Race Report, 26 August, 2018

Race Report, 26 August 2018

This Sunday’s race followed the excitement of the Ladies Plate and the relaxing pleasures of the summer party, and perhaps that combination was enough to exhaust the usual turnout.  Or perhaps it was a weather forecast of F3 southerlies, gusting 4-5 with continuous heavy rain and low temperatures.  Whatever the cause, four hardy souls were willing to test their skills: Dave and Sheila Berger, who appropriated the Brown’s Enterprise (they being down for race officer and safety boat duties), James Armitage and Lev Kolobov, who decided to pool their resources in Jame’s Enterprise.

Before the launch the wind was steadily propelling the rain almost straight up the river and flapping rather than flogging the hoisted sails.  Not too scary.  And so it continued: a quick run up to the start, some frisky reaches before the whistle, then a beat down to the downstream mark by the City Barge, both boats keeping in the relatively slack water by the bank.  They rounded neck and neck to run back up to the line with James a mere 2 seconds ahead of Dave.  It was a 10 minute lap, as was the second with James’ lead increasing to 25 seconds.  And still the rain came down.  From then on James gradually got ahead so that by the time Mary took pity on them and hoisted the yellow flag it was clear that the pattern had been set.  James and Lev finished about 4 minutes in the lead.

Margaret Berger came down on her bike to join Mary and see fair play while Henry got wetter and wetter with no one to rescue in the safety boat.  But there was Mary’s flapjack in the arch to supplement the hot tea.

Race Report, the Ladies Plate 2018

Race Report, Ladies Plate, 25 August 2018

Four dinghies turned out for the Ladies Plate, a record in recent years.  Lucy, nursing a broken foot, was crewed in the family Enterprise by Rob Collingwood; Catherine was crewed by Alex Pape in his dipping lugger; Jo was crewed by Tim Young in his Gull; and Jane was crewed by another Alex in her Gull.

The wind was around F3 from the NW giving a run down the A-course and a beat back.  The wind was steady enough for all the boats to keep going without the doldrums that often occur at the turning marks. Catherine, Jo and Lucy, in that order, were all within a minute of each other at the end of the first lap with Jane (with rudder problems) a minute behind.  Catherine increased her lead, even with a reef in her sail, for the next two laps, but then something mysterious happened to slow her down, despite shaking out the reef.  Jo then took the lead with Lucy close behind in second place about a minute ahead of Catherine.  Jane by this time had tangled with the PLA midstream moorings – there was a choice of making a long tack to the Surrey side or tacking up the Strand side of the moorings and Jane got caught by a wind shift at the critical moment.  After accepting help from the safety boat, she decided to retire from the race but carried on sailing anyway.

During the fifth lap Lucy’s foot gave enough trouble to hand over the helm to Rob, and she gracefully retired.

That left Jo and Catherine battling it out on the sixth and final lap.  Jo maintained her lead in the well-ballasted Gull and finished almost three minutes ahead.

Congratulations to all concerned and especially to the very infrequent, if not novice, helms for very seawomanlike performances.

And now for the Andy Ross account …

LADIES RACE REPORT                                                   Saturday 25 August 2018

Marvellously breaking the drought of the last few years, four boats helmed by ladies [all crewed by men] took to the water on Strand for the Ladies Race – all still in the afterglow of the warmth of the summer heatwave and possibly induced to take part by a warm and sunny afternoon with just a whisper or two of wind from the West.

As the boats ventured around in an approach to the Start Line, Steve Newell, acting as OOD, rather like an Umpire assembling stray running horses to get them under Starters Orders, – and seeing them all facing in different directions, and with a missing boat – put the Red Flag up and called a 3-minute Delayed Start.

Jane [with Alex] in her Gull 2196 had put into the bank to fix a problem with a troublesome rudder. But she soon joined the fleet; and after some random bumping and thumping between them and Lucy [and Rob] in the Enterprise, Jo Broadhurst [and Tim] in his Gull 2929, and Catherine [and Alex] in his No Name – they were off!

Dave Jones was in the Safety Boat, fully equipped and with the old boarding ladder stowed – and ready for action with its extendable arms, together with young David as his assistant, carefully keeping in his pocket his latest archaeological foreshore finds.

They were still all bunched together at the downstream buoy, set well before the grid. Jo eased round first, followed by Catherine, then Lucy – and finally Jane. Catherine then made a bold decision to head off over to the main channel for a long tack back to the upstream mark while the others all kept to the inner channel. Whose strategy would win?

Triumphantly, Catherine’s strategic vision worked out really well. She rounded the buoy and came up to her first lap first.  Then Jo, followed by Lucy and Jane – thereby setting a pattern that would broadly define the race.

Two laps in and Jane was tempted to follow Catherine’s mid-channel manoeuvre – but found she was becoming becalmed at the head of the trot and in danger of being swept onto it and held fast at the end of the line. Time for the Safety Boat to power into action! Dave eased them back off, pulling them back upstream [thus not in any way giving them any kind of advantage over the other racers]. But it appeared that it maybe took the edge of Jane’s confidence as when she came round again to the Start Line she said she was retiring. However, this was quite unnecessary – and, indeed, she still persisted in carrying on sailing around the course, even when on the next lap she ventured too far off down towards Kew Bridge before managing to return; and in time she successfully completed the entire Ladies Race.

Catherine, meanwhile, had discovered that a quirk of Strand sailing can be encountering inexplicably calm spots. So it was that having established a 2 ½ minute lead the rest of the fleet caught up and overtook her, despite completing another adventurous sprint across to the main channel.

That idea was then also taken up by both Jo and Jane who, although on different laps, and simultaneously racing in equivalent Gulls, streaked off in a freshening wind apparently in order to scatter a long line of 250-300 Common Gulls that were drifting upstream, minding their own business on the far bank. Sequentially, in flocks of 10 x 10, they all took off – obviously annoyed at this intrusion into their mid-afternoon social gathering.

Young David was then landed ashore – anxious to find faster action in prospect with Arsenal v West Ham.

