A crisp, sunny autumnal afternoon with a decent breeze saw a fleet of eight dinghies launched for the final race of the season – including “Ait Knots” as a spectator under electric motor for an inaugural outing for Tim’s grandson. The Safety Boat was manned by David Jones and Tim Williamson who efficiently laid buoys for course A in time for a prompt start at 14.35, with the Bell and Crown chimneys aligned and the signal flags (ably broken out and dropped by Mary S) being complemented by OOD Nick J’s whistle. This piercing noise went unnoticed by two boats, “Pakman” and “Distant Thunder”, that started 3-4 minutes late. (NB: ISAF: “Times shall be taken from the visual signals; the absence of a sound signal shall be disregarded”). Leona, aboard the Tonic “Lightning” decided not to start due to gear failure so it became a four-boat race for the first 20 minutes as Jane aboard “Pakman” and Chris & Felicia aboard “Distant Thunder” duelled it out for last place at the first buoy in front of The City Barge, with three capsizes, all out of sight – and earshot – of the OOD. The Thames Barrier was closed so tide was negligible making for quick progress mid stream. The first lap saw just three minutes separating the four leaders: James’ “Zephyr” (9:50), Lev’s “Porpoise” (11:23), Ben’s “Envy” (12:05) and Ian’s “Backwash” (12:59). The two enterprises held the lead with “Zephyr” completing six laps in 56mins:27secs and “Porpoise” five laps (59:20), Ian’s Vibe four laps (1hour:3mins:55secs) and Ben’s Laser five laps (1:5:54). Chris’ Leader managed five laps (1:8:15) while Jane’s Gull took the final sound signal  at 1 hour 12 mins and 26 seconds (including the 3-4 mins start) for three laps, six-year-old Kieran blowing the club’s horn loudly, to mark the end of the season’s racing. SGSC members and guests then enjoyed some excellent home brew beer, chicken soup, sausages, cheesy quiche tarts, Ukrainian pirogy, cup cakes and banana bread, Mary S expertly manning the BBQ and Commodore Ian thanking all for attending and sailing through the season.

Nick Jeffery