Seven sailors arrived, eager to
rig their dinghies on this breezy Sunday afternoon. After launching
three more sailors joined, Chris & Mary, Distant Thunder and Sam SY2.
A long “A” course was
set with the buoys being laid up stream of the Bell and Crown and just off the City
Barge by Chris Jones in the safety boat.
The scheduled Start of 14.15 was
delayed for Chris & Mary and Sam to get to the start line. Chris &
Mary managed to make the start line but Sam joined after the start on lap 2.
wind gusting 3-4 in a general WSW direction, a good start was made by all with the fleet
bunching at the first buoy. James with his crew Ayanda rounded first, followed
by Rob and Lev. Not far behind the others all rounded the buoy successfully.
lap showed the same leadership pattern, with the gusting wind causing a great
uncontrolled listing and Lev in his Enterprise capsized off Oliver’s Island.
Lev being Lev quickly righting and continuing to sail plus
bailing with his trusty bailer.
Tim had the misfortune to be swept onto the buoy at the Bell and Crown.
The leading dinghies were now
lapping at about 10 minutes per lap and generally keeping to the Strand
side of the trot. However, others tried crossing over to the Kew side of the
trot to have a fast reach to the Bell and Crown buoy. On some laps this appeared
to gain ground on the leading dinghies.
continued with James and Rob lapping at about 8 minutes and eventually
finishing 7 LAPS. Lev, Alex and Ian finishing within 28 seconds of each other at 6
LAPS and Henry & Mary and Chris & Mary 4 minutes behind, also
on 6 LAPS.
Tim and Sam completed 5 LAPS.
Many thanks to Chris for manning the safety
boat single handed, not easy. This was a testing race, with strong gusts
of variable wind typically “STRAND”.
Sunday was a sunny day with a good F3 wind coming straight
up the river from Chiswick Bridge, against the river flow. A high-water race being out of the question a
D-course had been programmed (downstream to Hammersmith and back), , but Rob
Adams, who was in charge of the safety boat, wisely decided that we should sail
as many laps as possible of our B-course, between the Railway Bridge and
Chiswick Bridge, so that he could keep all the fleet in sight. The Covid-19 constraints were a consideration.
The downstream mark was set well down
towards Chiswick Bridge opposite Putney Rowing Club and the upstream mark was
just below the Railway Bridge.
Most of the fleet set off on time with the Browns a few
minutes late (lack of concentration) and Nick Floyer (Lightning) even later
with rigging problems. The beat down to
Chiswick Bridge favoured the Enterprises and James and Lev (both solo in their
Ents) established a lead which they maintained throughout. Chris and Mary (Leader), Ian (Vibe) and Alex (lugger)
formed a following pack at the bottom mark by which time the Browns (Ent) had
worked their way up through the fleet.
They kept in close company on the way back up river where Alex’s lugger
showed its paces on the run and Ian tried to intimidate the rest by flying a
spinnaker. He had already tried more
direct intimidation over a sculler – or perhaps it was the other way round. There was a seeming multitude of scullers and
paddle-boarders enjoying the river and adding to the excitement of tacking.
At the end of the first lap James was about 3 minutes ahead
of Lev with the two crewed Ents, Alex and Ian within a minute of each other and
two minutes behind Lev. Jane in her Gull
was another two minutes behind with Tim (Gull) to the rear. Nick had already retired by this stage and
Tim was shortly to follow.
The second and final lap was much the same. James increased his lead over Lev to 7
minutes who maintained his 2 minute lead over the rest, although he was almost
caught around the bottom mark. The
Browns were a whisker ahead of Chris and Mary (Leader) at the end, Alex and Ian
followed 2 minutes later with Jane bringing up the rear.
When the handicap sums were done Jane was shown to have
triumphed in the Handicap Series and the Little Boats cup. Well done to her. And James was first in the Big Boats and the
The race was the fun part with excellent sailing throughout:
close tacking battles, nail-biting stuff on the runs, wearing times for the
centre-board. The hard work then took over with the recovery of 9 dinghies and
the safety boat up the slimy foreshore, up the ramp and into the yard. Without, in these plague-ridden times, the
consolation of tea and buns.
