It should have been a Gins Weekend according to the draft programme and that is possibly why only two boats decided to race. It was also a Bank Holiday weekend and rather late in the day.
The weather was cloudy but dry with a steady-ish north wind that the Met Office said was 8 mph (bottom of F3) at Kew Gardens. After some discussion we decided on a long A-course but starting at Zoffany House. The top mark was set at the Bell and Crown, well downstream of the Kew Bridge wind-shadow, with the bottom mark at the City Barge, and with a down-wind, against-the-tide start.
James Armitage (crewed by Emanuela) in the newest Enterprise afloat and Tim Wellburn (crewed by Emma) in the oldest, both decided to start on the far side of the PLA moorings where the wind was clearer than on the Strand side. It was a run down to the bottom mark, with the usual diversions for capricious wind shifts, and a beat or a fine reach back, usually also on the far side of the PLA moorings, to make the turn at the top mark. James led Tim by less than a minute at the first lap, even after Tim had taken the gamble of staying on the Strand side after his first Bell and Crown turn. It almost looked as if the gamble would pay off, but he was caught by a mini doldrum at the downstream end of the moorings. Thereafter both boats did what looked like a risky chicane after the top mark to catch the freer wind in the middle of the river.
James gradually increased his lead as the race progressed as Tim was seen to have problems with a newly-rigged kicker that lost him some headway. James finished seven laps in 4 minutes over the hour and Tim completed 6 laps about 6 minutes later.
At the launch Andy Ross tentatively introduced Comma to the water after a two-year repair job and declared her watertight. At well over 50 years old she is the oldest Enterprise in the Club (sail number 12,130), even older than Tim’s (sail number 19,286). When can we hope to see her sail?
Thanks to Mary Brown for officiating from Zoffany House, and thanks to David for company and heavy-lifting in the safety boat.
This Sunday the club had planned an outing to Gins Farm on the Beaulieu River. An alternative (A) course starting at 18:10 has also been pencilled in. I’m aware that many people are away or may have other engagements planned for the bank holiday weekend, so please can you confirm using the email below that you definitely will be turning up.
A dry, sunny, breezy Sundav aftemoon with a North Westerly wind predicted blowing 4 but gusting 14 knots. A ′′C′ course was programmed and was accompanied by a strong tide flowing through Kew Bridge.
5 Boats assembled on the foreshore, being reduced to 4 when Chris in Distant Thunder experienced a problem and decided to withdraw.
The 4 boats, Porpoise (Lev and David), Ait Knots (Tim), Envy (Ben) and Pacman (Jane) headed off early to Kew Bridge with the safety boat in attendance. All 4 boats passed through the Bridge without a problem.
As OOD, l set up on the towpath in amongst the trees with greatly restricted vision.
The race start was set at 14:40 and the boats had to suffer a long wait in a fast tide and fickle wind conditions. This resulted, when the wind dropped, in some boats getting swept over the start line. The safetv boat assisted and brought some boats back over the start while others stemmed the tide.
The 6-minute start procedure commenced, but unfortunately 2min,15secs before the signal to start was given, the tide and/or the fleet decided to start, with confusion on the water. This resulted in all the boats being over the start-Iine before the two flags were lowered and the start whistle blown.
The only boat to stem the tide and tack back over the start line was Porpoise – Lev and David Iaughing as thev managed it.
Sam and Dave in the safety boat told me afterwards that the race continued up to the buoy off the London Apprentice pub but then haIted as the tide was so strong. I am toId a beer was taken.
As time marched on, the OOD, hidden in the tree-covered towpath, asked cyclists, runners and walkers with their dogs ”have you seen any sails?” “Sails?” they said – they thought l was mad.
Eventually a blue sail appeared through the trees. It was Lev and David in Porpoise, timed in at 87min,36 secs. The others (strictly speaking over the line at the start) were timed in as Ait Knots 92min,42; Envy 93min, 28sec and Pacman 96min, 5sec. The Master of Sums, in keeping with SGSC tradition, agreed that their times should stand, with an addition of the 2min,15sec that they jumped the gun. The charitable view was that they were confused by the strength of the tide, the invisibility of the OOD, and the urging-on of the safety boat.
A Iong day. With thanks to Sam, Dave and guests in the safety boat.
