Race Report 12th May 2024

Race report: Sunday 12th May 2024

OOD: Felicia Biekarck ; safety boat: Chris Greenwood and Tim Young

Under a clear spring sky, six boats took to the water for a triangular A-Course race. A gentle westerly breeze, with the occasional gust and a manageable tide, created ideal conditions for a competitive afternoon. 

The fleet consisted of two Enterprises sailed by team James+Billy in Zephyr and Rob+Kiran in Big Polly, two Lasers sailed by Ben in Envy and Keith in Kaia, a Mirror with team Olly+Felicity in Spinosaurus, and a Gull sailed by Nick in flo. Our thanks to Chris and Tim for their excellent safety boat coverage throughout the afternoon.

The race kicked off at 5 pm, with Rob+Kiran seizing an early lead, closely followed by James+Billy and Ben right behind them. These three established themselves as the leading pack early on. The first buoy was rounded by James+Billy, holding their position throughout the fast-paced race and completing the first lap in just under seven minutes.

Meanwhile, in the rear pack, Keith in his Laser, Nick in his Gull, and Olly+Felicity in their Mirror battled it out, exchanging positions regularly and occasionally facing wind stalls and the challenges of the tide.

James+Billy’s consistent boat speed earned them the win, completing 7 laps in 55’20”. Rob+ Kiran, also completing 7 laps, finished a close second at 59’06”. Ben followed in third with 6 laps. Nick, team Olly+Felicity, and Keith all completed 4 laps, having enjoyed a rewarding race. 

All in all, a fantastic afternoon. It was particularly pleasing to see all three two-person boats crewed by our up-and-coming junior sailors. Looking forward to next Sunday’s B-Course race. May the wind blow, may the Sun shine bright!

Cheers to all,


Race Report 28th April 2024

Race Report 28th April 2024 – revised version

OOD: Nick Floyer Safety boat: James Armitage

Course: A

Lots of sunshine made this a pleasant evening race over a triangular course.  The wind was fickle, mainly westerly but occasionally backing southerly.

Two Enterprises: Rob Adams (Big Polly) and Lev Kolobov (Porpoise), both single-handed.  Two Lasers:  Ben Chappell (Envy) and Toby Hicks (Cip..), and a Mirror, Olly and Billy Adams (Spinosaurus), lined up for a very close start.  However, the wind fell light and contrary, and the fleet spread out: Lev, Rob, Ben, Olly and Toby in that order  All had more or less trouble rounding the weather mark, the red rowers’ channel buoy, in the shelter of the trees on the Surrey bank.

Thanks to James Armitage in the safety boat, frustrated not to be sailing – as was I,

Nick Floyer (OOD)

Race Report, 21 April 2024

Course C   Weather:  cloudy, gusty, North Easterly up to 13mph

Safety boat: Tim Young

OOD: Ben Chappell

Started on time at 13:40.  Start line: upstream end of pontoon to Water Works tower. Support from several boat owner residents. Flag pole cunningly placed in upturned kayak draining holes. 

Prior to the race Lev Kolobov (Porpoise, Enterprise) and Rob Adams (Big Polly, Enterprise) were helped through centre arch masted and healed, no river traffic. Olly Adams with crew Billy (Spinosaurus, Mirror) sailed independently under Kew bridge. Sam Shemtob (SY2, Wayfarer) towed under with mast down.

A flying start from Olly and Billy Adams (one of the two 7 year-old crew members we were delighted to have in the race) gave Spinosaurus an early lead. Further down the field SY2 had three onboard: Sam, Yellow Tim and Paula. Sam’s brave crew were rewarded with moments ahead of the eventual race winner, as they fought together for 3rd and 4th place. Rob in Big Polly and Hugo Bryant (our other 7 year-old, out on his first race) now in 2nd place found their rhythm and took the race lead from Spinosaurus. Lev fought his way up through the field, 4th, 3rd, 2nd. The order around the mark near the London Apprentice was Rob followed at some distance by Lev who was just ahead of Olly, with Sam bringing up the rear. This was the order down river to the finish as the wind strengthened and the sun came out, Lev gaining all the time until the two Enterprises were neck and neck. With 200 yards to go Lev finally passed Rob and Hugo to finish victorious after just over an hour sailing. 

Lev, the race winner on the water held station near the finish line as the other boats raced to finish but he was caught by a sudden gust of wind and given cause to demonstrate how to right an Enterprise. Using this capsize routine as inspiration he then capsized his way under Kew Bridge before sailing back to the club. 

The various handicap sums gave the winning Handicap points to Spinosaurus; the Big Boats win to Porpoise; the Little Boats win and the Polly Prize to Spinosaurus. Well done all.

Next week’s race is an A-course starting at 16:50.

Ben Chappell, OOD.

Race Report 14 April 2024

OOD: Sam Shemtob, Safety boat: Dave Berger

An impressive six boats headed out early Sunday evening to complete a full triangular A course.  Conditions were perfect, with a fresh south westerly wind and few gusts.