And there was then a discussion amongst those onshore about the reason for the loss, and the apparent theft, of the boat cover. Who could possibly have a use for a cover that was tailor-made to fit on only this boat? Except to cut it up for some other use? How pathetic. The immense time and skill that David has put into making this cover fit so easily and exactly is something that should surely be considered as a potential claim on insurance; and if he can be persuaded to make it again!. Let’s hope so; or be prepared for sitting on sloppy goose poo!

Chris joined everyone including Henry and Mary at the Start Line – and said that his Mary was in Amsterdam at a jazz violin improvisation workshop and concert, but would also have sailed if he had been here. It could have been a fully female fleet!

As Steve signalled for the last lap, Rob took over the tiller from Lucy in a sudden breeze as the Enterprise came by, and thereby retired disqualified, explaining that Lucy had been sailing with a broken foot! How incredibly courageous and stoical! Later, Lucy said that she hadn’t enjoyed the race at all, she was in real pain – and all she wanted was to get home and rest and have a cup of tea! But what great spirit on heroic display for the Ladies Cup!

Tim sailed by, sitting squarely as ever amidships on the thwarts and adding such substantial ballast that all Jo had to do was steer the boat in the right direction; with no need at all for either of them to change their position when tacking.

Subject to the Master of the Sums later calculation on handicap it appeared that Jo had clearly won, followed by Catherine, and then by Jane – in a performance on her first ever race that surely puts her in the running for Paul’s Prize for Persistence.

On the way back to the Club, we saw a huge 42-gallon blue plastic barrel floating in the water. It said “Pickled Limes. Product of India”. 42-gallon blue-painted barrels were the colour-branded product of the Standard Oil Company of Ohio in 1870, to distinguish its oil from those of its competitors. And 42-gallon barrels themselves had been defined by Richard III as a standard size and weight, made by the Worshipful Company of Coopers, that one strong man could reasonably easily lift, with eight to be fitted on a cart, drawn by one horse – in order to carry eels, salmon, herrings, honey, soap, butter, rum, wine, beers – and oil. And here and now, Pickled Limes!

It was wondered if this empty 42-gallon Pickled Lime barrel had held special ingredients for the SGSC Summer Party? Perhaps there was a new signature dish to add to the wonderful cooking repertoire of Marian?  Were we perhaps going to be treated to a trial run for her much-anticipated entry featuring Shetland products with a Pickled Lime twist that everyone would love to see her make, served of course on an SGSC Ladies Plate, on Masterchef? We’re off to find out!

© Andy Ross 26.08.2018

Race Report, 19 August 2018


Race Report: 19 August 2018: INVISIBLE WIND

There was a pungent smell of rotting seaweed on the beach at Strand which floated on an Invisible Wind and lazily flapped around the sails of Nick, Tim, James and Lev and Michael and Alice on hot and humid Sunday as they prepared for a ‘D’ course down to Hammersmith.

Perhaps it came from the churned-up stones as the Safety Boat was grumbled and graunched on broken rollers down the shore accompanied, as if in an awful concert, by the groaning cries of David who every winter has to repair the damage to the hull – and who was coming on board with Andy [standing in for Enoch, who was taking Zena to enrol at the University of Amsterdam].

A generally Westerly wind occasionally stirred itself up into a brisk gust – and then dropped away.

Henry was OOD, and by the time he had whistled for the start Michael was only just afloat on the water – and was having trouble with his rudder. He came ashore again at the start line to attend to it while the others sailed off. By the time he had fixed it [temporarily as it turned out] the fleet of three were still only a quarter of the way to Chiswick Bridge.

The mid-channel course was an empty conveyor belt with barely a ripple on the water, though ominously the tall trees of Hartington Road were swinging about quite wildly. Something was up there.

But it appeared it was going to be a long and slow journey to Hammersmith.

David leant back in the bow and got out his pipe and while he recounted stories of his son Robert filming with Tom Cruise in Budapest he repeatedly failed to light it while, in a premonition of things to come, pernicious little gusts of Invisible Wind blew it out – and he wished he’d brought along the yachtsman’s all-weather butane torch lighter that Norbert had given him.

While the blue Enterprise sail of James and Lev was now out of sight, the tips of Tim and Nick’s white sails could just be seen going round the Barnes brewery bend as Michael and Alice meandered their way gently towards and under Chiswick Bridge.

Then my mobile phone unexpectedly rang!

Not anticipating David for company, luckily I had it with me; planning to do little else than peacefully drink some iced tea from a picnic flask and listen on my headphones to the competition of the Eurovision Young Musicians of the Year 2018 on Radio 3. Will this continue post-Brexit? Where will young musicians’ and composers travel grants and their funding come from in future? Do Brexiteers listen to anything other than Land of Hope and Glory? Will they play it from loudspeakers on every lamppost, every morning – like a call to prayer?  Or is that, absurdly, to fear Fascism?

It was Tim! He’s capsized! And could the Safety Boat please come and help him?

How could that happen? Where was he? And, extraordinarily, how did he manage to call me while in the water? Was his i-phone amazingly waterproof? Tim is recognised as a magician of everything electronic, and an expert trader on E-Bay – but this matter was not up for auction. We sped off to find him.

As we came further round the Barnes bend, there was indeed a boat in the water.

But it was not Tim’s overturned Axolotyl, thankfully not embarrassingly displaying a very large and very pink Englishman’s bottom, looking as if it was sun-blushed with too much overexposed backside of flesh on a nudist holiday beach.

No! This was an oyster-white and rather smaller hull at right-angles to the waterline. It was Nick.

And around the bend coming the other way was the RNLI lifeboat at full speed with a huge bow wave and its blue lights rotating. Where were they going – and how were we going to manage the wash as they sped by?

The RNLI stopped by Nick. They were there for him!

Nick was clinging to the bow. As we edged in closer to him the RNLI boat backed off, and went around us in a circle. Were they going to help; or just observe us? David caught Nick’s bow line, while the Safety Boat was gently manoeuvred alongside – and the RNLI man shouted loudly that we should mind out as there was a man in the water; which was very obvious, and was actually the whole point of us being there!

