Race Report 4th April 2021

The Covid lockdown delayed the start of the season by three weeks, so this was the First Race (worthy of its own trophy), as well as the Easter Egg race, and, as it happens, the 75th anniversary of the Club’s first race back in 1946.  Plenty to celebrate, and 10 boats trundled down the foreshore in welcoming spring sunshine.  The only thing that was lacking was, as is often the case, a decent breeze to get us around the course.  By common consent we had decided to sail a long B-course rather than the scheduled D, down to Hammersmith, for fear of being stuck far from home by contrary wind and tide.

The gentle westerly breeze aslant the river helped the fleet to the downstream mark opposite the Putney rowing club and it was immediately apparent that getting back up the river wasn’t going to be easy.  A trio of boats, consisting of James Armitage in his brand-new Enterprise Zephyr, crewed by his son Joseph, Lev Kolobov (solo in James’ old boat Porpoise), and Ian Nethersell in his Vibe managed to work their way up the bank upstream of Chiswick Quay, and from there in slow stages back towards Strand.  A second group consisting of the Browns, the Greenwoods and, briefly, Jane Watkins and Ben Chappell managed at least to stay up stream of the mark before first Jane and eventually Ben, decided to return by other means.  Jane, fed up of being on the wrong side of the mark, took her Gull by the painter and dragged her home along the bank.

The Browns and the Greenwoods stayed together in a slow oscillating progress upstream, being overtaken by skulls, canoes, paddle boards, even the foreshore, until after an hour or so the current slowed enough for them to follow the leaders.

By then the safety boat had started to tow back the rear guard from the environs of Chiswick Bridge and ferry them back upstream.  Ben was the last to accept the inevitable. 

In the leading group an intriguing dilemma was being enacted:  Porpoise, after 25 years of winning with James at the helm was being challenged by a shiny new upstart with James at the helm.  In the end Porpoise’s habit of winning triumphed over her upstart rival and Lev helmed her over the line 39 seconds ahead of Zephyr.  Ian was 14 minutes behind, and the Browns and the Greenwoods, 30 seconds apart, were another 14 minutes behind. 

To add to the anniversary theme the race was the day after Mary Brown’s 75th birthday.  So the first race was more memorable for these coincidences than for the quality of the sailing, which was more a challenge to patience than to skill.  But at least it was a beautiful day and a hopeful prospect for the remaining sailing season.

Lev was awarded the Easter Egg and the First Race prize.  Many thanks to Heather for serving as OOD and to Rob, David Jones and several helpers in the safety boat.


The view from Eeyore – thanks, Nick
… and one from the bank – the start of the slow return. Thanks to Charlotte Wellburn

Gins Weekend 2021

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 is the clubhouse of the Royal Southampton Yacht Club (RSYC) on the Beaulieu River just outside the New Forest. 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.


Start of Season delayed …

Good News and Bad News

The latest Government advice (25th February) is good and not so good. The Good News is that from 29th March most of the restrictions on our activities will be relaxed. Here is what it says:

Step 1: 29 March Outdoor sports facilities including sailing clubs can reopen, subject to the Rule of six/two households. The Rule of six means that (apart from a set of limited exemptions including work and education) any social gatherings of more than six people are against the law. Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s – will also restart and where compliant with guidance issued by the national governing bodies (the RYA) will not be subject to the gatherings limits. Indoor facilities, such as changing rooms, should not be used at this time, although toilet facilities can be accessed.

The Bad News is that the four of our programmed activities will be cancelled.  They are the working party on 7th March and the three races on 14th March, 21st March and 28th March.

So the first race of the season (all being well) will be a D-course on 4th April starting at 15:15.  See you then.

Summary of Results 2020

Good afternoon Sailors

This afternoon would have been a cold and breezy Last Race with a sharp shower to accompany Beer and Bangers in an ankle-deep arch.  So perhaps we didn’t miss too much to the COVID clampdown.

Here are the final results for our extraordinary 2020 season.  We lost the first race to strong winds, the second to a PLA river closure, and the next 9 races to COVID-19 lockdown.  But from 17th May to the second lockdown on 5th November we had 21 races and some very good turn-outs.

