SGSC Race Results on Sunday 1 October 2017
Race Report by Steve Newell OOD
On a cool autumn day with only a light NW breeze, seven dinghies optimistically came to the start line outside no 1 Strand-on-the-Green and set off towards Chiswick Bridge. The rescue boat with David Jones in command placed a buoy half way down Hartington Road on the Middlesex bank in the hope that a three lap race would be possible. Unbelievably, a PLA patrol boat requested that the buoy should be moved mid race as other “shipping” was being inconvenienced but David assured the PLA that such an action would be unfair at such a late stage. One rowing eight trying to return to the London University boat house attempted to break up our fleet with a manoeuvre reminiscent of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of the Nile but our sailors kept defiantly focused on reaching buoy once more. The final obstacle observed, after about half an hour, was a gaggle of kayakers accompanied by a Canadian canoe propelled with a single paddle which seemed to be in charge. They almost drove John Bull (laser), who by this stage had opened up a useful lead onto the buoy placed opposite 4/5 Strand-on-the-Green but any embarrassment was skilfully avoided – or maybe the 270 degree turn executed was simply to avoid an involuntary jibe. I realised that our leading boat was not flying a racing flag so a letter of complaint to the canoe club is probably not appropriate although I might have a word nevertheless.
As the minutes ticked by the sun appeared to shine a little stronger, the breeze freshened a little to provide a bit of exhilaration and our sailors were still racing keenly. On the river (before the application of the handicapping factors) the laser’s lead was cut although never seriously threatened but the fortunes of the commodore in his ‘shanghai’ rigged craft improved dramatically. He “gently touched” the second mark after being caught in a very congested melee and to set a good example performed a second rounding which left him in last place. He then purposefully gave chase and as conditions improved over the next few minutes fought his way through the fleet to be second over the finish line at the end of the third and final lap.
It was remarkable that after an hour of racing the whole fleet crossed the finish line in a span of just seven minutes. I was assisted with the time keeping by Horatio. When racing is close it helps enormously to have another pair of eyes on the action.
No race on that date because of TideFest 2017.
SGSC Race Results on 3 September 2017
A dry but overcast day with a scheduled “B” course with a start time of 12 noon programmed.
The Met forecast for the race period was SSE 7mph gusting 16mph. OOD discussed with the fleet the possibility of changing to an “A” course as the wind direction SSE and flood tide would be hard to beat against. However, after consideration it was decided that the wind was sufficiently strong enough to tackle the “B” course.
Two buoys were skilfully laid by Chris Jones in the safety boat, the buoy closest to the railway bridge being laid down stream to avoid dinghies being swept onto the bridge.
Surprisingly six dinghies were prepared to endure the gusts and the fickle conditions. All dinghies made good starts and all made it around the pier without any mishaps.
Tacking, as was expected, was difficult along the rowing club bank with most dinghies tacking out into the mid-stream tide to take advantage of the stronger wind conditions. The wind direction with gusts and with a flood tide was at times demanding but all managed to stay upright. Chris stayed close to the action in the safety boat.
Rob Adams in his Laser soon raced away from the fleet. Rob Collingwood with crew Lucy followed in his Enterprise closely followed by Nick, Ian, Lev and Alex.
It was a “Laser day” and Rob tacked over to the Surrey bank and with the help of a wind shift made even more ground over the fleet. He eventually tacked back to the Middlesex bank and shortly rounded the downstream buoy. On rounding the buoy he was away, on a run with the flood tide.
At this point the sky turned black and looked threatening but the wind strength dropped. The fleet struggled to reach and round the buoy. Eventually, Rob Collingwood and Nick rounded the buoy and were now on the run and breaking away from Ian, Lev and Alex.
Ian, lev and Alex persisted with their approach to the buoy and although the wind seemed to drop further they rounded the buoy.
Meanwhile, Rob in his Laser had completed the first lap in 24.39 with Rob Collingwood (Enterprise) and Nick (Lightning) 31.28 and 32.50 respectively.