Nick was not saying anything much at all. This was a bit worrying. Was he OK? The step ladder was fixed alongside – and Nick was invited to climb up it. But he couldn’t. He said he couldn’t lift his legs. Was he injured?  He didn’t reply. He said: “You’ll have to lift me out”. I really wondered about the risk of this. What was wrong with his legs – or perhaps even his back? I was suddenly glad the RNLI was there, hovering. This might be a very real emergency. But Nick was trying to float his legs up, parallel to the surface – and he was bending his knees, and kicking the water, so he seemed to be uninjured. But it’s difficult to do anyway. And he was obviously quite exhausted.

So grabbing onto his life jacket and his trousers and with a mighty heave he was brought slithering and sloshing like a large Labrador dog into the Safety Boat. But still he was not saying anything. It seemed to me that he was perhaps in shock. I turned to the RNLI boat and asked if they could take him onboard; telling them also that Nick was hard of hearing – if only to help to justify hitching a lift with them, and saying that the Safety Boat had to catch up with the other sailors. They said they would – and asked where to take him; and I said back to SGSC.

Meanwhile, Michael had very slowly passed us by; virtually un-noticed. So as the RNLI motored off up-river, with Nick safely wrapped up in a thermal blanket, and with his boat tied alongside, the Safety Boast anxiously sped off to find the others.

And immediately, there was James and Lev coming back!

How could they possibly have got all the way down to Hammersmith, and back, against the tide? Was the wind down there that strong? We came alongside and James said they had turned: “at the green buoy” – but without saying which one. And half a mile later we found Tim and Michael were virtually side by side of each other; – and completely becalmed, in the open water just after Barnes Railway Bridge.

And there was a green buoy, against which the tide had turned. This must be it.

And for the next 20 minutes the two of them played a ceaseless game of hide and seek with an Invisible Wind that sometimes appeared to roughen the water with small cat’s paws – always out of reach just two or three boat lengths away – and sometimes within the slack eddies by the river bank under the trees by the bandstand – which solemnly refused to play any water music. But, inch by inch, they crept forward until, with a great tiller-waggling flourish, Tim turned round the buoy. And five minutes later, after showing micrometer judgment and with nano-second fine-timing against the now fast-running tide, Michael turned round the buoy too.

So now then for the easy run home; high-speed assisted with the tide!

Not a bit of it.

For Michael in particular it was totally extraordinary that no matter which way he pointed the boat, it was always going to go head-to-wind a moment or two later.

Again and again Michael crossed the river, searching for a steady wind. But it was invisible. And it was constantly twisting about. A stalling struggle through Barnes Railway Bridge was not helped with the recurring difficulty of controlling the rudder; which kept popping up.

And it was clear that the Invisible Wind that had done for Nick, [and had, apparently, almost brought Tim to grief too, while someone on the bank had seen Nick capsize and had called 999], was blowing in a line from Chiswick Bridge to the White Hart, and it was very much stronger than it appeared. Michael was now in danger of an imminent capsize – which could have been perfectly timed, if it was going to happen, with the leisurely return of the RNLI lifeboat. Do it now, Michael – and get a lift home!

But he persisted with his zigzag course; often stalling, and with his hand on the boom; ineffectively cross-set with the jib that Alice correctly held open, but against the wind.

With the swiftly-rising tide there was now a question of whether he would get under Chiswick Bridge. He had to approach it diagonally to be in the middle of the arch. But he started in the middle, stalled – and so headed straight for the inside of the bridge. It was a pure fluke of the current that at the last moment the boat spun around and he cleared the bridge by going backwards through it, with not an inch to spare.

This was all to exhausting to watch; let alone do!

Back at SGSC around 7pm it was remarkable that the race had taken over two hours – but over only half the distance to Hammersmith.

Ranking with the many quixotic experiences of sailing at Strand it had been both with and against an entirely unpredictable and totally Invisible Wind.

© Andy Ross                                                                                                 19 August 2018

Race Report, 12 August 2018

Race Report, 12 August 2018

Many sailors were away on holiday and the forecast was for a showery afternoon.  Nevertheless James (sailing his Enterprise solo) and Tim (Gull) turned out together with a new member, Jane Watkins, sailing her first race in Lev’s old Gull.

The wind was from the south but very variable in strength and gusty at times.  We set a short A-course with the downstream mark just above the grid and the upstream mark just above the Bell and Crown.

James was in the lead from the start.  He finished his first lap in under 7 minutes and he’d completed another lap before Tim arrived back at the start line.  The big surprise was that Jane, in her first race at Strand and her second time in the Gull, was a mere 15 seconds behind him – an impressive debut which included shipping a lot of water from a near capsize.  Her luck ran out at the upstream mark on the next lap and she found herself in the familiar position of drifting helplessly towards Kew Bridge.  She had to accept David Jones’ offer of help to get her back downstream out of the strong flood tide but carried on to finish another lap on her own.

James finished 7 laps before rain threatened and the race was ended, and Tim struggled in light airs at the downstream mark before completing his fifth lap 20 minutes later.

Thanks to David for looking after the fleet and to Andy for tea and biscuits afterwards.

Next week is a D-course at 1700.

Race results 29 July 2018

Hello sailors.

The Master of Sums is back for a while and here are the results of the last few races.

Many thanks to Nick Floyer for doing the sums in my absence.

There was no race on 29 July: the OOD (Mary), safety boat driver (Chris), Tim Y, Tim W, Henry, Alex and Rob C all turned up, sucked their teeth, shook their heads and decided that top of F4 gusting F7 was too much for fun.

Let’s hope for better weather on  5 August.


