Race Report, May-day, 2022

OOD: Leona Shepherd

Safety Boat: Sam Shemtob

Weather: Fair; Light wind moving between NE and S.

Course: A

Four boats launched at 14:25 in a light NE wind. Race started at 14:41.

On the water there was:  one Laser – Keith Clarke in Kaia; oneEnterprise – Dave Berger helming Big Polly;  one Little Boat – Tim Young captaining Ait Knots; one Leader – Distant Thunder, helmed by Felicia with her husband Pacu crewing.

The rain cleared just before the starting whistle, and a steady, if light, wind ensured that the race got off to a good start. Keith almost made the perfect start but unfortunately had to come round again in the last 7 seconds allowing Dave to take an early lead. This did not last long and throughout the first three laps the fleet was neck and neck.

On the fourth lap the wind became more variable in direction and strength, making the down-river stretch slow and tricky, while the up-river leg was quite pacey. Unfortunately Tim accidentally caught the up-stream buoy at the end of his 3rd  lap and took a penalty. As near-by competitors struggled to see the buoy, which was hidden by Ait Knots, this was a moment when the race started to spread out.

The wind eventually died making the last laps much longer than the first three and bringing the average lap time down. After six laps Dave crossed the line first at 64 minutes, followed by Keith 12minutes later with Felicia and Pacu only 3minutes behind him, and finally Tim.

Leona (OOD)

Race Report 24 April 2022

OOD: Tim Wellburn

Safety Boat: James Armitage

Weather: Sunny; Light NE wind, gusting at times.

Six boats launched at 16:10 in a light NE wind, heading for Hammersmith.

Three Lasers took to the water: Joseph in Punt; Rob in Phoebe and Keith in Kaia.

Enterprises were represented by just Lev and David in Porpoise, and by Big Polly, the latter helmed on this occasion by David Berger.

Nick Floyer brought a little variety to the fleet in his attractive wooden Gull (flo).

A run took the competitors as far as Barnes Bridge, but it was beating beyond that, and quite gusty in places.  However, the River outran the race, with the tide turning just before Chiswick Pier, so James in the Safety Boat dropped a buoy to shorten the course.

Returning, the boats had a run to near the brewery, but beating thereafter, meeting some renewed gusts after Chiswick Bridge.

Nick put discretion before valour on the return leg and initially sailed on the jib but, confounded by contrary winds, subsequently retired, accepting a tow.

The OOD resumed his post neatly in time to record Joseph and then Rob over the line, separated by less than a minute, followed 5 minutes later by David in his borrowed Ent.  Then, a bit under 10 minutes later, Keith pipped Lev to the line by less than 30 seconds.

Tim (OOD)

Race Report 17 April 2022

A dry, sunny afternoon. High spring tide with varying wind conditions 2 gusting 4 from SSE.

A “B” course was set with an upstream buoy laid at the Bulls Head Pub close in and a downstream buoy laid at Chiswick Staithe.

Four Enterprises:  Zephyr (James and Ruth), Porpoise (Lev and David), Big Polly (David and Shelia) and Ixion (Tim and Emma).

 A Leader (Chris and Felicia in Distant Thunder) and Envy (Ben in his Laser) and not forgetting those tan sails of Eeyore (Nick and Nicole plus Poppy the dog).

The race commenced at 14.40.

A good start was made by all apart from Eeyore, swept under the railway bridge well before the start. Ixion was also struggling against the tide and wind. Sam helped in the safety boat with a tow – accepted by Ixion but Eeyore decided to row back to the Club Ramp. Poppy was very pleased.

A difficult sail against the Spring Tide and the SSE wind but incident free, no capsizes but long lap times.

 Zephyr raced ahead and maintained the lead throughout the race.

Zephyr completed three laps in 70.25 minutes.

Big Polly and Porpoise also completed three laps in 91.22 and 92.40 minutes – close racing.

Distant Thunder and Envy completed two laps in 87.00 and 91.55 minutes.

Ixion persevered with stemming the tide but eventually retired.

Thanks to Sam and Nikita in the Safety Boat for course setting and for safety watch.

OOD John Bull

Race Report 10 April 2022

It was a fine spring day with a south wind gusting at the top end of F3, five boats starting.  James got a really good start to windward with a lift that sent him clear of the others. Ben did a quick capsize after Rob had persuaded him to sail with the Laser main sheeted in tighter than his usual habit. The course was shortened by the safety boat because the tide turned at St Nicholas Church.  On the way back there was close racing between Chris and Ben with Chris crossing the finishing line just before Ben.

The star of the day was Nick in the Duckling with a well sailed leg to St Nicholas’s Church well behind the leaders, but then benefitting with plenty of rising tide under him to make a swift passage back to Strand to the cheers of the front runners.  Next week it’s a B-course starting at 14:40.

