Last Race, 5 November 2017

Last Race of the season, 5 November  2017

It was a bright and breezy afternoon with a full F3, plus added gust, blowing down the A-course from Kew Bridge.  A magnificent 9 boats took to the water, but even before the start three of them came to the conclusion that an immersion was highly likely and returned to the ramp – all Enterprises: the Browns, Rob Collingwood, and Chris and Laura Greenwood.  The others were made of sterner stuff.

Dave and Sheila Berger, rare visitors to our waters, sailing James Armitage’s Enterprise, led almost from the start.  He was closely followed by Nick Floyer at the start of the second lap (14 seconds behind) with Alex Pape and Ian Nethersell also less than a minute behind.   Alas, that was it for Nick.  He was overpowered on the run downstream, capsized, and despite valiant attempts to right his Lightning, it refused to behave.  After several attempts he had to concede and retire from the race – wet and cold.

So that left five contenders, and the Bergers kept ahead, but not by much at first.  At lap two all four were within two minutes of each other.  At three laps Alex and the Bergers were a mere 20 seconds apart with Lev and Ian about three minutes behind them.  Alex was still number two on the next lap with Ian just ahead of Lev, but by the next lap both had overtaken Alex.  The Bergers were drawing further ahead by this stage and went on to lap all the others.  They completed seven hectic laps in the allotted hour, three minutes ahead of Ian’s six laps with Alex and then Lev crossing the line after a further two and three minutes.  Sam Shemtob, with two crew in his Wayfarer and two reefs in his main fought for three laps and the fifth place but was forced to take assistance from the safety boat and retired.

So ended a very exciting race, as well as the 2017 sailing season.  The handicap system gave the race to the Bergers, followed by Lev, then Alex, and finally Ian.  Many thanks to Enoch Rodriguez for supervising the event, and to David Jones and Steve Newell for manning the safety boat.

As usual the race was followed by Beer and Bangers.  The beer was brewed by Steve, Mary Short slaved over the barbeque, soup and cake were provided by Margaret Berger, and other food was provided by several willing members.  It was especially good to see three of our most senior members at the feast: Kurt and Margaret Berger and Paul Williamson.

Race Report, 29 October 2017

Race Report, 29 October 2017

With the switch to GMT we knew that a late afternoon D-course would be a race against the gathering dusk and a gamble with the wind and tide.  But the omens were good: a bright mostly sunny day and a north wind of, officially, the top of F3, and a neapish tide.

Three boats were prepared to risk the trip to Hammersmith and back – Lev Kolobov and Tim Young in Gulls and Nick Floyer in his Lightning.  The start time coincided with the predicted low water at Chiswick Mall based on our experience that the flood tide takes at least an hour to kick in after the official low water, and that it takes at least 45 minutes to sail from Strand down to the turning point at Corinthians.

Nick had a good start and led the way on the run down to Chiswick Bridge, followed closely by Lev.  The curve in the river around Duke’s Meadows then sheltered them from the wind and progress was little faster than the tide until they emerged through Barnes Bridge.  They then had a brisk beat in close tacking towards Corney Reach with Tim following at an increasing distance in the rear.

By the time Nick and Lev reached the lifeboat station the ebb was almost slack and although they were storming along at great speed the safety boat (manned by Henry, Alex and David Jones) made the decision to shorten the course so that they could get back to Strand by sunset.  So a buoy was dropped short of Chiswick Eyot and the sailors were instructed to round it.  Lev was in the lead at that point and gybed around the mark to set off back on the run.  Nick was not so lucky.  He was caught by a gust as he gybed and capsized.  By the time he had disentangled the mainsheet, swum round to the centre board, heaved the boat upright, struggled aboard, regained control and gingerly turned downwind, Lev was a dot on the horizon and Tim had rounded the buoy and was on his way home.  The Lightning is a well-mannered boat and comes up with hardly any water aboard, but that still left a wet and cold Nick facing a long sail back.  He soon overtook Tim on the run up to Barnes Bridge and caught up with Lev in the doldrums around Duke’s Meadow.  Once through Chiswick Bridge, as the sun set, he and Lev resumed a tacking battle back to the Railway Bridge, which Nick won by a minute.  Tim followed seven minutes later while there was still enough daylight to heave the boats up to the arch and recover the safety boat.

After the sums, the handicap points were won by Tim, and the Class and Polly points went to Lev.

Mary, as well as being OOD, provided nourishing flapjack to go with the steaming tea; much appreciated by all.

Next week is the Last Race  at 13:30 followed by Beer and Bangers.  All are welcome.

Race Report, 22 October 2017

Race Report, 22 October 2017

The Met Office wind forecast for Kew Gardens was for the top of F3 from the west with gusts of F6, following a very gusty day on Saturday thanks to Storm Brian.  This was enough to deter several helms from even getting their boats out, but Lev Kolobov was up for it and so was his son David who was to crew for James Armitage.  Following much deliberation and gazing Kew-wards from the ramp first James and then Lev rigged and launched.  James was assaulted by gusts from all sides in the lee of the island, suffered a fault with his goose-neck and headed back to the ramp to recover.  Lev, having been capsized while still on the trolley, got afloat and cautiously tested the conditions.  James by this time had decided that a dunking for him and David was almost inevitable in the turbulent conditions, called it a day, and the race was abandoned.  Lev decided to go for a circumnavigation of the island which he achieved with much flapping of sails and changes of course before also heading back to the ramp, with the safety boat in close attendance.

So high honours should be awarded to James, David and Lev for both brave intentions and prudent second thoughts.  Chris Jones, David Jones and Henry Brown manned the safety boat, fortunately not required in extremis, and Tim Wellburn, who made the necessary preparations for the race, provided the much-appreciated refreshments afterwards.

Next week’s race, after we revert to GMT, will be a D-course that should finish around sunset.  If it’s a clear day, and if there’s a favourable wind there should be no problem in getting back to Strand in the light.  But if it’s cloudy and windless the race may be cancelled.  You have been warned.

Henry Brown