Ian (Vibe) completed his first lap in 41.02 and Lev(Gull) 50.20 and Alex (GP14) 52.52.
The race continued in a similar pattern for the second lap with Rob Adams finishing at 50.37, Rob Collingwood 59.59 closely followed by Nick 63.50. Ian finished ahead of Lev 78.25 and 94.40 respectively. Alex sensibly decided one lap was enough at 52.52.
SGSC Race Results on Sunday 27 August 2017
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SGSC Race Results – Sunday 16th July 2017
SGSC Race Results – Sunday 9 July 2017
Race Report by Ian Nethersell OOD
A warm and sunny day greeted 5 entrants for what initially promised to be a good B course with a South Westerly blowing on the nose at a good force 2-3.
As is often the way with our fickle race ground once the start whistle blew the wind decided to do some sun bathing and early promise turned to teasing as the wind became a breeze which sniggered at the frustrations of our crews.
Tim Young in Axolotl made an excellent start even challenging James to the protruding jetty which became for some the impassable object of frustration, but first past was James with Terry paying an impromptu but welcome visit from the West Country as his crew. Next was John Bull in his laser who managed to chase down Tim Y before all 3 made it beyond the Jetty.
Alex in Phoenix struggled to make way against the flood tide, not helped by a broken tiller extension just prior to the start whistle, whilst endeavouring to give valuable instruction and experience to his novice crew, Catherine, who is also hoping to challenge for the Ladies Plate in August, (could it be we have a race after so long? Let’s hope so and we wish her luck and fun in her sailing adventures at Strand)
Tim Wellburn & his crew Simon Young in his still un-named enterprise swapped places with Alex & Catherine as they made way on a close reach only to perform perfect dosey-does which saw them drift backwards on the tide as they tacked and moved out in the stream. Never the shrinking violet or wanting to miss a party, Tim Young managed to find himself too far out and drifted back to join the dancers and then continued under the railway bridge. Under slightly different conditions from last time Tim managed to land against the Middlesex bank just below the pub to retire himself from the race.
Alex and the remaining Tim continued their flirtation with the jetty only to have their advances rebuffed as James with goose winged sails rounded the upstream mark and took the eddy along bank before ferry gliding out to pass the jetty for a second time. 10 minutes later John pulled the same move, without the goosewinging to attack his second lap which proved to be a tour-de-force and a study in patience and stoicism. This stoicism and strength of character was shared by the lower placed crews who never gave up efforts although without the much deserved luck.
The race was finished as James crossed the start/finish line after 2 laps in 49:04 and John Bull finishing his second after 1:18:18.
Alex and Catherine eventually conceded as the tide turned and even though receiving some personal instruction from James, now solo in Porpoise, Tim gave in too after not managing to pass the jetty again.
All in all a beautiful but frustrating day which did see the wind filling in at times but in hindsight may have been better as a short A but one can only make a decision in the moment and ever in the moment was the watchful safety boat crew of Michael and Dave who cleared the course before collecting Axolotl and retiring to the arch for tea and jaffa cakes.
SGSC Race Results – Sunday 25 June 2017
Andy Ross [OOD] Race Report: 15.00 Sunday 23 July 2017: War Stories
When King Henry VII decided that the air quality of London was so foul [as today] and that royal country residences outside the capital were preferable, the need for upgrading palaces locally was met in Kew, West Sheen [Richmond], and at Hampton Court and Windsor – so establishing a conceit of royalty visiting the countryside as a classical “Arcadia” – the wilderness home of Pan the god of the forest and nature – in a landscape of grand riverside houses and gardens that both dignified and added a political and social importance to the river and its banks and gave the whole of the rural Thames valley a greater significance than just the mundane trading usage of the Thames.
The aristocracy quickly followed suite and Chiswick House and Grounds was created beside the river featuring a lake and a clean water cascade derived from Spring Grove, [so Greek!] with wilderness areas and woodland glades and with agricultural fields for food and ornamental gardens for recreation and kitchen gardens for cuisine, perfecting the idealized “sub-urbes” suburban style of the English Garden landscape, designed to interconnect the city with the countryside – and thereby setting a pattern for a domestic suburban house and garden that was then copied throughout Chiswick, and worldwide.