Heather Adams (OOD), and Rob

May be an image of 1 person and outdoors
May be an image of 2 people, people boat racing, sailing boat and outdoors
May be an image of 2 people, people boat racing and outdoors
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Race Report 3 April 2022

The Real Boat Race: 3 April 2022

When fair April with his showers sweet

Hath pierced the drought of March to the root’s feet

And bathed each vein in liquor of such power

Its strength creates the newly-springed flower

So Nature stirs them up to such a pitch

That folk all long to go on pilgrimage

And wandering travellers tread new shores, strange strands.

Geoffrey Chaucer. (1360). General Prologue. The Canterbury Tales.

The Spring Working Party had power-washed the safety boat and hedge-trimmed the foliage, stacking the branches in a spring-green avenue, to enable a parade of 9 boats onto the bone-chillingly cold river that the OOD’s thermometer registered at just 9 degrees Celsius.

An F1-F3 wind, feeling much colder than the 9 degrees air, was steadily from the North which indicated a long ‘A’ course, wind over tide, as the best option for David Jones to lay one buoy upstream beyond the Bell & Crown and the other far downstream towards the City Barge. It could even have enabled a classic ‘Round the Island Race’.

As the OOD arrived to set up the flags, so two 24’ Cornish 4-seater all-women gigs; plus 2 male coxes, happy followers after the Women’s Boat Race, arrived to celebrate their Cambridge win – and moor their boat bows to the shore, across the river, until very politely being invited by the OOD to consider mooring behind each other alongside the bank – which they kindly agreed to do; helped by the very knowledgeable and honourable presence of Margaret Berger, who could attest to the wisdom of their not being in the way of the sailors of the SGSC!  

Lev [with David] was the last to the start line – and most adroitly turned to cross it first while the remaining fleet drifted back; all then finding just enough in a stiff puff to get them going – with Nick in the Duckling flapping about at the rear to stay in touch.  The wind quickly picked up to F3 and James [with Ruth] decided to sail out the mainstream and go outside the PLA trot – and he was followed by David Berger in Big Polly [with Nikita, a very friendly Russian, recruited on the day for an exploratory sail], while everyone else stuck to the North bank run.

A 15-minute circuit brought them back to the ODD, with James in the lead, but now with Ian in Vibe second, with David just behind, but only one second ahead of Tim. Then, within two minutes, both Rob and Ben, then Chris [with Felicia] and Lev [with David], each pair sparred within a second of each other.

On the second lap, James repeated his main river trick – but stalled at the crossing before Oliver Island, though he was now followed by both Ben and Rob, while Ian and Tim still preferred the inside track. Apart from James [and Nick, who was about to be lapped by him], all the other 7 boats were now all about to cross the line simultaneously, all within exactly the same minute of each other; a nightmare for the OOD with a cheerful Boat Race party going on around him!

Thankfully, the stiffening wind then stretched the fleet out for a third lap time ranging from 10 minutes to 52 [alas for Nick] while Ian mysteriously disappeared for a while [becalmed somewhere in monastic contemplation] – but still a minute and a half ahead of Tim; though now just 4 minutes in front of James, who could potentially have lapped him

The fourth lap saw Nick drop well back, while Chris [with Felicia] was still keeping in touch with the Enterprises, and ahead of Ian and Tim who were fortunate to be just two seconds behind James who got the notice of the final lap.

Ian snuck across the line just 2 seconds after James on his 5th and final lap to finish with four laps, likewise followed by Tim.

Also with five laps each were David [with Nikita] and Rob – also just one second apart. And then, controversially, Lev and Ben – each also one second apart. Ben thought he had somewhere transgressed in a manoeuvre; but this was unseen by anyone else – and though it was asserted by him that the times should be reversed, the ODD recorded the observed timing.

One minute later, Chris [with Felicia] arrived last to finish, but very happy to finish, cheerfully crossing the line to the OOD’s whistle – and waving greetings to the pub crowd!

It so happened that, while these two pairs of finishers were within one second of each other, so also the two Cornish gigs Boat Race party of 10, 5 in each boat, decided that now was the time for their departure – and so amidst a flurry of bags and jackets and unsteady tumbling down steps into their rocky boats, this dramatic race was concluded.

However, the end of our race was not according to the normal Boat Race tradition of the winning team’s cox [James, the helm] being thrown into the river! That would have made ours a Real Boat Race!

What was actually tossed into the river was the ritualistic Spring offering of green hedge foliage, swept away on the stream water flowing from our 12-foot deep down-to-the-riverbed well under the canoe rack, also at 9 degrees Celsius; delivering piercing cold to the root’s feet for the folk on their pilgrimage on the Strand.

Tea and Waitrose Chocolate Biscuits Selection warmed everyone up, down to the root’s feet; especially those of David Jones for his single-handled work in the Safety Boat.

Andy Ross

4 April 2022

Race Report 27 March 2022

It was an early morning C course race with a 10:10am start.

Grey skies and a soft breeze, that seemed dangerously light, blowing from east/north east. 
Four boats set off, Ben, John, and Keith on the Lasers and Lev solo in his Enterprise. Ian and David were on safety boat duty and I had the honour of taking my first round as OOD.