I now need to confirm with Royal Southampton Yacht Club how many of us will be attending Gins Farm over the August bank holiday.
Meet at Gins Farm Saturday morning.
Go sailing and/or canoeing.
Meal at Gins Farm clubhouse Saturday evening.
Meet at Gins Farm Sunday morning.
Monday is a free day; return home early or do some sightseeing
You will need to book your own accommodation be it B&B, hotel or campsite.
We need a least 16 people to book the evening meal but breakfast can be booked individually.
If you plan to attend I need you to confirm how many will be in your party and attending the evening meals and whether you want to borrow a dinghy or if you will bringing your own aquatic transport.
Below is the original announcement for those who have questions.
Gins weekend – 28/29/30 August 2021
It is with great pleasure I can announce the reinstatement of our much loved Gins weekend and confirm the above dates over the August bank holiday weekend.
For our members who have not been before:
Gins Farm is the clubhouse of the Royal Southampton Yacht Club (RSYC) on the Beaulieu River just outside the New Forest (Post Code: SO42 7XG). Other than in recent years this weekend has been on our calendar since the 60s. This weekend is open to all members and their guests.
There is normally a small contingent of SGSC members yachts or chartered boats which can be moored alongside or put on one of the visitor buoys down river. (payment to Beaulieu River HM)
Dinghies are towed down from Strand or can be borrowed (for a nominal fee) from RSYC. Currently available are Wanderers, Lasers, Toppers and Picos. Dinghies towed can be left on site during our rally.
Canoes can be borrowed too but these of course are easily transportable from Strand.
Camping on site is no longer allowed but local to Gins are Roundhill campsite, Lepe Meadows campsite and Lepe Beach campsite.
Dinner is available and bookable in advance for numbers over 16 (I have the menu and it is mouth-wateringly good) and various breakfast options for bookings over 12 people.
There is access to changing, lavatory and shower facilities on the Gins site.
Outline itinerary (subject to weather and tides)
Friday pm: yacht and early arrival possible (HW Portsmouth 1544 LW 2045)
Saturday morning: Breakfast, rig and launch to explore the river with lunch perhaps at Bucklers Hard or down river overlooking the nature reserve. Venturing out on The Solent with dinghies and canoes is dependent on safety cover and conditions.
Saturday evening: Meal in the clubhouse.
Sunday morning: Breakfast then day sailing on the Solent either to Alum Bay/Keyhaven (by The Needles) with lunch in Newtown Creek or exploring the forts to the east with lunch in Osbourne Bay (by Cowes). Some people may choose to stay out and overnight at anchor.
Monday morning: Breakfast and spend the morning on the river before packing up and returning for home.
For now I only need expressions of interest but would ask they be more likely than not likely as RSYC need an idea of numbers. Also the numbers in your party and what vessels you may be taking to the water on, or would like to take to the water on.
I look forward to hearing from those of you interested.
We are organising a river picnic on Wednesday 16th June.
David Jones will be taking the safety boat and Tim Young will be taking his dinghy with an outboard. Others will be taking their dinghies / kayaks up the river by wind/paddle power.
We will meet at the club to launch between 1800 and 1830 to get under Kew Bridge before the river gets too high, and we will sail in convoy to some suitable spot on the shore. The London Apprentice is one option. Return before sunset.
High water is at 19:22 and sunset is almost as late as it gets: 21:19
It was another day of glorious sunshine on the river but, alas, very little wind.
Seven boats launched and a short A-course was set with a start opposite Zoffany House and a downstream start. The downstream mark was just upstream of the drying dock and the upstream mark was at the Bell and Crown. The only incident on the start was that James Armitage (sailing with daughter Ruth) was over the line at the hooter, mistakenly believing it to be an upstream start. He quickly recovered.