Many thanks to Heather Adams for officiating over the race
and to Rob for ensuring our safety.
Next week’s race is and A-course at 15:10. Let’s hope for similar conditions.
A handful of
sailors turned out for what was scheduled to be a D course on blustery day.
After some deliberations, an altered B-course was selected, downstream to a
rowing buoy mid stream just past the pier, and then upstream under the railway
bridge to a racing buoy set just before Oliver’s Island. Start was by whistle
only on this occasion and all got under way without problems and were close
together for most of lap 1. James started to pull away thereafter, however Lev
and Ian picked up the pace and stayed on the same lap for most of the race.
Chris and Mary pulled up after the first lap for some bailing and re-joined
after fixes. Jane had a capsize just before the mark on Lap 2, righted the boat
and recovered to the rowing club, and soon after re-joined the racing. Lev had
a capsize by the upstream mark late on and completed the final lap sitting very
low in the water despite furious bailing. Leader James completed 9 laps in just
over the hour, and the remainder of the pack followed soon after. Lev and Ian
completed 8 laps, Chris 7 laps, and Jane 3.
All boats and kit were launched and recovered socially distanced and
with masks in club colours (kindly provided by Jane) donned.
Ten swans were there.
With huge good grace and unhurried calm on seeing the gates of the SGSC
opening and envisioning the prospect of social competition for admiration and
attention they headed in a line for the opposite bank: upper class social
distancing by the true aristocrats of birds. Some swifts like black dots on a
blue sky screeched by. Two moorhens hooted like journalists with urgent
headlines reporting a story of great importance and they made way in turn for a
random mob of Canada geese who had heard the news and gathered just to gaze and
guffaw in honks of laughter at the odd sight of SGSC boats trundling down the
ramp – and at the even odder sight of sailors in Covid-19 face masks.
Alex in a cowboy movie bandana, ready to ride out of
town on a raid, Lev in a ghoulishly tooth-fanged Halloween mask [surely pinching
David’s party trick] and Sam was unbelievably pretending to be as innocently
white-faced as the driven snow on a summers day while Rob wore something red
and Andy swore by a heavy duty builders demolition rubble and dust choker, complete
with a nose valve. James realised he was not at all suitably dressed for this
fancy dress party and came back in a fetchingly backless spaghetti-strap little
black dress number.
Covid-19 is making the bizarre and impossible quite
normal and no one is used to it.
Neither are the boats. Nor are its sailors. Lev had
taken over the duty as Safety Boat officer from Tim while being in
self-isolation. Lev’s boat was upside down but with immaculate external repairs
while Andy’s was fighting acute and chronic internal rot with more and more patchwork.
Sam tangled his mast in the tree and while commenting that the heavy gusts were
not encouraging, discovered a shorn-off part of the gooseneck – which he took
as a recipe for cooking his boating goose into an early lunch retirement. And the safety boat trailer wheel had a flat
tyre; requiring the urgent life-saving attention of a mechanical ventilator. Nurses
in PPE then wheeled the trolley patient down the ramp to recuperate and recover
in the water. No-one clapped.
The warm F3 wind came fitfully but directly from the
North-West; perfect for a really long straight ‘A’ course.
As the OOD set up the start at the Bell & Crown he
discovered that Covid-19 had struck the scoreboard pen into mute. No transmission of ink to paper! Unmute your
mike! But no amount of empty scribbling would work to fix the bug. There was nothing
for it but to abandon the call and zoom off back to the club to get another
pen. An aural and video sign was signalled to Lev on the Safety Boat to inform
him of the delay.
Hurrying back, the Blue Peter was raised for the
6-minute start – but without using a trumpet or a whistle that would potentially
blast corona virus into the atmosphere for miles around and prolong the
lockdown of the whole of Britain. Can the squeezy rubber ball for the acoustic
hooter ever be replaced?