A tight start saw the boats all set off together, remaining closely grouped as they approached the first mark.  James Armitage with Billy Adams in Zephyr (Enterprise) were first round, followed closely by Rob Adams in Big Polly (Enterprise) and somewhat behind Ben Chappell in Envy (Laser).

The top three held their positions for the first three laps, with Rob steadily closing in on James and Billy and coming round the rear mark just 12 seconds behind them after lap three.  Frankie Skrzeszewski, sailing Tango (Solo), crept up from last position after the first lap to 4th after the second, only to capsize in the third and retire.  

Despite Rob breathing down his neck, James and Billy maintained their composure, pulling away over the next couple of laps and winning in 6 laps just over a minute ahead of Rob. 

A cold evening, a couple of spots of rain threatened but the setting sun eventually came out for the final lap.  Olly and Felicity Adams, completing a none-too-shabby 4 laps in their Mirror, brought the Adam’s family representation to three generations and came third in the Polly prize.  

Many thanks to Dave Berger on safety boat.

Sam Shemtob, OOD

Race Report, 7 April 2024

The race was exciting to say the least if somewhat short-lived!

With wind speeds recorded at Kew of 24knots, gusting 34, from SW, a lot of members decided to opt out of the race.  However, we managed to sign up 5 boats for a B-course!

Rob Adams with new sailing member Rob Walsh got caught by a gust leading to a capsize and some swimming to the Safety Boat, which ended their race in Big Polly (Enterprise).

Dave and Sheila Berger (Entre Nous, Enterprise) decided to retire after the start leaving James Armitage with Felicia Biekark in Zephyr (Enterprise) to complete one lap in 15mins 59secs.   James yelled up to me to stop the race and I decided to listen to the voice of experience and did just that.

Joe Armitage finished the lap in his Laser (Punt) shortly after in 18mins 52 secs. That would’ve ended the race except for the determination of single-handed Lev Kolobov (Porpoise, Enterprise) who after numerous capsizes managed to finish his one lap in 58mins 52secs.

A big shout out to Sam Shemtob with Louise who stepped up to man the Safety Boat on a very challenging race day!

Frankie Skrzeszewski, OOD.

Race Report 24th March 2024

Heather Adams OOD, and Rob Adams with Tim Young in the safety boat.

B Course

There was time for us to have a race before the Vets HORR (Head of the River Race) that runs on the falling tide. Tim and Rob in the safety boat had a friendly conversation with the PLA launch crew who were happy with our reassurance that we would be off the river in time for their race.

A little bit of anxiety over an apparent ‘no start’ from the outboard. For the record and for future drivers the issue was two-fold: first, no petrol through the supply pipe (push the bubble down in the loose/motor end and ensure flow by pumping the squeezer). Second issue was the kill chord: it was on but in the wrong position i.e. above the ring that allows the engine to start.

The weather was good for a sail with a good force 3-4 Westerly at the start of the race. 4 boats launched but Kieth Clarke in his Laser (Kaia) never really got away from the club hard and retired. The remaining three, Chris Greenwood and Felicia Biekark in DistantThunder (Leader), James Armitage and novice crew Pacu Biekark in Zephyr (Enterprise), and Olly and Billy Adams in Spinosaurus (Mirror), got away for a good start with the Mirror out in front. Chris and Felicia spent a little time in the trees on the Surrey bank fixing their rudder and set off 100yds behind. Cracking planing run down to the buoy at Chiswick Staithe, by which time the Mirror had been overhauled by both big boats but not without a spirited defence of its position.

This was the order for the rest of the race, but the Leader had closed the gap on the Enterprise. A few close calls with all crews experiencing SGSC wind changes. Olly reported that he had water over the side for the first time! 180 degree shifts on the beat challenging the combatants! Three laps completed with the average sail time of an hour.

Finally nice high tide to make boat recovery easy pulling boats straight into the yard.

Next week is an A-course, starting at 16:50.

Rob Adams

The First Race Report

Race Report 10th March 2024 – the First Race

OOD: Leona Shepherd

Safety Boat: Keith Clarke with Frankie Skrzesewski

Weather: Wet with very light to no wind.

Course: A

Five boats launched with James Armitage and Billy Adams in Zephyr (Enterprise); Rob Adams (new owner!!) and Henry Brown (old owner) in Big Polly (Enterprise); Ollie Adams and Felicity Adams in Spinosaurus (Mirror); Ben Chappel in Envy (Laser) and Lev Kolobov in Porpoise (Enterprise). At 13.10 all the boats were holding steadily into the tide/wind, while the safety boat repositioned the buoys to shorten the course due to the lack of wind and the strength of the tide.