Chris (Leader) with Ema as crew was first away and around the downstream mark, followed by Rob Adams (Laser) and then John Bull (Laser). At the end of the first lap Rob was first followed by Chris and then John. In the fluky breeze there was quite a gathering of boats manoeuvring for position at the downstream mark, but by going around the outside James managed to get ahead of the bunch and so was first at the second lap followed closely by John and then Rob. John stuck close to James for three more laps as they overtook the rest of the fleet and completed 5 laps. The OOD took pity on them in the trying conditions and finished the leader after just under 50 minutes. Rob finished four laps in 51 minutes followed by an undistinguishable bunch of John (5 laps), Chris (4 laps) and Ben Chappell (Laser, 3 laps) on 55 minutes 35 seconds. Jane Watkins (Gull, 3 laps) followed them about 5 seconds later. Nick Jeffery, crewed by daughter and dog in their charming red-sailed Duckling resorted to an oar at a relatively early stage and thus retired from the race.
Thanks to David Jones and Tim Young in the safety boat for making sure no one drifted back to Kew Bridge.
I was camping and sailing with my family on the Norfolk Broads last week. Stepping ashore, I overbalanced and fell into shallow water. On the way down, I hit my side on the gunwale of the boat, broke six ribs and punctured a lung. I am just back from amazing care in Norwich hospital.
As you can imagine, I shall not be able to return to sailing at Strand for a while. I have decided in principle to sell Tonic, my Lightning 368 dinghy. She is an old boat but perfectly sound and everything works. She has two sets of spars, all recent, and two sails, one being new and unused. The Lightning is an ideal boat for a lightweight single-hander: self-draining, pivoting centreboard, sail on a halyard. She is amazingly fast in some conditions. So meanwhile, if anyone would like to use her or try her out, that can be arranged.
I hope that this will not be my last boat at Strand, but I may need to find something more sedate. I shall continue to sail elsewhere with my family in our various small boats. I learned to sail from my father in the Straits of Johore at the age of eight, seventy-two years ago; now my four children have families of their own. All four are experienced sailors, both my sons being Yachtmasters, one the volunteer skipper of the Cornish Maritime Trust’s mackerel driver “Barnabus”, the other Lt Cmdr RN. In Norfolk, a good time was had by all, except me.
After days of unbroken sunshine, attracting all the weather attention, the wind and the rain both agreed: “Nope” “No more”. In a grey sky full of their sullen resentment, they crossed their arms, sat down and said: “We’re not moving”. “Anywhere”. The river agreed; sliding in as flat as a sheet of aluminium foil from the slow unfolding roll of a low neap tide. The scheduled ’B’ course was impossible. The former Bason & Arnold boatyard refueling jetty, where 1980s Wheelhouse Club parties sometimes extended out for silent drug dealing and the waft of incense, is now only occupied by gulls – and is simply a Maginot Line that cannot be rounded without a wind.
Even the ‘A’ course was impossible. An almost certain encounter with Kew Bridge would also be without the Brentford Football Club’s fans with their dozens of red flares celebrating its Premier League promotion – and giving a warning for an entire fleet sliding into collisions with it.
The SGSC windsock limply shifted occasionally with a barely detectable south-west wind. Should we abandon the race completely? With 7 boats in various stages of rigging there was some impetus for doing something. Anything. Even, possibly, an extraordinary innovation. Like sailing backwards? Everyone agreed we did that too often. Moving on the spot, going nowhere? Ditto.
From the hubbub of conflicting suggestions, a strange new hybrid, a new genetic mutation emerged. What about a course starting exactly where we are? And coming back to where we were?
The key challenge would be to see if anyone could actually get to a start line that could be defined as the railway bridge itself. The downstream edge of it would be the line. The challenge would be to see if anyone could actually sail far enough further on beyond it to eventually be able to turn into the mainstream – and so get round the first of the wooden posts in the mid-river, opposite the Bull’s Head. And then allow the tide to carry boats back under the bridge to a buoy set at the City Barge. And then see if anyone could do it again?
But it was improbable that even this would work, given the time it could probably take in what seemed like an absolute calm – and with the prospect of a slow rising tide meaning that the two Enterprises, but not the small boats, would get stuck behind – or even under the bridge.
So, a variant in the genomic sequence of a course was created in the SGSC laboratory. The first lap would be this ‘through the bridge’ manoeuvre. And a second lap [and any possible subsequent laps] would be by rounding a buoy at the City Barge and then back to the Club for a second buoy [also acting as a finish line] at the ramp. The entire course was only about 50 yards.
