Race Report 2nd April 2023

With 1.5 hours to go racers and OOD were looking at a strange phenomenon. The river level was rising with the flood tide but there was still a considerable stream flowing down river from the recent rain, and the river was already lapping at the bottom of the ramp! The wind was predicted to be N at F3.  The feeling was to press on and race even if it meant a short B course in the slack water of No.1 SotG.  The decision was vindicated as a stalemate was established between the flow and the incoming tide resulting in an almost tideless stretch of water on the B course with a freshening NW breeze.

There were 4 starters: Frankie in Tango (Solo), Tim in Ait Knots (Wanderer) Olly and Billy in Spinosaurus (Mirror) and Lev crewed by Henry Brown in Porpoise (Enterprise).   With the conditions ideal the race was started 10 mins early at 11.50am.

A cracking start from Olly and Lev saw them level pegging to the first mark off Chiswick Staithe.  Lev took the mark close but a little counter eddy took him beyond the mark leaving enough room for Olly to slip through to hold the lead for a moment. Tim and Frankie followed a hundred yards behind. Tim set off up steam and left Frankie to practice his tacking technique off Chiswick Staithe. After 20 minutes Connaught, that notorious pleasure cruiser, came steaming upriver not wavering from a mid-river course.  In the safety boat, a little concern, so moved closer.  Frankie was on a collision course!  Connaught came charging through with only a couple of lengths in front of Tango. The bow and stern wave of Connaught swamped the Solo.  Frankie did well to stay upright but now had a boat full of water! Time for a tow home.

The rescue boat left the fleet who all seemed well under control.  The sailors running back to towards Chiswick Bridge in a freshening breeze.  Rob, absorbed in trying to land Frankie in a good place at the hard, missed a spectacular capsize of Tim. It was only when Heather (OOD) came running up to the hard that Rob was alerted to the emergency. The safety boat quickly abandoned Frankie and raced at full chat to the capsized Wanderer and immediately took a cold Tim on board. “Which way round does the ladder go?”  With great seamanship Olly had been standing by the Wanderer. Indeed, not only standing by but making ready to take the upturned Wanderer in tow by sail. With Tim now safely on board, Olly left to re-join the race.

Lev and Henry appeared and in turn stood by to see if they could help. A decision was made to transfer Henry to the rescue boat to aid the retrieval of the Wanderer that by now had its mast stuck in the river bed despite having an array of floats attached to the masthead.  Lev having expertly unloaded his crew safely onto the safety boat, now single handed proceeded to join the race.

After various retrieval attempts we managed to get the centreboard out of its slot and lever the Wanderer upright and tow it to UL hard where we could tip out the excess water.  And then tow her back to the yard. Meanwhile the race was back on between the Enterprise and the Mirror each delayed by their excellent seamanship in standing by the stricken Wanderer.  Now that the incoming tide was slackening and the flood was beginning to flow out again the last lap becoming a difficult beat against the outgoing flow. Both managed to complete 3 laps, first Lev in just over an hour, followed by Olly/Billy about 20 minutes later.  Olly won on the Handicap Points but Lev was ahead in the Polly Prize.  Honours even.

Rob Adams 

Many thanks to Heather for enduring the cold at the start line and to Rob for super-seamanship manoeuvres in the safety boat.

Next week is an A-course at 16:15 following a working party at 10:30


Race report 28th March 2023

The start was delayed by 20 minutes because of congestion on the launching ramp with a rapidly rising spring tide having robbed us of foreshore, plus the rigging of a Solo and a Mirror, only the second time of launching, required some team work to sort out.  So the safety boat (Henry Brown) was late down the ramp and Mary Brown (OOD) up at the Bell and Crown wondered what on earth was going on. But eventually six boats were on the water, the marks were set, and the race was started.

Frankie, the first time out in his Solo (Tango), decided that he would get to know Tango rather than join the race.  The other sailors were Lev Kolobov solo in Porpoise (Enterprise), Rob in Phoebe (Laser), Keith Clarke in Kaia (Laser), Tim Young in Ait Knots (Wanderer) and another two generations of Adams’, Olly and Billy in Spinosaurus (Mirror).

It was cold and overcast – rather forbidding – with a northerly at the top end of F3, but at least there was no sign of rain.  The northerly gave a choice of running either side of the PLA mid-stream moorings but there didn’t seem a great advantage either way.  We set an A-course with a downstream mark just up from the slip dock and an upstream mark, as usual, opposite the Steam Packet.

Rob led the way from the start with Lev close behind and they completed 8 laps before the race was ended, just before the tide turned.  Lev sneaked past Rob right at the end with a 30 second advantage.  Tim sailed a very consistent race and kept clear of the overtaking leaders, which meant he had to do a 7th lap.  Olly and Billy also sailed a very impressive race in the Mirror which, with their beginning of season handicap, meant that they won the handicap points.  They completed 6 laps and were ahead of Keith’s Laser for the last two.  And Frankie managed to avoid a capsize and learned plenty about the Solo.  And at the end the sun shone and showed Strand at its best against a contrasting dark sky – positive signs of spring.