Race results 22 July 2018

Race Report
Course – C, start – 10.00 am; wind – light, mostly westerly; weather – warm & sunny; OOD – Chris Greenwood; rescue boat – Steve Newell.
The Berger family made a major contribution to the race with David and Sheila taking Ho Ho Ho for a spin, Mary Berger crewing for James and a host of family members helping to haul out at the end of the race. A hot morning with little wind and a modest tide turned out six dinghies. Hanging on to prevent a false start proved challenging, but the fleet found wind to tack down to Isleworth with James and David having some close quarters contests. At the Isleworth mark James was just ahead of David and Rob Collingwood and John Bull as the second pair, Alex turned slightly later with the wind helping them against the flood tide. Tim was a little later at the buoy, at which time sadly the wind dropped completely and the tide took him down to the London Apprentice steps. The way back to Kew Bridge was a run against the incoming current which only slackened as the leading boats finished. James was first on the water with David and Sheila second, John Bull
third, Rob Collingwood fourth, followed by Alex and Tim.
Chris Greenwood

Race results 15 July 2018

Report #2 by Nick Floyer

We had a really hot afternoon for this race over a very short A course: a Zoffany start line and a downstream buoy short of the grid. The rapidly rising spring tide was a foot above the towpath by the end. An unreliable westerly wind enabled most laps to take under ten minutes, though there was a short period when it blew from the east, and later, reverting to the west, it became quite a useful breeze.
There were three Enterprises sailed single-handed, two Lasers and two “little boats”. All completed at least five laps and James managed eight. Results below.
 Thanks to Inna as OOD and to Andy and David in the safety boat.
 A longer report has been added under the results and pictures.





































































































































































































































































































Race Report: Sunday 15 July 2018: ‘Play-Off’

“Well, Garry”
“I know it’s the play-off of the play-offs. And some teams like London Corinthians
really couldn’t be bothered – preferring to watch France and Croatia on TV, rather
than compete against us. Or maybe watching Wimbledon? And eating strawberries
with cream? And enjoying a glass of cold champagne? But it’s a measure of the true
spirit of the SGSC home team that we’re absolutely determined to work out the rank
order we stand in – even right to the bitter end. Even on the hottest day of the year.
With no wind.
And so it’s a question of facing the old enemy again on home ground with its familiar
tricks of wind and tide. How do you think the team will respond?”
“Well, Garry”,
The truth is it’s an open match; it’s always a game of two halves; there and back
between two buoys. And always the chance of that there’s bit of magic mid-field, the
sudden wind shift that opens things up – and lets the opposition know there’re up
against an experienced side.
How did you think the start went?
“Well, Gary,”
The OOD, Ina, made a really good decision to referee with her very own VOR and a
stopwatch on the Zoffany line; couldn’t be better placed to see the whole action.
And they all went straight across the line all in a row – everyone was charging full-tilt
Except Chris. Maybe it’s because he’s been in the Caribbean League for so long –
and they play with different rules out there; like always heading westward; heading
for the setting sun, determined on adding to a rich suntan. Anyway, he found he was
headed that way for far too long. And he was right at the back; heading for Brentford.
So did the rest of the fleet even get to the downriver buoy, so well placed by David
Jones before the grid – which I noticed was being steered to by a narrow boat! How
did the fleet respond to that potential pitch invasion?
“Well, Gary,”
The truth is, they’ve all seen this downstream buoy before. And they all know how
tricky it is to get far enough up to – and, crucially, beyond it, before even thinking
about a turn round it. But they all did; first James, then Rob, followed by Lev, then
Nick, Alex, and John – and eventually Chris, who had found that without the satnav
and automatic pilot turned on, the tiller actually steered the boat perfectly well.

Even so, did he perform as he usually does at this level – what do you think?
“Well, Gary,”
I have to say that on this occasion he’s out of form. For instance, coming up to the
upstream mark, all he had to do was round the buoy. It was sitting up for him; a
really nice pass. But he took his eye off the ball – and it just bounced into him.
Almost a hand-ball. We thought of holding up a yellow card. But in the nick of time he
performed a 360 degree turn round the buoy – and he was away and clear.
By about the third lap, it seemed that a regular procession had formed; first James,
then Lev, Rob, Alex, John, but with a dramatic move outflanking Nick on the
upstream tack, Chris actually overtook him and, right from the back in seventh
position, he slotted into sixth position!
So how did that look as part of the whole team formation game plan?
“Well, Gary,”
This squad has rehearsed so often their back four formations with the three
Enterprises in a forward position it was really difficult to adjust to an Enterprise at the
rear – and it lead to a very tight battle for the three around the upstream mark on
their fifth lap. An astonishing sliding tackle by Alex against John saw him earn a
corner at the buoy which by two seconds put him in front, and only just behind Rob.
Suddenly shifting to three at the back was a masterstroke. Plaudits are due for what
was one of the biggest factors in reaching this stage of the game; we’ve seen too
often before that sticking to the rigid back four doesn’t play well.
And did the action quicken up after that?
“Well, Gary.”
Absolutely! It brought more pace into the backline. The team were getting into good
crossing passes and set pieces at the buoys. And then a big gust of hot air came in
from nowhere. And suddenly there was pandemonium: real racing started to happen.
A total surprise for everyone!
Lev was completely stunned by an incoming header of wind that momentarily
knocked him over into a near-capsize. He had to think of going through his Long
Distance Race routine of repeated capsizes all over again; which he hadn’t thought
of ever doing again. But the crowd on the bankside terrace were relentless in roaring
encouragement: so he performed his amazing backwards overhead foot kick in the
air, with an all-hands grabbing of the gunwales as the boat heaved sideway – and
the boat hit the buoy. There was a Mexican wave of alarm amongst the crowd as the
boat then hurtled towards the Bell and Crown – saved at the last moment with a
dramatic 360 degree turn, and he managed to return to the buoy. It’s exactly the
magical kind of shot we expect from him.
So how was the overall finishing; did it live up to expectations?
“Well Gary,”