The race was started at 13.21 with all 5 boats eventually crossing the start line. Ben in Envy crossed first and held the lead for almost 30secs until Lev overtook him and held onto it for most of the next hour. It was a day for light boats that could accelerate in the slightest gusts – as with single-handed Lev, and Ben’s Laser.  Even James with a light-weight crew failed the test, and the Rob/Henry combo didn’t even make a lap.  The trickiest and therefore, slowest section for the leaders was the upstream end after rounding the 2nd buoy. Here the lack of wind left the tide dominating which proved challenging for all the boats. At the end of the 2nd lap, Ben in Envy crossed the finish line first, just ahead of Lev in Porpoise in 2nd place.. James in Zephyr came 3rd. Spinosaurus and Big Polly after heroic commitments retired.

The water came from all directions: a spring tide from the East; a fluvial flow from the West; and the opened heavens above. By the end of the race even the OOD’s party were perched on steps above in crotch-deep waters on the footpath. Due to a dead calm spot near the 2nd buoy, the last quarter of the last lap took up to 30mins, and so it was declared time to stop.

Keith took on towing duties and delivered dinghies back to the Arch and a reception committee of Tim Young and Heather Adams, all well over welly-height of cold water.

Ultimately it was a soggy start to the sailing season with exceptionally slow times and very wet sailors, safety boaters, OOD and assistants.

Thank you to everyone who helped on shore, on the water and back at the club.

Leona Shepherd (OOD)

Race Report, 5th November 2023

The race was originally set for a 1300 D-course but with so much rainwater coming down the river, the current wouldn’t be turning until a couple of hours before high tide, so a Hammersmith race wasn’t an option. We decided to try a delayed A course instead but by 3.45pm the current was still running fiercely downstream and darkness was not far away. We found a little eddy between the Bell and Crown and the steam packet. We set buoys at each end of it and managed short centreplate-scraping race round and round in lightish but usable wind until it got dark.

Despite all this, of the five boats that set off, Tim Young’s Ait Knots (Wanderer), Toby Hick’s Laser and Nick Jeffery’s Eeyore all drifted under the railway bridge on setting off and had to be rescued.  Taking note, the others walked the boats towards the Bell and Crown, where a fair westerly wind was more pronounced. 

With the start delayed to 1530, James advised adopting a ‘reverse A-course’, with boats setting off from the Bell and Crown towards Kew bridge and passing both buoys on the port side.  So sailing in an anticlockwise loop, with the upriver boy halfway between the Bell and Crown and the Kew Bridge, and the downriver boy more or less opposite Zoffany House.

With Eeyore retired, the race eventually started just before 1600, with Dave Berger (with Sheila in Entre Nous, Enterprise) getting a great start but Tim and Toby getting recalled for being in front of the start line.  James (Zephyr, Enterprise) did a 360 at the first buoy, presumably as he’d hit it.

With Dave Berger ahead after the first lap, James did an incredibly tight turn on the downriver buoy going into the second lap to beat both Dave and Tim. James completed the second lap two seconds ahead of Dave and wasn’t going to let him back into the race. 

Tim then ran aground and retired after completing his first lap.

With the sun setting and the weather cooling, and some sage advice from Nick Floyer, we stopped the race after 6 laps, with James completing in 22.28 mins, ahead of Dave Berger on 25.18.

An interesting event!

Sam Shemtob (OOD) with additions from JA.

Race Report 22nd October 2023

OOD: Tom Broadhurst;   safety boat: Tim Young and Dave Jones

It was a fine autumn afternoon – perfect for a downstream race to Hammersmith and back, were it not for the lack of wind (a light SW) and the abundant rainwater that filled the river and threatened to overcome the incoming tide, on which we rely for the return journey.

Seven boats launched – James Armitage and Kiran Biekarck (his first ever race) in Zephyr (Enterprise); Chris Greenwood and Felicia Biekarck in Distant Thunder (Leader); Rob Adams in Phoebe (Laser); Ben Chappell in Envy (Laser); Joe Armitage in Punt (Laser); Toby Hicks in Cip (Laser); and Olly Adams and Billy in Spinosaurus (Mirror).

The downstream half had the benefit of the ebb and the light SW wind.  After a 14:30 start James reached the downstream mark at Chiswick Eyot at 15:05, followed at one-minute intervals by Joe, Rob, Chris, Ben and Toby, and finally Olly at15:16.  From then on it was a slow struggle against the river, which was doggedly reluctant to admit the flood tide, and the wind.  This is illustrated in a brilliant graphic from Olly plotting his course around the buoy and, eventually, the start of his slow beat back up-river.

Tim tells me that James and Joe swapped the lead at several points, and both were becalmed at Barnes Bridge for a time.  Rob and Chris kept similarly close company through much of the return.

The end of the ordeal came for James after 3 hours 5 minutes from the start with Joe 5 minutes behind.  Rob was third after 3 hours 22 minutes with Chris on 3 hours 35 minutes.  Olly and Billy were 4 minutes short of 4 hours – heroic endurance.  Both Ben and Toby had decided that enough was enough and accepted a tow from Tim and Dave.

Next week is a A-course at 13:00.


The course of Spinosaurus, 22 Oct 2023