A brisk and gusty warm wind sent first Alex, then Rob,
then James downstream and within three minutes they were more or less together
at the mark that was set just off the City Barge. After rounding it, James took the lead and
headed across the end of the PLA trot into the mainstream of the river and
stayed close to the punts before crossing to the upstream mark, reaching it
only just ahead of Alex. Both Alex and
Rob had stayed on the Strand side of the trot.
Only the tricycle ice-cream seller had a socially
distanced queue that could silently watch the gybes round the mark.
Goose-winged, James flew down the Strand side but Alex
found he was caught in the slacker wind by the bank and Rob overtook him.
After rounding the mark and coming back upstream,
James decided not to risk heading across into the mainstream again but tacked into
the wind on the Stand side of the trot.
It seems that as the incoming tide reaches a certain
volume its momentum carries it through the railway bridge and on around the
bend in the river, away the main traffic route; towards the Strand rather than
towards Kew bridge. The wind was perfect for a classic “Round the Island” race
but the slackness of the current on the other side of Oliver’s Ait usually also
makes it dangerous to manoeuvre with the constant traffic of rowers and
passenger boats. But with a totally empty river, this would have been a perfect
day for a “Round the Island”. The OOD
regretted not suggesting it.
By the third lap Rob had secured his second place lead
over Alex who, by the fourth lap and in a slackening wind and an imminent high
tide, was being tailed by James.
Gybing fast round the upstream mark James lapped Alex
– and James asked the OOD if this might be the moment to signal the end of the
Since they had all been sailing for well over an hour while the ODD starting technology was zoom-meeting muted this was clearly appropriate.
The Blue Peter was raised – and lowered.
The sky was so blue – while no planes flew.
A Covid-19 race had ended – and no tea was brewed.
On Sunday late afternoon, on the 17th
May, three Crews gathered for our first sail under social distancing
regulations. It was a warm sunny afternoon with a light North Westerly. It was
decided to change the scheduled D course to a short course between the pier at
the East end of Strand on the Green and the rowing marker buoy on the Surrey
side at the downstream end of the Island. This could safely be sailed without
having to launch the rescue boat. Rob Adams our officer of the day set the
starting line on the upstream face of the railway bridge with an upstream start
against the wind and current.
Down at the bottom of the river bed, the
wind was erratic and the shallowness of the water was a constant challenge to
our centre plates, but it was great to be back on the water. Porpoise crewed by
James led the way, Distant Thunder crewed by Chris and Mary followed and SY2
crewed by Sam was third on the water. He
was struck by a doldrum below Strand End and self-towed along the foreshore
back to the ramp.
Successfully hauling the boats back up to
the arch was the final challenge for the afternoon.
The next sail/race is an A-course, start 15:10 on Sunday 24 May. See you there – at a safe distance!
Not for the first time the First Race was more a whimper than a bang, or even a splash. A handful of helms took stock of the conditions, which were gusty and threatening with rain (the Met office said it was F4-5, gusting F5-6 from WSW at Kew), and all but James decided not to launch. Lev was keen to get on the water and so crewed with James for a couple of laps from the ramp up to the Bell and Crown and back, but on the third pass the threatened rain swept in and they retreated to the arch. But the honour of the Club was saved.
Next week there is no race.
Only a D-course is possible, and a rowing event means that the river
downstream of Chiswick Bridge will be closed by the PLA. But there will be a working party to do
Sunday was a lovely sunny autumn day. All it lacked was a steady sailing wind. But then this is Strand on the Green. The incoming tide was almost swamped by the flow of rainwater coming down the river, which meant that there was little or no beach for rigging the boats. And the rigging was interrupted by the two-minutes silence, orchestrated by Tim on the starting horn.