At this level, you have to expect real quality. And I have to say that James performed
exceptionally well. His eight laps, and his lapping of both Lev, and Rob – who, it
must be said, performed so consistently well in their second and third position
respectively throughout the entire race, finishing with seven laps each, shows that
this is a team that can really go far in future.
And I also think it’s fair to say that team SGSC has created an identity which gives
them a platform to get their game into higher positions. Their distribution across the
pitch has been good. And they have risen to the occasion. So long as they are
respectful of their mid-field discipline and they close down the other side fairly and
properly, these lads have a chance to make history.
So what of the future, how do you see the team developing?
“Well, Gary,”
It’s a case of Nominative Determinism. It’s the hypothesis that people tend to
gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names with a focus on causality.
You’ve heard of the urology researchers named Dr Splatt and Dr Weedon? And
there’s a Professor Kneebone at Imperial College. Has anyone ever met a Mr Sailor?
Well, they’ve actually got a Tim Young on the team. And although he was out on the
subs bench today and not called up in today’s game he’s clearly in the new young
generation up-and-coming squad. We’ve seen how Lev can levitate that boat! And
there’s the amazing flyer down the wing [Floyer], and the ever challenging raging
Bull that any team needs to be very beware of. Greenwood is such an experienced
and flexible and resilient fellow to bend an arrow with, while Adams genuinely
testifies his originality and authenticity and Pape adds that papal air of lofty certainty
and clarity of direction that really makes the difference – and it all clearly works well
with the wise and wily Armitage, coming out from his hermitage beside the river.
So when is the next match with Corinthian’s?
“Well, Gary”,
Sailing’s not coming home to Strand. That’s for sure. At the end of the day, many
players would have just buckled under the heat and stress. But SGSC has done the
country proud today. When they had to perform they gave their all. They did their
best. Give them their due; they kept their discipline, and their good manners. The
team held together like a tight-fitting waistcoat, not to be undone by a fickle wind and
tide. And they all know that the game is bigger than the team – and it’s a shared
belief in the spirit of the game that matters when it comes to overcoming decades of
hurt and disappointment, often against serious opposition. It’s fair to say that they
were competing today against an opposition from time to time was full of hot wind
and strong currents, but just as the Prime Minister says; what matters is not just the
taking part – but having a united determination of winning with a commitment to a
Common Rule Book.
So, Corinthian’s, you’d better look out! Serious negotiations are going to begin!
© Andy Ross

Race results 8 July 2018


This points race was sailed in memory of Kurt Berger. Big Polly was sailed by Dave Berger and his mother Margaret. Other crews were: Comma – Andy R and Enoch R; Ho Ho Ho – Chris G and Mary S; Blue Angel – Lev K; Ellie – John B; Backwash – Ian N; Axolotl – Tim Y. Thanks to Chris Jones for acting as OOD while manning the safety boat.

A full report has been added under the report.



What connects the six forward-facing 6-inch guns of HMS Belfast with SGSC and the
‘C’ course to Isleworth on a sunny and windless Sunday morning?
The answer is Kurt and Margaret Berger, 10 miles, and crucially, going backwards
under Kew Bridge.
It was Kurt who had confidently explained to Andy Ross, a newly arrived member of
the club, that quite the most delightful sailing that he and Margaret had ever enjoyed
was the ‘C’ course to Isleworth and back. Emboldened with this, your writer had
invited a prospective girl-friend at a Saturday night party to join him “on his yacht on
the Thames” for a Sunday morning sail. The following morning she actually turned
up; but rather splendidly over-dressed – and, importantly, much later than agreed.
It was a hot and windless day. The leisurely drift up to the bridge; settling in, chatting
about the night before, exchanging stories, went ever so smoothly. But approaching
Kew Bridge an apprehension that all was not well began to be felt. The arch looked
awfully low. And there was simply no way of steering the boat in the grip of the
current: Comma clattered into the roof of the bridge. The top of the mast wedged in
the brickwork. The boat slowly turned sideways with the hull braced against the flow
of the river; – and, luckily or else the mast would have snapped; over we went.
Without us, the boat released itself and we drifted out sideways under the bridge,
clinging onto the hull.
“How did you do that” asked a booming voice. It was Sir Richard Branson. He was
on a 16-person speedboat rib. He and a guy named John Evans, his Events
Director. They brought us alongside and we moored up at the pontoons at the Kew
jetty – and I began to bale the boat out; while the girlfriend immediately and very
gratefully got on board the rib.
It turned out that they were prospecting the idea John had for a limousine service
bringing 1 st Class passengers from Heathrow down to Brentford Dock – for a high
speed rib journey down to the Tower of London.
John was quite a character. He’d got himself into the SAS by climbing up the anchor
chain of HMS Belfast at night; breaking into the bridge, jumping-starting the ignition
key, opening up the Fire Control Table – and finding he had access to the optical
range finder which enabled mechanical targeting of the guns at 45 degrees with a
radius of exactly 10 miles: Kew Bridge. He got on the radio to a [no doubt extremely
surprised] telephone operator at the Ministry of Defence – and said he would launch
a barrage of 112lb shells – unless they recruited him into the SAS. Which they did.
Sufficiently dried off, and baled out – and well-lubricated with a bottle of champagne
inside us, and with two more bottles “to be stowed onboard for ballast”; together with
invitations to the limousine launch event to be held on HMS Belfast; we got back
onboard. I have to say, the girlfriend, very uncharitably, showed extreme reluctance
at the prospect of resuming the ‘C’ course, with me.