The recovery at the arch was as protracted as the launch with much shuffling of boats in knee-deep water, but at least there was hot tea and flapjack as compensation.

Next week is a B-course, starting at 12:00.


Race Report 12th March 2023

Race 2 of the season was a 1615 long A-course and the afternoon was grey and chilly with F2-3 gusty winds from the south. 

5 boats took part and the sailors included 3 generations of Adams’ – Rob in his Laser and Rob’s son Olly in his Mirror along with Olly’s young son Billy (for whom it was his debut race at Strand). The two Adams’ boats joined the race after it was already underway but continued on successfully to the end of the race.

After the first lap, which was a mere 4 mins 40 seconds for leading boat Distant Thunder (which is a Leader) with helm Chris Greenwood and crew Felicia Biekarck, James and Joseph Armitage in James’ Enterprise Zephyr took the lead and maintained it to the end of the race. 

Ben Chapell in his Laser had started well but sadly had to retire having capsized after doing 4 laps in 22 minutes. Lev Kobolov was driving the safety boat and was happily able to help Ben get safely back to the Strand ramp.

After 50 minutes, the leading boat (Zephyr) had completed 10 laps, the daylight was already fading and so we finished the race.

Congratulations to everyone who had the tenacity to take part – and thanks to Nick Floyer for his support to me as OOD and particularly plying me with a hot coffee when the chill was setting in.

Mary Short

First Race, 5th March 2023

A cold , overcast day did not deter 7 boats from shaking off the memory of winter and starting a new sailing season.  It followed the annual dinner/dance the previous evening from which many of the sailors were both well fed and well exercised.

The wind was W to SW, F2, and as ever variable in both strength and direction. It seemed reasonably constant outside the Club as we launched so Ian Nethersell in the safety boat set a long sausage  A-course with a downstream buoy at the City Barge.  The upstream mark was about 50m upstream of the Bell and Crown start line.

The fleet was 3 Enterprises (James Armitage and Lev Kolobov single-handed in Zephyr and Porpoise, and Dave Berger (helm) and Mary Brown in Big Polly); 3 Lasers (Ben Chappell, Rob Adams and Keith Clarke); and Tim Young in his Wanderer, Ait Knots.

The whole fleet moved off in unison with a following wind against the tide.  It took about 10 minutes for the leading single-handed Ents to make it to the downstream buoy, and another 8 minutes for the rest to follow.  The wind was much more variable at that end of the course and the flood tide was unrelenting.  James and Lev were inseparable on the return upstream and passed the start line seconds apart (at just over 15 minutes for the lap) as they sped down stream to catch up with the Lasers.  Big Polly was third, about 8 minutes behind the leaders. 

It was unquestionably a day for the extra sail-power and momentum of the Ents.  On the second lap James had put 4 minutes between him and Lev, who diminished the gap to 20 seconds at the third lap and finished less than a minute behind, by which time they had overtaken everyone else.  Big Polly finished her third lap just after Lev finished his fourth.

The following Lasers and Tim all finished three laps after swapping places several times.  There was a lot of close-order sailing with, at the end,  Rob, then Ben, then Tim and finally Keith.  And in keeping with tradition, the First Race Cup returns to James.

There was much heaving and shuffling getting the boats back into the yard, which served to warm-up cold fingers and limbs.  And fresh from her triumph of organising the Dance on Saturday night, Marian was there with a steaming pot of the most delicious and welcome spicy, fruity, rummy punch.  It was a revival of a tradition started years ago by Paul Williamson.  And tea and biscuits were there as well. 

So the 2023 season has started and promises well for the future.  Next week is another A-course, starting at 16:15.

Race Results, 11 September 2022

After a week with lots of rain, this Sunday was dry and overcast with a very light S to SSE wind said to be F2 at Kew Gardens. It added to a spring tide, which didn’t help on an A-course. We chose a short course starting at Zoffany House and hoped for the best.

Three boats turned out: the Browns in their Enterprise; Tim Young in his Wanderer; and Nick Floyer in his Gull. It should have been a beat down to the downstream mark (just above the grid) with a run back up to mark just downstream of the Bell and Crown, but the actual wind at river level was all over the place.

Unsurprisingly, the Enterprise took the lead and ended with 6 laps in the hour, followed by Nick with four laps and Tim with three. And the points mirrored those positions.

Thanks to Felicia for supervising the sailing and providing tea and biscuits afterwards, and to Chris who was on hand to ensure that no one drifted off under Kew Bridge. Fortunately no one was threatened with that fate.

Next week a contingent from the Club is away sailing on the Norfolk Broads but those not attending will have a D-course to challenge them, starting at 14:30.

And remember that on 25th September we are hosting South Bank Sailing Club for a race with a modest feast to follow.

Race Report, 4th September 2022

As a result of previous D-courses (Hammersmith and back) the Committee had decided to advance the start time by 15 mins or so to make it easier to reach London Corinthians, our turning point. The message had not reached all concerned, or even the website, and so the race started later than intended.