Eight boats turned out for short A-course from the Zoffany start line, with an upstream buoy opposite the Bell and Crown and the downstream buoy below the grid. Once Jane and Tim had disentangled themselves from the bank all the boats got away without recalls, and had a sort-of run downstream driven by a fickle wind with quite a lot of north in it. Making the downstream mark was quite a struggle for the little boats but the Laser, Enterprises, Leader and Alex’s lugger managed to keep going pretty well.
Rob Adams in his Laser was first around the downstream mark and was well up the course before the Browns in their Enterprise, followed by Lev Kolobov (solo in Enterprise), Alex and Chris Greenwood (with Mary in the Leader) got around for the beat back upstream.
Rob was almost 2 minutes ahead of the Browns and Lev on the first lap; on the second lap he was followed by Alex and then the Browns, who then overtook Alex and maintained second place with Lev in close pursuit. At the end of five laps Rob was 9 minutes ahead of the Browns with Alex and Lev within two minutes astern.
The shifty wind on the downwind leg caused Chris and Ian to complete only four laps with the two Gulls, Tim and Jane, both doing three laps.
After the handicap sums were done Rob was the clear winner with Alex in second place followed by the Browns.
Mary Short got back to the arch in time to fire-up the barbeque and cook some very spicey sausages. Sam, who manned the safety boat, had orchestrated the classic Beer and Bangers feast with home-brew beer, as usual, courtesy of Steve Newell and a variety of other treats from sundry members.
So that was the end of the 2019 season. What will we do with Sundays in the coming bleak winter days?
It was, I am told, a quiet day on the river, one for contemplation and the exercise of patience on a two and a half hour D-course.
Five boats set off on the augmented drift and all finished within 10 minutes of each other. First was Ian Nethersell, very pleased with having flown his spinnaker and having overtaken Nick Floyer in the closing stages. He led by four minutes with Lev Kolobov about 3 minutes behind Nick. Chris Greenwood was fourth in the Leader 2 minutes later, and finally after another 2 minutes there was Sam Shemtob in his Wayfarer.
The handicap sums almost reversed the finishing order in the Handicap points with Sam then Nick then Chris. But the finishing order was restored in the Big Boats ( Lev then Chris then Sam); Ian then Nick in the Little Boats points; and in the Polly Prize (Ian then Nick then Chris).
After some really nasty weather during the week it was a great relief that Sunday came as a perfect autumn day – sunshine, autumn colour starting to appear in the trees, and a gentle 6-7 mph wind from the north west.
Seven boats started on an A-course a bit further downstream than usual, starting at the Zoffany House short A-course line but with the downstream buoy outside the City Barge. The north west breeze was straight down the river and gave a run all the way down and a beat back to the Bell and Crown.
The two Lasers (Rob Adams and John Bull) and two Enterprises (the Browns and Lev sailing solo) established themselves as the leader-pack from the start. There was only 15 seconds between them at the first lap with Lev in the lead. Lev swapped first place with the Browns for the next two laps with only seconds between them, but by the fourth lap the Browns had opened a 2-minute lead, and Rob was in second place. The Browns maintained their lead for the next three laps and finished just under the hour about two minutes ahead of Rob and Lev, who were about 30 seconds apart. John was about 3 minutes behind Lev and was the last to complete 7 laps. Interspersed in a tight finishing order were Alex Pape in his lugger, Sam and David in the Wayfarer and Tim Young in his Gull, all on 6 laps.
The handicap sums gave the Browns first place in all three series, with Tim second in the Handicap, Little Boats and Polly Prize points. Lev was second in the Big Boats; Rob was third in the Handicap and Big Boats; and Sam was third in the Handicap.
Many thanks to Inna Kolobov for volunteering to be the Race Officer at short notice and for an immaculate results sheet disentangling seven boats coming over the line within minutes if not seconds of each other. And thanks to Andy Ross and David Kolobov in the safety boat.
The boats, including the safety boat, almost floated into the yard on a high spring tide and, even at lunch time, warming tea was on hand.