Without a river frontage of its own, Gunnersbury House and Park exploited a penthouse approach based on the hill line above Chiswick, thereby both seeing – and being seen – with wide horizon views out to Windsor and across to the Surrey Hills – ironically now increasingly obscured with the giant tower blocks of the Golden Mile, and their penthouses. Now, only Richmond Hill and Park with its sightlines to Windsor one way and to the City of London the other still exists as having legally-protected long views of London and Thames valley. As the suburbs spread and the open agricultural land was in-filled with houses, and less and less of the river and its landscape could be seen, or even accessed, so the demand evolved for clubs for rowing and boating and sailing, essentially for recreation and pleasure; the sports of the King brought to the people.
To try to conserve the original idea of the landscape scale and sense of place of west London, and the social significance of the river, the Thames Landscape Strategy [TLS] was developed by two landscape architects in 1994 with a 100-year plan to define and emphasise the value to society of the entire Thames river system. To photograph some current day aspects of a peaceful river scene for the TLS a former war-photographer, Paul Stewart and his wife Vivien, asked SGSC if they could watch a typical sailing race and record it for history and so, with David Jones as their driver, Tim offered them places on the Safety Boat.
A warm and gusty Westerly wind was quite inviting. James in his Enterprise [with Lev’s son David onboard] was joined by Lev and Tim [both in Gulls]. A long triangular ‘A’ course was set by Andy Ross [OOD] using the red rowing buoy and a brisk start ensured a first round lap of 10 minutes by James and 13 and 14 by Lev and Tim. Our photographic guests were relaxing in comfort, clicking away at their leisure.
It was then that the first in-coming wind bomb exploded. Having spotted the famous war photographer, and seizing the opportunity to strike with shock and awe, and fame in history, the wind went on the war path. SGSC was in its sights.
Sudden gusts turned a gentle leisurely pleasure into white-knuckled panic. A dancing set of quicksteps upstream on the windward tack – then crossing after the trots to the rowing buoy [becalmed for moments in the Surrey bank doldrums while slithering dangerously quickly on the tide up to the buoy] was followed by a rapid acceleration on a long reach to the upstream buoy; rounding it in a flash and rollicking and rolling downwind to the line. The second lap time of 7 minutes then shortened to 6 on the third. The intelligence from the eye-spies on the weather was that enemy big battalions were now maneuvering – and seriously threatening that it wasn’t going to end well.
As machine-gun bullets of wind began strafing long lines across the river, ripping off the tops of the incoming flood water, Lev was the first to fall victim of a sniper; capsizing at the downstream buoy on his third lap. Amazingly, he recovered, uninjured, climbed back in, baled out – and resumed racing! By then everyone was desperately spilling relentlessly rolling barrages of incoming mortar shell bursts of wind out of their sails to try and stay relatively upright. It was asymmetric guerilla warfare. Dramatic rocking around the river indicated a scattering and fleeing fleet. Suddenly enforced deviations off-track paradoxically meant that as the wind speed increased, so also did the lap times.
Though as secure and confident as a cavalry warhorse, charging at the enemy in full pomp and splendor, plumes waving aloft and galloping along the parapets, his finely-polished hull glinting in the spray, it was a long distance Big Bertha of a wind bomb that finally did for Tim in Axolotl, catching him at the top mark just as he was about to gybe. The wind had seen his intention far ahead and the big gun had roared – aimed directly for him. Irresistibly, and caught on a time-lapse, slow motion camera, he toppled over. It was a Frank Cappa photography moment.
As James rounded the same upstream buoy he performed not a balletic pirouette of a gybe but more of a double granny knot of turns of twisting sheets and flailing sails entailing desperate leaning-out – while young David was nonchalantly totally unperturbed in the belly of the boat, waving happily back at spectators; who were aghast at the peril he was apparently in.
