The drizzle that threatened the overcast day stopped well before the 12:20 start. Several bodies were around in good time to make ready the safety boat but the amount of rainwater in the river meant that the foreshore was awash before most of the nine dinghies could launch in dry feet, and the exceptional number attempting to launch meant a lot of shuffling of boats and trolleys in the yard. The wind was a light SE, blowing with the weakened flood tide that was pushing against the flow coming down river. But all boats made it to the Bell and Crown on time.
James Armitage with Kiren Biekark in Zephyr (Enterprise) made good progress in the beat downstream to a mark just off the slip-dock and ran back easily to finish his first lap in under 10 minutes. He was followed by Lev, solo in Porpoise (Enterprise), then Dave and Sheila Berger in Entre Nous (Enterprise), Rob Adams in Phoebe (Laser), Chris Greenwood and Felicia Biekark in Distant Thunder (Leader), Toby Hicks in Cid… (Laser), and Ben Chappell in Envy (Laser). Olly Adams and Billy in Spinosaurus (Mirror) were about 12 minutes behind, with Sam Shemtob solo in his Wayfarer bringing up the rear.
After his first lap Lev picked up a crew in the form of half a tree. The OOD reported that “the new crew slowed him down – they were just dead wood really! Once ruthlessly casting off the new crew he started catching up with the leaders” but didn’t quite make it. James completed five laps in just under the hour followed closely by Dave and then Rob. Lev, Ben and Chris completed four laps, Olly and Toby three, and Sam two.
The water was welly-boot deep on the ramp and much warmth-creating energy was expended by all in recovering and parking the fleet in preparation for the main event – Beer and Bangers.
B&B lived up to its high reputation. Steve Newell had brewed an exceptional beer and Mary Short had barbequed the sausages well on the way to perfection by the time the cold and weary competitors were ready for them, and there was several tables-full of delights contributed by too many members to mention to satisfy every palate.
Mention must, however, be made of the OOD team of Enoch and Andy. Keeping tabs of 9 boats, making 35 separate crossings of the line, with rising water and falling temperature, is no mean feat.
So that was the last race. A report on the sailing season will follow shortly, but please note that the Dinner and Dance will be held on 23rd March 2024. Mark in your diary and contact Marian for tickets.
We have been discussing methods of getting to and from the start of the C course through Kew Bridge recently and have trialed some ideas of Andrew Ross. This has been helpful and the Committee has agreed that it would be appropriate to publish these notes about the discussions:
The first thing to remember is that each sailing dinghy has a skipper who is responsible for the safety of his crew and boat. She/he should not do anything or ask anybody else to do anything which he/she is not confident is safe and prudent. The safety boat driver is responsible for the safety boat and if she/he is not comfortable to provide requested assistance he/she should refuse, and the club will support him /her.
For large vessels, travelling under Kew Bridge is awkward, because the current is quite strong the arch is narrow and the bridge is on a bend in the river with poor visibility. It is important therefore that the river is clear before setting up to enter the central arch.
In the old days Bermuda rigged boats set off early enough before high water so that they could get under the bridge without having to heel over. This is a good idea and should be routine! An Enterprise can get under the central arch until the water gets up to the top of the vertical part of bridge piers. We certainly need to get back to the habit of allowing extra time, say 30 minutes, to prepare and get to the start of a C course.
If a boat launches late and if the safety boat driver is prepared to help sailors under the bridge, it’s better if he has two competent people on board. If he has more, he can always put the surplus ashore and pick them up again later.
Heeling the dinghies over is easier if no one is aboard, so the helm and crew should transfer to the safety boat, having lifted both the centre board and rudder (this makes the dinghy much more manoeuvrable). Unless the wind is light it’s easier to take down the sails, in which case it is possible to wait for your turn for help by the ramp just downstream. If going through with the sails up the dinghy must be head to wind, so it might be taken through backwards. The safety boat driver must decide if he is happy to take the safety boat backwards or would prefer to go forwards with the dinghy facing backwards. The safety boat driver must be happy that there is enough time to get properly set up before the current takes the boats under the bridge.
After the race roughly the same applies to the return through the bridge! Or preferably wait for the tide to fall.