James swept the board of 1st prize silver for the Handicap, Big Boats and Polly prizes, with Alex winning the Little Boats prize.  Commodore Lev got two 2nd places (Big Boats and Polly Prizes); Rob got 2nd prize in the Handicap, and Ian 2nd in the Little Boats.  Third places went to Rob (Big Boats), Alex (Handicap and Polly), and Jane for the Little Boats.

And our average turnout for points races was 6.4 boats.  Last season was 4.1 and the last time we had a higher number (6.7) was 2001.

Congratulations to all. 

COVID restriction

Hi All

I’m afraid our last race was the last race. 

The Gov. has decreed, and the RYA has confirmed, that no organised sailing events are possible under lock-down rules. 

You can still use the ramp and go sailing on the river, but only on your own.

So let’s hope for better times and good sailing in 2021.

Best wishes


Race Report 1st November 2020

Sunday was overcast and strong gusty winds with rain were forecast.  Nevertheless several helms turned up at the arch at 12:30 to get the feel of conditions.  Four boats decided to launch: James Armitage with his increasingly experienced Enterprise crew, grandson Ayanda; Alex Pape in his lugger; Ian Nethersell in his Vibe; and Jane Watkins in her Gull.  In view of the conditions, in consultation with the sailors, Mary Brown (OOD) decided on a short race of around 45 minutes.

In reality the weather wasn’t as bad as feared.  There was a F3-4 WSW wind blowing diagonally across the A-course and its force was somewhat diminished by the still leafy trees on the Surrey bank, and the rain didn’t materialise.  So the fleet had a broad reach on the way down to the bottom mark by the slip dock, and a fine reach on the way back to the top mark just below the Steam Packet.

James, Alex and Ian (in that order) all completed their first lap in about 5 minutes after which the Enterprise stretched its lead over the other two.  Jane had too close an encounter with the top mark, and re-rounding cost her some time.  Ian and Alex swapped positions at least three times during their 8 laps and finished 27 seconds apart with Jane, on six laps, sandwiched between them.  James had already completed 8 laps and was about 3 minutes ahead of Alex at the line.

After the sums, Alex won the Handicap points and the Little Boats points and James was first in the Polly Prize.  Henry Brown, in the safety boat, was pleased to have very little to do.

The Master of Sums apologises for having posted a misleading report that did disservice to Alex and Ian.  This is the true story.

Next week we intend to sail a B/D course at 13:40 if the new Covid rules allow but we shall email / post on the website the RYA/Government advice if we can’t.

Race Report, 18 October

Race Report 18 October 2020

Sunday 18th October was fair and dry but there was little wind, which may account for the fact that only three boats decided to sail an afternoon A-course, which was set appropriately short.

James Armitage was sailing his Enterprise with Ayanda, his light-weight crew.  Rob Adams and Ben Chappell were both sailing Lasers.

There was enough wind to start with for all three to sail the first lap in between 7 and 10 minutes – James in the lead.  The second and third laps were sailed by James and Rob even quicker in around five minutes each, but then the wind dropped dramatically – or perhaps, undramatically.  James’ fourth lap took 10 minutes with Rob lagging behind on 29 minutes.  But then the last lap for James lasted what must have felt like an eternity of 36 minutes, while Rob gradually caught up with a 19-minute lap.

So James won the endurance test in one hour and 43 minutes with Rob five minutes behind.  Ben had kept within striking distance of them for the first two laps but struggled for over three quarters of an hour on his third (and last).  But it was only his second race with us in his Laser, and If it’s any comfort to him, they say it can take five years of racing to master a new dinghy. And that doesn’t allow for our weird tidal waters.

Thanks to Jane Watkins for her patience as OOD, and to Lev Kolobov for manning the safety boat.

Apologies for late reporting – the M of S has been away.


Race results 11th October 2020

Sunday was a lovely sunny autumn day with a nice F3 NNW wind blowing down the river from Kew Bridge.  We had scheduled a D-course (Hammersmith and back) but since the COVID restrictions came in we have been sailing laps on the B-course (between the railway bridge and Chiswick Bridge) instead, so that the safety boat can keep an eye on all competitors.  The fleet tends to get very stretched-out around all the bends to Hammersmith.  The main problem on Sunday was that we also had a strong ebb tide boosted by recent rain going in the same direction as the wind.