As James crossed the line on his sixth lap he begged for the race to be finished early; without even a last lap flag. Acting like the Red Cross coming to the rescue, flying a white flag, the OOD did so. And rather than send Lev round another lap, as he was just 40 seconds behind James, but still two laps behind him, the OOD finished him too for Pity’s sake and to end hostilities.
Meanwhile, by then swept far upstream on the strong flood tide, Tim had managed to right his boat – but only to find himself confronted by the lowest arch of Kew Bridge. He had no option but to capsize again to avoid crashing his mast into it. By then the safety boat was beside him – but found it utterly impossible to stem the tide. Axolotl went under the bridge, dragging its mast on the riverbed – until ramming into and jamming the upturned hull underneath the steel pontoon. Tim, unable to hold onto the slippery hull was swept under the pontoon, fortunately uninjured, and eventually managed to scramble out and get ashore some five houseboats further down.
Having returned the guest photographers to the Club and with Andy and Lev now onboard the safety boat with David, they hurried back to rescue Tim. With the still-rising tide Axolotl was jammed hard under the pontoon, risking cracking its hull; until eventually the tide began to slacken and inch-by-inch the mast eased up – and the boat was maneuvered to the bankside beside the bridge walkway.
Baling commenced and Tim soon confidently announced: “Right, we’re OK now!” And he took a step forward. But he had no idea the vertical edge of the concrete bank was so close. Being quite unable [contrary to pre-conceptions] that he could walk on water, with a mighty explosion he plunged in like a depth charge – totally drenching Andy standing on the bow of the safety boat.
Spluttering to the surface and bobbing amidst a multitude of plastic bottles that were assembling in a small convoy, waiting to join the 10,000 tonnes of plastic the river Thames sends every year on a journey to eternity in the Pacific Ocean, and rather than go with them, he hauled himself ashore again. His previously immaculate salmon-pink trousers were now crimson-red and baggy-wrinkled with embarrassment, which drew applause and much laughter from spectators on the bridge above who took photo-journalistic pictures – possibly wondering if they had spotted a famous local celebrity in trouble with a wardrobe malfunction, and whether they had got the i-phone aspect-ratio right to sell a war-photo scoop.
Axolotl, having been de-masted and turned round alongside the safety boat, was towed under Kew Bridge and rather than collect Tim from the Indian Queen [Pocahontas] Slipway he re-embarked from Pier House Garden close by the Steam Packet [Café Rouge] Steps. On-board, the losses were assessed. The SGSC boathook pole had been snapped in two in attempting to stave off the collision with the pontoon.. “But at least I’ve still got my own favourite little boathook”, said Tim – as he dropped it into the river, – and just managed to catch it. But he’d lost a paddle, a bucket, a burgee, a rope – and, most upsetting, his SGSC sweater – and a certain amount of dignity.
In the arch, journalistic stories from exotic Foreign Fronts in Bosnia, Rwanda, Vietnam and the Middle East could in future be accompanied by a Home Front story of the day that a royal Arcadian gentle leisure river trip turned into a violent waterborne battle that pitted boatmen [and a shipsboy] against the elements; turning the tranquil Thames into a stormy and splattered battleground.
Frank Brazell with his crew Brian Ganly were also on the water for the first time, but very wisely decided to venture no further out than the side of Oliver’s Island and so lived to sail unperturbed another day.
The day ended with everyone thankfully safe and well and [relatively] happy; and were well comforted in the best of English traditions with big slices of home-made blackberry and apple crumble cake, washed down with a huge pot of China and Darjeeling Fairtrade Loose Leaf Fine Tea. It was probably just as King Henry VII himself would have wanted after enjoying the exceptionally bracing fresh air of a day out beside, and on – and actually in – the river Thames “Arcadia”.
Note by the Deputy Master of the Sums: The new scoring system was applied to this race, so that “Porpoise” gained just one point towards the Big Boats class cup, being the only boat to start, and “Pacman” just two points, being the winner out of the two Little Boats to start. – Nick