Weather: Fair, light wind F1-2 from WNW (according to the Met Office)
Course: short ‘A’ with a Zoffany House start line.
Five boats were launched by 16:00, in good time for the 16:15 start. The wind had been teasing us all day and was still undecided as we approached the start time.
On the water were: Rob Adams in Phoebe (Laser); Henry and Mary Brown in Big Polly (Enterprise); Ben Chappell in Envy (Laser); Nick Floyer in flo (Gull); and Lev Kolobov in Porpoise (Enterprise).
A fine afternoon sailing progressed as the wind chose at this point to pick up nicely and the sun came out to make the scene photogenic. Although Lev was first over the start line and Rob rounded the first buoy in the lead it was Ben who led at the first lap. On the second lap, Mary and Henry flew past Rob and Lev to complete the second lap just behind Ben. Never-the-less Ben held the lead for the first five laps.
For 35 minutes the wind helped produce good times and some pacey down-river runs. And then it seemed to give up! Lap six was the slow one. However, just as quickly, the wind picked up again and the lap times picked up accordingly.
On the 6th lap, the Browns. Lev and Rob all overtook Ben with Lev moving into a convincing lead which he held for the rest of the race. With the high tide lapping the footpath the race finished after 62 minutes with 10 laps completed by all but Nick, who had briefly been becalmed above the upstream mark.
Thanks to Mary Brown for the new Covid-friendly starting horn – a significant improvement for the OOD.
Leona Shepherd (OOD)
Next week it’s a B-course starting early at 10:00.
No ‘C’ race today. No wind at all. Only sailors Tim and Felicia. Not quorate. Huge volume of rain water. Fast rising tide. Kew Bridge un-navigable. Long streaks of foaming yellow-brown sludge ex backside of Isleworth Ait Thames Water’s overnight discharge. Bubbles glinting and popping in bright sunshine. Smell obvious. ‘A’ course jaunt unattractive. Sam (safety boat) not unhappy. Boat washing and site clearing. Otherwise a nice spring day.
It was a perfect day for a B course, a NE force 2/3 wind blowing the boats down the Chiswick reach against the incoming tide and then a good beat back to the line with the tide. A late start was made because all hands tried to help Frankie rig David Jones ’s old Solo. All in vain when the rudder was mislaid. (Later found behind some other boats in the arch).
Not to worry, the fleet managed one long lap to Chiswick quay and back. Three boats set off: Chris and Felicia (Distant Thunder, Leader), Tim (Ait Knots, Wanderer) and Keith (Kaia, Laser). The first leg was all about choice of course: less tide but less wind in by the bank, or more wind but more tide in the middle of the river. Tim sailed the perfect line – not too close to the bank but not far enough out to hit the tide, to get to the Chiswick Marina mark first. Followed closely by Keith who had recovered from a luff into the tide by Chris and Felicia. On the beat back Chris was rapidly closing on the leading two and just got past them on the Railway bridge mark due to a fluffed mark rounding by Tim caused by a rush of adrenaline as he saw the line honours tantalisingly in front of him. Well sailed.
Sadly, OOD Heather was obliged to call it a day at only one lap. This was partly due to the late start (no more time to do a second lap), partly as the river was ‘closed’ by the PLA for the Vesta Veterans Head of the River that fully occupied the river below Strand End, but also because the tide was beginning to turn.
Well done to Club member Tom Broadhurst for competing in the Vets Head.
The good news is that the 2023 programme has been agreed at the AGM and OOD and Safety Boat duties have been allocated in the usual manner. Members could choose their slots at the AGM and others have been allocated more or less at random. If the duties you have been given don’t suit you, please make arrange a swap with another member. The programme is on the website can be found here and we’ll send paper copies and contact lists to members as soon as possible.
The less good news is that we are increasing our membership and site fees to keep pace with rents, fuel costs and other things. It’s the first time in at least 10 years.
Full family membership increases from £50 to £55
Boat park fees increase from £130 to £140
Other fees (social membership, kayak/canoe storage, trailer park) remain the same.
The increases were discussed and agreed at the AGM and come into effect immediately, for the 2023 season.
Details of payment were in the newsletter, but to remind you:
Account name: SGSC or Strand on the Green Sailing Club,