slowest boat on handicap, went next; Ian (Vibe) started after another interval, and Nick (Lightning) followed. Lev arrived at Battersea much too early: he was swept past the bridge by the still ebbing tide and took some time to return and work his way along the shore towards home. Ian and John were also early but only by ten minutes or so. Nick took the biggest risk and was only just in time for the turn of the tide. Then what had looked to be an easy run home on the flood tide was anything but, with many changes of wind strength and direction and sporadic doldrums.
On the final reaches, the other three boats started to catch up with Lev. Nick finally overtook him and finished half a second ahead; Ian, who had been practising his spinnaker drill with mixed success, was close behind, and John followed after 15 minutes. So Nick, starting last and finishing first, took the prize. The real hero, however, was Dave in the safety boat, who on his own and for five hours kept a close eye on us all.
Race Report: What happens in Vegas. 26 May 2019
90% of what happens on the B Course is an unseen mystery to the OOD.
All that is known is who starts, and who doesn’t, and who finishes; and in what order and when.
Vision is obscured by the jetty and the race mainly proceeds behind the scenes where ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’, – for those who go there.
In an overcast and blustery slightly drizzly westerly wind which threatened big gusts, Tim decided that his preference was to encourage others to start – while he would seek the comforts of a leisurely Sunday back in Brentford; the Vegas of west London.
But his help and support encouraged Jane onto the water in her Gull. And she was then joined by Chris and Rob in the Enterprise, followed by Sam and Matthew in the Wayfarer, while Enoch and Lev and David rigged up and headed out in the Safety Boat.
But Chris and Rob never arrived at the start. Apparently springing an unstoppable leak from an unknown source they never got under the railway bridge – and with a sudden flurry of dropping sails and much tiller-waggling made it back to foreshore safety, and retired.
Meanwhile, perfectly timing a long slow drift with the wind behind her and against the incoming tide and in a straight line in the middle of the river, Jane eased across the start line ahead of Sam and Matthew, who were struggling with a determined set of cross-river tacks that only held them back.
But size counts when it comes to sails and on the final hooter Sam sped off with a following wind to the head of the jetty while Jane was bounced and jolted around mid-river, wallowing in the wake of a pair of upriver steamers.
Then they were gone.
Incoming jets like gigantic predatory aerial reptiles streamed behind them long trails of pencil-thin lines of drizzle. Swifts plunged, swooped and darted for insects in the wind; though with far fewer of them around now than ever. Their numbers are dropping catastrophically as all insects are declining drastically in number. Remember when car journeys had swathes of insects smeared on the glass and glued to windscreen wipers? All now gone.
The Bank Holiday weekend coincided with Thames 21 River Week.
Seeking the ‘Rewilding of London’s Rivers’ their idea is to open up the concreted-over tributaries of the Thames in urban London. Amazingly, there are over 430 miles of these streams hidden under London.
We have our own one in the Sailing Club; the outfall under the side gate originates in a spring at the top of Whitehall Gardens. It flows underneath the back gardens of the roads alongside the railway line: Deans Close, Magnolia Road. Following the course of the original Dead Donkey Lane it was the source of the astonishing wealth of Chiswick.
Clean clear fresh water flowing over rich soil enabled the stunning productivity of the horticultural and market gardens of Chiswick – and the wealth of the Parish of Chiswick as a “Peculiar Parish” of the Bishop of London, which paid for the running of St Paul’s cathedral for 600 years – before the Great Fire, and Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt it.
Wouldn’t these current residents rather like a fresh open stream running across and through their back gardens? Imagine the estate agent’s description of the amenity of biodiversity and wildlife and nature? It’s maybe more difficult for SGSC to open this up on site; how to get our boats across it? But we could put a submersible run-of-stream hydropower engine in it – and generate renewable electricity for the arch and battery-power an electric motor for the safety boat?
Ah! Jane has appeared! And, stunningly, she’s in the lead!
Midstream, and only occasionally tacking while being carried along on the incoming tide; she was comfortably ahead of Sam whose heavy boat needed long slow tacks from bank to bank – which repeatedly left him stalled in the eddies.
Jane was first round the upstream buoy; and first across the line after some 30 minutes of sailing; followed by Sam 4 minutes later.
Then they were gone again.
Nothing much to see on the river except the dull foreshore was brightened up with speckled dots of plastic: a colourful mosaic of bottle tops, lids, spoons, wrappers, straws, labels and bits of bag. A species list of occupants of this habitat far outnumbers the native leaves, twigs and branches.
Suddenly blue sky opened up. A rainbow arced across the deep grey clouds of drizzle. The tops of the trees on the south bank shone with a brilliant greenness. The flowering yellow irises on the river bank glowed with colour, as though all voting for Lib Dem.
And here they were again!
But the roulette wheel of the sailing game had spun round the fortunes of the gambling sailors. Somewhere, somehow; Sam had done it.
Somewhere over the rainbow
And the dreams that you dare to
Oh why, oh why can’t I?
But he hadn’t just dreamed the dream. Sam was convincingly in the lead. And with a confident gybe around the mark he was up to the line to finish his second lap after just under an hour of sailing.
Jane meanwhile got stalled at the buoy, and then drifted into the shallows. Inch-by-inch she crept up to the finish line –willed on by the safety boat keen to pull up and go home.
Determined to maintain a strictly poker-faced and dead-straight tiller, she was 4 minutes behind Sam at the finish; nonetheless on handicap points, very likely the winner – and so scooping the pool of punters in sailing to Vegas.
26 May 2019
The winter is over and we are back !
The Strand on the Green Club Annual General Meeting took place at The City Barge on 19th of February 2019.
Minutes can be downloaded here:
Good luck in the new season.
Two major events in the offing:
The Ladies Plate race on Saturday 25th August. It’s and A-course with a start at 1340. Any qualifying member who wants to sail but doesn’t have a boat can contact James, who is a willing and expert crew.
The Summer Party is on the same day at 7 pm. in James and Marian’s garden at 2 Strand on the Green. The entrance fee is £12.50 but larger and rounder sums are accepted. All very welcome.
Please email Marian so we can prepare enough food.
See you there
The Master of Sums is back for a while and here are the results of the last few races.
Many thanks to Nick Floyer for doing the sums in my absence.
There was no race on 29 July: the OOD (Mary), safety boat driver (Chris), Tim Y, Tim W, Henry, Alex and Rob C all turned up, sucked their teeth, shook their heads and decided that top of F4 gusting F7 was too much for fun.
Let’s hope for better weather on 5 August.