Dave assembled all the buoys and the equipment in the Safety Boat, grounded on the foreshore. Then Tim, in a moment of divine inspiration and prophecy, declared that he alone would perform for the crowd his miraculous trick of “walking on the water” to lay the buoys. Astonishingly he did so! Seizing the bucket of weights and the buoy he strode forth. And lo and behold! He walked out upon the water to lay the first buoy opposite the City Barge. A cynical disbeliever pointed to the fact that he was ankle-deep in water. But when a full English breakfast was accounted for, it was agreed by all that a miraculous event, never before seen on the river, had indeed occurred.
Anxious for a start, Henry and Mary had snuck up the foreshore to get beyond the bridge – and then had to return back through the bridge before the start. But Lev and David had cunningly stood under the bridge and only at the last moment got in the boat – just before the start. But it had not helped them at all. They still stood absolutely still. As did all the rest of the fleet. Or they began to slowly drift away upstream.
Then a very faint hint of a wind came in from the south-west. And one-by-one, the fleet came up to the bridge and through it – and edged and wobbled and tacked and jiggled their way along the foreshore to get far enough up beyond the Bulls Head to be able to turn to cross diagonally into the tide to get to the wooden post – and so back through the bridge.
And they all arrived, all the same time, at the City Barge buoy. Amidst many friendly exchanges of “Hail and Be Gone” – some expressly nautical, the same thing then happened at the buoy at the ramp. Ian urged Ben politically to “consider his position” – and in doing so Ben hit the buoy and was fruitily informed that the rectification of his sins was through a 360º turn – which he did, while sliding backwards all the way to the City Barge.
Meanwhile, John slipped by unnoticed multiple times and Ariel, who had joined the fleet 30 minutes late, seemed to storm through on the faintest of winds and rapidly caught up with everyone. Chris and Rob were inspired by the rapidity of the boats passing in opposite directions and found they could easily slipstream their way around this very short course.
Small warm spots of rain began to splat onto the OOD’s time sheet, making the task of keeping a record of the rapidly accelerating convergence of boats increasingly difficult. And the astonishing rapidity of how they were all actually managing to get round the course – in almost no wind at all, meant that space on the paper was beginning to run out!
So a finish was called as Lev completed his 11th lap, just one more than both Henry and John. With Chris and Ben and Ian completing 8 – and Ariel following with 7 laps.
(Post-race discussions and analysis of the race sheet determined that Ian had (probably) done 9 laps. The OOD’s task in the circumstance of 7 boats, each doing up to 10 laps, is challenging to say the least. He has my sympathy, and our thanks. Ed./Master of Sums)
What did it all amount to? An astonishing SGSC innovation with adaptation to circumstances!
TIK TOK is famous for the amazing virtuosity of people dancing to very short music themes, and so this new hybrid unrepeatable short course demonstrating a zero-wind theme and variations should have been filmed to display to the world SGSC performing its unique and brilliant short course singing and dancing in the rain routine that we should call TIK TOK SAILING.
OOD Team: Training: Stephano, Bianca & Ecia; Supervising: Tim Wellburn
Sunshine, a fair easterly wind and a moderate but strengthening flood tide.
A two-buoy ‘A’ course; 5 boats competed.
Emanuella, having launched early, decided to return to the Arch before the racing commenced. This led to an exciting Le Mans start for James, who took on her crew member in mid-stream, seconds before the start. Discrete enquiries suggested that the crew, Ariel Biekarak, was almost certainly a ringer, with very serious Brazilian racing blood, of whom we hope to see more in future.
This may have accounted for the remarkably quick times put in by Enterprise 23444, which reappeared to complete the first lap after about only 71/2 minutes, with Lev’s and Henry’s Ents chasing +/- a couple of minutes astern, and John’s Laser about half a minute later. Ben, whose Laser’s hull and self-bailers both seemed less than watertight, at times struggled a bit more to make headway against the easterly wind and tide, and followed John about 23/4 minutes later.
By the second lap, Lev & David, having overcome last week’s temporary aquaphobia, had overhauled Henry & Mary, albeit by less than half a minute, and generally gained time by managing to point closely into the wind after rounding the upstream buoy.
This sequence of boats then endured for the rest of the race, which ran for just over an hour, with James completing 9 laps; Lev 8; John and Henry 7; and Ben 6.