So it was, yesterday, that with Enoch on boat as crew [sadly not even remotely
pretending to be a girlfriend] we set off early – so as to get under Kew Bridge in time;
which we did, and we drew up alongside the very same Kew pontoon jetty.
Next to arrive were David Berger – and Margaret – remarkably and very
appropriately on a memorial cruise in memory of Kurt and their affection for the ‘C’
course; on a warm and balmy day for such a leisurely sail – and with an object lesson
in how to negotiate Kew Bridge.
With Chris Jones on the Safety Boat, the technique is to ensure the line-up to the
centre arch is established at least 100 metres beforehand. And for the Safety Boat to
be in reverse position with regard to the run of the current; i.e. facing the incoming
tide – with the engine idling in forward gear.
Then, with the sailing boat alongside facing forward going upstream with full sail up,
the helm can step onto the Safety Boat, heel the boat over with the side stay – and
together let the river slowly carry the pair under the bridge. Everyone can see where
they are, what they are doing; and the driver has full control. The trick is going
backward under Kew Bridge; and the right way up!
Soon we were joined by Chris Greenwood and Mary Short, then John Bull, Tim, Lev
and Ian; and we all moored somewhat insecurely alongside the houseboats; until
Chris decided everyone was impatient to go – and we set off with a start at 09.46.
With only the odd puff of wind everyone was still all together at Brentford Dock;
surprisingly all able to have a sociable chat with each other along the way. Dave,
who had been last to leave, joining us with the comment that:
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen”.
[Matthew 20:16 King James Version]
And that provoked Enoch to say that, in rummaging through the attic of his house in
St Albans he’d come across many fragments of some really old letters. Amazingly,
they appeared to be letters in reply to St. Paul’s letters in the New Testament. He
had written so many – but none of them seem to have ever been answered by
anyone. Were these they?
What did they say? One apparently read like this:
“My proper pukka mate Paul,
What a really great fast food pop-up event you staged last week. Those loaves and
fishes; what a brilliant concept! That Italian friend of yours, Carluccio, he’s really got
talent. Nothing fancy. Dead cheap ingredients. Sardines out of the sea. Coated in
olive oil and salt and pepper. Then rolled in your own Paul’s bakery breadcrumbs,
sun-dried leftovers from yesterday’s loaf baking, sprinkled with oregano, flash-fried
on the embers of the seashore bonfire; and when they’re golden and crispy – they’re
done! A sprinkle of lemon juice and you’ve got something not just to feed the 5,000
but, think big, the whole Mediterranean! If you’re expanding the franchise you need
to ditch Paul & Antonio; it’s too gay. If you’re taking it to France, go for something
that’s ready to eat; how does Prêt a Manger sound in French? Yours, Jamie.

As the Safety Boat toddled along behind the fleet there was some discussion on
whether we’d actually get to a buoy up at Isleworth, or to drop it early? Eventually it
was thought the line of the concrete wall by the church would do. The wind was
giving no-one any particular advantage. And so the whole fleet converged, almost
simultaneously, on the buoy.
It appeared that Ian was the first round – evidenced in his whoop of pleasure, with a
scramble and some bumping as everyone else jostled about it.
Except Tim. It was as if his boat had a bloodhounds’ instinct for its normal
destination of the bar at the London Apprentice – and it headed straight on up there
for a pint, despite Tim’s urgent tiller-waggling to tell it that was totally wrong.
Heading into the North bank and the easier current, everyone got stuck on the still-
incoming tide with a minimal wind. Easing out to gain some water, only to be swept
back – then easing out again; only for the sequence to be repeated.
Chris in the lead, and then Dave, tried out the opposite bank. But the effort to get
there produced no obvious difference in distance gained.
Ian found his lead was completely lost as he got caught in an eddy by the bank and
then found himself enshrouded in long lines of willow tree branches. His frustration
grew noticeably in strength and temper even to the point where it was thought he
might very volubly suddenly employ the crudely horrible scatological language of the
ex-Foreign Secretary; much like his reputation now is in: “polishing a tree”. But no.
It so happens that a photograph was taken of this moment. A picture was taken by
someone on the Kew riverbank of the line of three boats against the Syon Park
woodland; John Bull’s white sail, Andy and Enoch’s blue sail, Ian’s translucent sail –
which was the picture shown on BBC 1 throughout the evening on the day’s weather
forecast to illustrate the calm and peaceful river side setting of the hottest day of the
year. Little did the picture-taker – or, of course, the millions watching, actually know!
Rather like a long line of dough being rolled out into a baguette, and separated into
batons to be baked in the oven, so the fleet gradually dispersed as the tide eased
and the wind picked up.
And another fragment of the letters to St Paul came to mind:
“Dear Paul,
Good to hear about your plan to go to Rome. Now then, regarding that fiasco in the
temple last month when your friend Jesus tipped over all the money-changers’ tables
in the crypt, which I had to sort out. It caused all sorts of trouble; runs on the
currencies with them spilling everywhere. Thing is; these guys are making a fortune
on the margins. What we need is a simpler system; something I’m calling a common
market currency. Do away with all this ridiculous waste of precious metal. We need
a standard for everyone to make money on. The Romans won’t like it. They always
want to monopolise everything. And the Greeks won’t even have a bath unless they
can get the drugs and the illegal migrant money without paying any tax. What we

need is your clever idea of a temple crypt currency: a crypto-currency for short.
Look, I’m sending you a bag-load of all these old currency coins I swept up from the
floor on the next ship to Rome. I want to buy into your faith idea. I want you to buy a
really big building in Rome; by all means call it a church if you wish [I think cathedral
sounds better] – and stick your name above the door. On the dome is even better
Money is all about faith. I met this Anglo fellow the other day; said he was from the
City of London [never heard of it] – and, of course, he didn’t speak any Arabic. But
what he did say was “My word is my bond”. I like that! I think that’s good enough to
trade with him; you could even set up a ‘bond market’ – with good faith on all sides,
of course. If you find the right building I think we can go global with this: “faith in
banking idea”; might even call it Yes-we-can / Bankican / Vatican? I’ll make you
Managing Director. How does that work for you? Let me know what you think when
you get to Rome. Do please look after my money and send me regular accounts.
Yours Jacob
As the fleet neared the finishing line there still wasn’t much in it between everyone.
Chris acting as both OOD and Safety Boat operator blew the whistle as they crossed
the line and came round to moor in together alongside the Kew pontoon barges.
One by one, the same reverse guidance technique of pairing a forward-facing sailing
boat with an up-stream facing Safety Boat enabled the passage under the bridge,
drifting very slowly with a high tide still flowing quickly, to be completed safely.
Comma dropped her sails completely, which were scarcely needed anyway in the
faint wind – and glided under this potentially traumatic bridge, and paddled home.
Meanwhile Enoch recalled another fragment found amongst the long-lost replies to
St Paul; though it probably will need Mary Short, just returned from a month-long
Ramadan experience in Jordan, to provide the exactly right Arabic translation. But it
seemed to read something like this:
“Hi there Paul,
Great to see you at the bunga-bunga boat party last weekend. Wasn’t it amazing!
Those girls from Ephesus are absolute stunners aren’t they? No wonder you were so
shocked: seeing something you shouldn’t have! That’s my kind of party! And I really
liked your expression: “God blind me!” I’m going to use it to publicize the next event.
I’ll add some pretty graphic descriptions on page three to go with the headline: “Cor
blimey!” Really hope you can come. I’m hoping a new guy I’ve heard of called
Donald will show up too; sounds like he’s a bit of a party animal too, just like you! It’s
an open-shorts invitation. No need for another long letter. Just drop me a note if
you’re coming to say: “Me Too!”
Cheers Silvio
And so the boats were safely tucked up tight in their beds, though without tea, or
champagne, after a memorable – and a memorial – ‘C’ course.
© Andy Ross