At 15:45 the fleet, an exceptional turn-out of 11 boats, set off with a rush down-wind and down current and reached the bottom buoy in a large bunch at the downstream end of Chiswick Staithe, in about 5 minutes.  That’s when the difficulties started.  The current was just too strong for most boats to make the turn and beat back against wind and tide.  And there was the added problem that, it being low water, the shelving gravel threatened centreboards and rudders and there wasn’t the width of river to luxuriate in long tacks.  And rowers, canoes and paddle boarders were also out in strength.

There were, of course, exceptions.  James Armitage with Ayanda as crew showed the way with short and accurate tacks in the lesser flow along the Middlesex bank, but even they made painfully slow progress.  Rob Adams (Laser) kept reasonably close company with them, as did Lev Kolobov (solo in his Enterprise).  James took 32 minutes to complete his first lap with Rob about ten minutes behind.  It was a full hour before Lev reached that point.  He was followed in 8 minutes by James on his second lap with Rob a quarter of an hour later.  Lev did his second lap in half an hour, finishing about 8 minutes after Rob.

Meanwhile the rest of the fleet tacked and cursed, and cursed and tacked, gradually drifting downstream of the bottom mark until, one by one, they gave up the struggle and either walked their boats back up stream or reluctantly accepted a tow from the safety boat. Chris and Mary’s Leader was an exception: they persisted heroically and completed a lap in one hour and 38 minutes.  Ian Nethersell almost made it but, after capsizing once (while remaining dry above the knees), decided that was enough.  And Ben Chappell, in his first race with us, in a new (to him) Laser, with a dodgy tiller extension and an immersive capsize, after almost two hours of struggle accepted a cold tow home.

In contempt of the tide tables (low water at Strand 16:14) the ebb was still running by then, although less strongly as the river level built up against the flood.

Mary Brown logged all the action from outside 1 Strand on the Green, and Henry B spent a busy afternoon in the safety boat.


Race Results 27th September 2020

B Course  F3 NWW Gust 4+

A lively day on which James and grandson, Chris & Mary and Rob decided to challenge the gusty conditions and Ben to try out, but not to race Envy, his newly acquired Laser.

James and Rob positioned themselves for a Surrey bank start; Chris, after a late rigging delay, achieved a prompt Middlesex departure.  Conditions downstream favoured the southern pair who were back at the upstream mark in just under 11 minutes.  Rob, marginally in the lead approaching the buoy, was pipped round it at the last moment by James.  Chris & Mary followed 3 1/2 minutes later.

Rob & James were still only 27 seconds apart at the end of the second lap.  However, near the downstream mark on the third lap James came back into view sailing only on his jib.  The explanation for this proved to be a broken kicking strap.  However, they tacked back on the jib to complete their third lap.

In the meantime, Chris & Mary had lost further time but were valiantly staying upright in the gusts (which Rob had briefly failed to do – although it didn’t appear to delay him much).  They retired after crossing the line before exhaustion set in – or a final gust decided the issue.  Rob followed them across 13 seconds later and a lap ahead and was awarded the (shortened) race as being the only competitor remaining with a mainsail.

Tim Wellburn


The Club is now required to be able to inform the NHS of who takes part in our Sunday races in case there is a risk of catching the bug.  This could arise if a participant or visitor is tested positive elsewhere after having been to an SGSC event. 

The Club now has a QR code (the square spotty thing on an A4 poster) at the arch which is specific to SGSC and the arch.  This means that, if you have the NHS COVID-19 App on your smart-phone, you can register your presence by, in effect, photographing the poster.  If someone at the race is subsequently tested positive the authorities can contact all those who registered on that day.

If you don’t have the app or don’t have your phone with you the authorities will contact the Club if the nee arises and we will send them a list of those present, plus phone numbers, to be contacted by track and tracers.  We will know who is present from the OOD’s race sheet for the day.

Please use the QR code / App on a race day and make sure that the OOD knows of any non-member crew or other visitors who may be potential contacts.  The helm of each boat will be responsible for identifying any non-member crew or other visitors.