Three boats rigged: James Armitage in his Enterprise crewed by Felicia, Rob Adams in his Laser, and Nick Jeffery in his Duckling, crewed by his daughter. As expected the Ent and the Laser led the way, but Tim Young in the safety boat wisely put a buoy down at St Nicholas’ to enable Nick to make it. As it happened the tide had turned before he got there but he was still able to complete the course.

James and Rob finished back at Strand after 74 and 78 minutes respectively, with Nick 3/4 hour later after just over 2 hours on the water.

Next week it’s an A-course starting at 14:40, and take note that the week after that, 25th September, South Bank Sailing Club are coming up to test our waters, and to enjoy post-race food and drink, so please turn up and give them a good race.

Race Report 7th August 2022

OOD: Nick Floyer, Safety Boat: Henry Brown and Nikita Bierkark

Sunday’s race was an experiment.  Faced with a sequence of D-course the Committee decided to try an experimental low-water course, mid-tide, against the seaward flow of the river.  An E-course, E for experimental. There was a piece about it in the Newsletter.  The preference was for an upstream course so that if the wind died the fleet would be swept back to Strand rather than Hammersmith, and that dictated an E, NE or N wind to make progress against the flow.  And on Sunday we had a forecast of a light ENE wind.  And sunshine. And there’s been no rain for ages, so the river was docile.  Perfect. Or, perfect?

Five boats slithered through the slime and launched: James Armitage and Ayanda (Ent.); Lev and David Kolobov (Ent.); Felicia Bierkark and Ariel in Chris’ Leader; Ben Chappell (Laser); and Tim Young (Wanderer).  The first challenge was to make it to the Bell and Crown start line in the very light and very variable wind.  Two tried on the Surrey side of Oliver’s Island and three on the Strand side.

Eventually, after a 13-minute delay to the start, all reached the line and were ready to meet the next challenge: the wind-shadow of Kew Bridge and the passage through the bridge.   All but Ben made it through the bridge.  James led the way, followed by Lev (who struggled with an improvised tiller, without extension) and then Tim.  The patch above the bridge was a mess of little winds from all or no direction.

Nick Floyer had wisely suggested that the safety boat lay a turning buoy just ahead of the leader at about 15:45, which was about halfway along the Brentford Aits.  James rounded and sailed / drifted back to the Bell and Crown with the current in about 5 minutes.  Lev was about 25 minutes behind him, but Tim and Felicia, like Ben had retired before then.

Was the experiment a success?  We proved that Enterprises could do it even in very light winds, but for a satisfactory race we needed a reliable E, NE wind and another point on the Beaufort Scale.

Next week it’s an A-course at 15:40.


Race Results 31 July 2022

Race report inferred from the race sheet. An eye-witness account would be welcome. Six boats were out enjoying the sunshine, led by James and Chris, who actually had a lead over James at the third lap. Lev appears to have had a bad start but worked his way back through the fleet to finish his 7th lap just behind James and Chris on their 8th. Tim was consistently up with the leaders.

It was busy work for Steve as Race Officer with six boats completing 6-8 laps. I don’t envy him that. And he was kind to Nick in his delightful Gull, finishing him on his 6th lap although he was 25 seconds ahead of James.

Next week it’s the garden party on Saturday (don’t forget to tell Marian if you’re going) and a possible experimental C or D course on Sunday on the rising tide starting at 15:00. Or it may be changed to an A course starting around 18:30.

Race Report, 24th July 2022

It was a morning C Course, with a planned 11:20 start which was delayed by 6 minutes to
11:26. A hot sunny day with a strong down river breeze with many gusts and choppy water.
The start point was from the last moored boat on the pontoon, in line with the mooring
posts on each side of the river and the partly-hidden by new buildings Steam Museum

Six boats started:
Zephyr, James Armitage and daughter, 23444, Enterprise.
Porpoise, L Kolobov, 21408, Enterprise.
Phoebe, Rob Adams, 174570, Laser.
Kaia, Keith Clarke, 195250, Laser.
Distant Thunder, Chris Greenwood & Felicia, 1043, Leader.
SY2, Sam Shemtob with two young crew from America., SY2, Wayfarer.

A good start with a James leading, followed closely by Rob, Keith, Lev, then Chris with
Sam far behind with his well reefed sails.
After about 10 minutes Lev capsized near Kew but he speedily righted the boat and set
about emptying all the water out.
Good progress was made by the first 5 boats with Sam still well behind.
The buoy was placed in line with the Sion Park wall near the London Apprentice. Alas,
soon after rounding the Buoy Keith decided some capsize drill was needed. He righted the
boat well, but had two more capsizes and decided it was wise to retire and the Safety Boat
started towing him back.
James and Rob were well ahead in the distance followed by Lev.
Chris and Felicia had pulled into the side near Kew and Brentford Ait and lowered the sails
and mast because of a broken rudder due to loose pintles.
During all these events Sam gently ambled along from well behind and made up lost time.
As the safety boat was towing Keith’s Laser back they passed us, lowered the sails, and then
gently and gracefully drifted by the finish line with no help from oars.
Finish times:
James, 12:15:30
Rob:, 12:16:00
Lev, 12:25
Sam, 12:45
Keith Retired
Chris Retired

Tim Young OOD