Race results, 01 July 2018 – Long Distance


            Elapsed Corrected
Helm    Class  PN   Time   Time  Position
Tim Y   Gull  1363  3:57   2:54   1st
Alex P  14ft  1170  3:41   3:09   2nd
Lev K   Ent   1091  4:33   4:10   3rd*
*technically disqualified, having not quite reached Battersea Rly Br

RACE REPORT: Long Distance. 1 July 2018

“And now the shipping forecast for inshore waters:
Gibraltar Point to North Foreland: Another sweltering hot and steamy day, folks, so
go easy on the cold lagers, at least until the Croatia v Denmark kick-off at 7.00pm
when you can crack open the Carlsberg….and especially leave plenty of room for
Stand on the Green sailors zigzagging around on the Thames in the sunshine during
another baking hot day; everyone knows they’re totally mad, so leave them to it.”
Lev was first to arrive. Keen to go, he’d been uncovering his boat practically at dawn.
Then Alex, limbering up in super zany blue and white Hawaiian shorts and crocs.
Finally Tim, cycling in with a flourish and tales of having been up at 4.00am the day
before for a whole day sailing on a tug from Brentford to Greenwich and back. No
sign of Michael who had said he’d sail. John Bull turned up, as did James, and they
kindly assisted everyone getting ready; despite already sweating in the heat.
Boats were trundled down across a sticky brown foreshore; the river had had no
fresh rain in it for three weeks and so the agricultural run-off of farming fertiliser from
farmland up-stream had been sinking undiluted into ditches and small streams;
loading the foreshore with nutrients and producing mats of algal sludge.
The odd puff of wind was just that. James was quizzed about the timing of a start:
‘Some time after 10.00am – so as to get to Battersea railway bridge just on the turn
of the tide – about 12.00pm.’ But the general opinion was that around 10.15am
would be about right. So Tim set off; and meandered around aimlessly in no wind
until he drifted listlessly under the railway bridge and was recorded by the OOD as
having officially started at 10.09am.
Alex followed at 10.19. And finally Lev, sailing his newly-rigged and restored
Enterprise single-handed, passed under the bridge at 10.21am.
There was a bit of a breeze; oddly from the North, but enough to send everyone
down to Chiswick steps which Tim reached at 10.25, Alex at 10.35 and Lev at 10.45;
all at the same 10-minute interval from the start.
But, in a sign of things to come, a sudden flip of the wind caught Lev sideways – and
he was at 60 degrees for a dramatic moment. Calm was restored and he drifted
under Chiswick Bridge into a pool of plain, silver-smooth water.
By Barnes railway bridge Tim was out of sight, but Alex was easing his way round
towards Corney Reach while Lev cleared the bridge at 11.05.
The majestic long line of twenty tall black poplars at Corney Reach arched over their
tops; there was a bit of wind up there. And by Pissarro’s [now sadly defunct, with its
brand name letters askew] a sprightly new breeze from the East was encouraging
the thought of better sailing.
The sign post at the end of Chiswick Ait indicating the headroom at Hammersmith
Bridge showed there was 6m clearance; easily enough for us.

At Corinthians, Tim was still out of sight but Alex passed the LCSC signal box at
11.07 and Lev at 11.17 – still exactly a 10 minute gap between them. Oddly, there
was not a single other boat to be seen anywhere on the river; no rowers, sailors or
motor boats. Where was everyone? Unbuttoning lagers?
Under Hammersmith Bridge and along to the Harrods Furniture Depository [or the
Oligarch’s Suppository, as it’s unkindly known] all three boats were back in sight; Tim
down by Fulham Football Club, Alex at SBSC – while Lev was plugging up the rear,
so to speak.
The time between the three began to tighten. Tim passed under Putney Bridge at
11.40 followed by Alex at 11.45 – and Lev at 11.50; each now at five minute
intervals. Was Tim slowing down? Or Lev catching up – or both? The wind was
freshening to a steady Easterly.
The whole character of the River Thames changes at Putney bridge.
To start with, it has 16 CCTV cameras on it; covering all arches, both sides.
Suddenly the GDP of London becomes much more obvious. The buildings are
bigger and make important statements about their presence. Tiered and set-back,
they rise up in geological layers; stratification of wealth and ownership, overlooking
Wandsworth Park and Hurlingham Gardens.
And with the architectural grandeur came an even stronger hot wind. Stiffening
breezes from the East were making waves – and arriving in unexpectedly big gusts.
It was at Wandsworth Bridge that the dramatic action began.
Tim passed through exactly on 12.00 noon. Alex was through at 12.04.
But Lev, still upstream and right beside the Wandle river as it tried its best to add
some fresh water to the turgid Thames, spun around in a gust and heeled over into a
capsize. Thus he found himself carried under and through the bridge; fortunately
without any traffic about. Easing himself onboard he found that in the stiff wind it was
just about possible to make sufficient speed for the self-balers to begin to gurgle
away – and he resumed the race – though still noticeably low in the water.
Battersea Bridge was then in sight!
Rather as the Hubble telescope observes the passing of exoplanets across a distant
sun, seen by the dimming of the light they cause, so the sails of Tim, and then Alex,
darkened from white to grey in the shadow of the bridge – and then lightened again –
only to darken once more, and return to white as they re-emerged, having turned
around and come back. Tim went dark at 12.06 – and returned to white at 12.08.
Alex went dark at 12.20 – and returned to white at 12.21.
Lev, meanwhile, was held in a slowly becalming arena of water around Plantation
Wharf; beside the stacks of apartments like ocean liners, even with white balconies
looking like empty lifeboats strung alongside. The reed beds on the embankment
were being gently ruffled; but without much to indicate which way to bend in the light
and fickle wind.