The race started with John in the lead with the others following very close by.
A combination of a steady breeze and the up river current kept the boats travelling at speed reaching the buoy in Isleworth, pretty much all together, in just about 25 minutes.

Keith, Lev, Ben and John rounded the buoy and here is where the wind proved to be just fine. It was a lovely sail! Tacking against an unusual steady wind, and with the current just turning, the boats sailed gracefully criss-crossing the river from bank to bank.

Ben took the lead for most of the return leg, until overtaken by Lev on a dead wind spot by the Syon House banks.

Lev was the first to cross the finish line in 1:01h followed by Ben 1:04h, Keith 1:06h and John 1:08h

There was a cheerful mood back at the Arch over a cup of tea and biscuits. Race worth sailing!

Hopping to see more of the Strand crowd joining us next Sunday, A course, 3:35pm start.



Race Results 20 March 2022

The blossom was out, the sun shining but the wind was very light. A decision was made to change the course from a B to an A.

Lev had a lovely start and sailed into the lead whilst it took the remaining 6 boats a little time to get going.

The race continued with Lev maintaining his lead until disaster struck at the downwind mark which he gently nudged when rounding it.

This gave James with his crew Ruth the opportunity to take the lead and to win the race. Lev was second and Ian doggedly kept going to finish four laps in two hours.

Everyone else was able to complete at least one lap, Chris and Felicia managed two, but Ben, Keith and Sam retired before the end.

Heather Adams, OOD

Race Result 13 March 2022

A dry, sunny morning with variable S wind , F3, turning cold.

A “C” course was started as soon as the four boats assembled upstream of Kew Road Bridge at the unreasonably early time of 0945. Dave Jones was helming the safety boat with two crew. Two Enterprises,  Porpoise (Lev sailing solo) and  Zephyr (James and Ruth) were joined by Chris and Felicia in Leader Distant Thunder and Tim (sailing solo) in Wanderer Ait Knots.

The race commenced early with Tim following the leading pack of three having been a little way back prior to the start.

I understand that James and Chris broke away on the way up to Isleworth.  (There’s little to see from the OOD’s position.)  I also learnt Lev capsized but recovered quickly and was able to progress to Isleworth.  

The race concluded with the return of James in 52 mins, Chris in  66 mins, then Lev in 97 mins and closely followed by Tim in 97:20.  

A longish haul with some difficult hanging around to make the passage back under Kew Road Bridge in slightly colder conditions.

Thanks to Dave and crew in the Safety Boat for safety watch and the assistance to crews.

Tom Broadhurst (OOD)

Results for the First Race 2022

We published John’s race report last week but now that the Handicap Sums have been done (see below, based on Portsmouth Numbers / Polly Prize) we can report the true winners.

No surprise that James Armitage (Zephyr, Enterprise) won, followed by his son Joseph (Punt, Laser) and then Rob Adams (Phoebe, Laser).


A dry, sunny afternoon but cold. High spring tide with varying wind conditions 2 gusting 4 from ENE.

The 1st RACE of 2022.

An “A” course was set with an upstream buoy laid beyond the Bell and Crown Pub but out in the stream to account for the wind direction, together with a buoy downstream outside the City Barge Pub.

Six boats assembled on the foreshore with Dave Jones helming the safety boat. Two Enterprises Zephyr (James and Ruth) and Porpoise (Lev sailing solo).

Amazingly, four lasers Phoebe (Rob), Envy (Ben), Punt (Joseph) and Chiarella (Ariel).

And Spirit of Youth (Sam sailing solo in his Wayfarer).

The race commenced at 15.50 with Lev recovering fast from shipping water prior to the start but with frantic baling managed to join the start line in time.

Sam missed the start but quickly recovered.

James, Joseph and Rob quickly broke away followed by Ben, Ariel, Lev and Sam.  James, Joseph and Rob maintained their lead with Joseph and James changing places throughout. All three boats lapping in approximately 10 minutes. This continued for three laps after which James managed to pull away from Joseph with Rob losing ground.  Lev was moving up with Ben close behind although they both experienced different setbacks. Lev having to complete a penalty for touching the Bell and Crown buoy and Ben in capsizing twice in unexpected gusts of wind. Ben recovering quickly without assistance from Dave Jones in the safety boat. Meanwhile Ariel was caught between trees on the island and lost his position. Sam continued steadily.

The race concluded with James 5 laps in 47.06, Joseph 5 laps 52.29 and Rob 5 laps 60.27.

Lev and Ben 4 laps in 53.14 and 60.45.  Ariel 3 laps in 59.30 and Sam 2 laps in 47.40.

A tricky, but enjoyable days sailing over an “A” course beyond the “GRID”.

Thanks to Dave in the Safety Boat for course setting and for safety watch.

OOD John Bull

(the table of results will follow when the Master of Sums returns to base)