Stories of Lev’s capsize were exchanged as Tim and Alex passed by. But now the
real race was on to see if Lev could get to the bridge in the face of the turning tide.
Firstly he attacked the south bank. Tacking to and fro in the gentler tide by the side
of the Battersea heliport he inched his way forward, only to find that the shadow of
the buildings was blocking the little wind. So he went into the mid-channel. Only to
find the ‘Cockney Sparrow’ was jauntily steaming down river towards him, with no
intention of giving way to the intruder on his [her?] territory. Back to the south bank.
From 100m back the OOD observed, firstly, the Overground train going north to
Willesden. And then a hugely-long freight train went the other way to Clapham
Junction. After a while, another Overground train followed to Clapham. The Sunday
timetable is a relatively relaxed affair. How many more would come and go before
Lev got to the bridge?
Significantly, the level of fuel in the tank was hovering down to minimal. And it was
with great relief that the OOD thanked John Bull who, despite the OOD having
assured him that he was quite certain there was more than enough fuel for the
journey had, nonetheless, wise virgin keeper of the oil lamp that he proved to be,
tucked in a small can in reserve. It was glugged in.
There was then a difficult conundrum for the OOD to ponder: whether to go and ask
Lev what he intended to do? On the one hand, Tim and Alex had long gone and
were probably sailing happily together. The obvious priority was to stay with Lev.
But in asking what he wanted to do would be rather like asking Schrodinger’s cat if
it’s alive or dead – the question itself would make the difference. And it was clear
that Lev was engaged in a Nietzschean existential battle; overcoming nihilism with
insight into the meaning of life though positive engagement with difficulty as a
personal triumph of the will. He crossed the river again; just 20m from the bridge.
The Battersea Heliport windsock hung like an elephant’s trunk.
But what was that noise: a clattering in the distance – and a helicopter coming into
land! Would the downdraft blow him through the bridge? Alas no. And five minutes
later, it took off again – doing its best to send a flurry of wind his way. But there was
no way against the water.
At 13.25 the game was over for Lev. Human willpower cannot contradict nature.
Turning into the main channel he picked up the current and shot away.
But no sooner than Wandsworth bridge had come in sight when a big gust of
following wind spun Lev round – and into another capsize: No. 2. This time, the OOD
felt it was appropriate to ask if he’d had enough? No way! He was baling out and
baling out – and carrying on!
And then capsize No. 3, at Putney road bridge – with, no doubt, the operator of the
16 CCTV cameras watching the drama.
Capsize No. 4 was at Fulham football stadium. And it was the same syndrome. Not
helped with jugloads of water sloshing around in the bowels of the boat, it seemed

that as the wind bore down on the mainsail it couldn’t accelerate the sluggish boat
speed; so the centreboard acted like a plane wing lifting and tilting further and faster.
Capsize No 5 was at The Dove.
By this time Lev was sailing in a well-filled bathtub with loads of warm water and
plenty of soapy suds [Sustainable Urban Drainage System] for company, but not
really something to relax into and enjoy. There was, in addition, the distinct smell of
rotting seaweed in the air – a fragrant reminder that the incoming tide was bringing
back up the presence of the sea.
Capsize No 6 was at Corney Reach.
This time, the event was watched by the passengers on the packed-out Princess
Rose, going upriver, The captain decided not to overtake him and hooted four times
– and all the passengers applauded as Lev eased himself back onboard like a seal
hauling itself onto a sandbank.
Lev eventually crossed the finishing line at the railway bridge at 14.54; after some 4
hours and 33 minutes of gruelling sailing in broiling heat.
Alex [who had finished at 14.00] had taken 3 hours 41 minutes.
Tim [who had finished at 14.06] had taken 3 hours 57 minutes.
Alex and Tim had very kindly waited for everyone to return and it was much
appreciated that they helped to bring all the boats and gear ashore – and to share
their stories of the Long Distance Race.
Andy Ross
1 July 2018

Race results 24 June 2018

Race Report

This was a sunny Sunday morning race, with a good turnout of eight boats. The light, fickle and fading wind was just sufficient, most of the time, to enable headway against the flood tide – it was three days before full moon and top of springs, and with no recent rainwater coming down the river. This report is based on an interpretation of Inna’s immaculate race sheet.

James (Ent) raced ahead in his usual style. Apart from Tim (Gull), who retired after three laps, and Andy (Ent) who completed five, it was close race over the first six laps for the other five boats. At that point, James was close behind finishing his eighth lap, and the whistle was blown to finish the race, leaving the others to complete their seventh. This took Ian (Vibe) and David (Solo) nearly quarter of an hour, Rob (Laser) rather longer, and John (Laser) and Alex (14ft) in a dead heat longer still.

Many thanks to Lev and Inna, who between them organised the race, manned the safety boat, and recorded the results.

Nick Floyer, the man who was not there

Some correction to the report of the man who was not there:

David was in the safety boat. (Thank you!)
David Berger was racing and testing Tim’s solo.
Andy was the first to get to first buoy but lost to James at the second down the river one.
Lev actually was crewing for James.
Most boat were got stuck close to OOD trying to sail down the river.
The rumour says Andy did not wear life jacket. 🙂

Race Results