Race Report 4th July 2021

Race Report
Showers during the day, a long course and a relatively late scheduled start time of 17.10 were probably reasons for only two dinghies launching: James, crewed by Ema, in the Enterprise “Zephyr” and Rob in his Laser “Phoebe”. After a close match-race start (see photo) beating towards Hammersmith on Course D, with a favourable ebbing tide, the pair soon disappeared beyond Chiswick Bridge, ably watched over by Tim and Dave in the safety boat. A gust in the blustery conditions saw Rob demonstrate his nimble recovery skills, “Phoebe” leading around the buoy (laid at 17:35, opposite the London Corinthian SC) passing it at 17:36 closely followed by “Zephyr” at 17:41, watched by Tim and Dave who noted that the tide appeared to be half-an-hour late turning. About an hour and three-quarters after the start the blue goose-winged sails, trimmed by James and Ema, appeared out of the grey with, soon after, the white sail of Phoebe and the yellow safety boat visible for the final stretch to the railway bridge finish line. “Zephyr” crossed 1hr:51mins:18secs after the start and “Phoebe” less than nine minutes later, precisely two hours and three seconds after the start, as the OOD – who had had ample time to prepare – took a photo, checked his new sailing watch, noted the time and blew the end-of-match whistle.
Nick Jeffery

Race Results

I found that I had omitted a few points last week, now corrected in the above. If anyone notices, I will explain and apologise. Best wishes, Nick Floyer

Race Report 27th June 2021

There was a feeble wind, nominally from the NE, meaning that the river was mostly sheltered by houses. The OOD controversially changed the course from an A, where there was no wind, to a B, where was just a little. Rob (Laser) and Lev (Enterprise) managed to cross the start line immediately despite the strongly flooding spring tide, and went on to complete their first lap in 17 minutes, at the end of which they were dead level.
Chris (Leader) and Jane (Gull) made several attempts to get started before a helpful puff took them over the line. Chris went on to complete his first lap, but Jane, having made it past the jetty, was swept back into it by the tide. She was rescued by the safety boat and retired. Ian (Vibe) found himself hemmed in and windless, and went home.
Fortunes changed on the second lap. While Lev went slowly but steadily ahead to finish first, Rob became becalmed and stuck; Chris caught up and briefly overtook him, and although Rob rounded the final mark on the inside and finished just ahead, Chris easily took second place on handicap.
Thanks to Sam and Dave in the safety boat, and to Nick’s family who supported him on the bank.
Nick Floyer

Race Results

Race Report 13th June 2021

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.


Race Report 6th June 2021


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.  

© Andy Ross OOD 6.6.2021

Race Report 30 May 2021

Safety Boat: Nick Jeffery

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.

Tim Wellburn

Race Report 23rd May 2021

A cloudy, breezy Sunday Morning with an SSW wind predicted blowing 6 gusting 14 Knots.

Two visiting guests, mother and son, Felicia and Ariel were welcomed and agreed to crew for James and Chris.

5 Boats assembled on the foreshore.

James plus crew Ariel (Zephyr), Henry and Mary (Big Polly), Lev and David (Porpoise), Chris and Felicia (Distant Thunder) and Ben (Envy).

The Safety boat was launched by Ian and Dave, and the course setting was agreed with the OOD.

As the gusts developed and the threat of rain loomed, Henry decided to return to the Arch.

Four boats set sail up stream for the 11.10 start of the scheduled short A course.

The buoys were set, upstream of the Bell and Crown Pub and upstream of the Grid with the start line at Bell and Crown Pub. As the start line was forming, Ben experienced problems with his Laser and with assistance from the safety decided to retire from the race.

The race started on time with James leading and Chris and Lev close behind. James lapped the first lap in 5.34 and Chris 7.57 and Lev 7.58. The race continued with James slowly increasing his lead and Lev and Chris – Chris and Lev exchanging positions for 6 laps with little between them.

All three boats seemed to take different tracks especially going up stream. The down stream track was favoured by all to be close to the Strand Bank. Moreover, the wind direction seemed to change throughout the race switching to the West and gusting. This made the sailing very testing. Unfortunately, on the 7th lap as Lev had established a lead over Chris, he was hit with a unexpected gust of wind at the Bell and Crown Pub buoy. He capsized and within seconds his Enterprise (Porpoise) was full of water, the transom completely covered. Lev and David managed to right (Porpoise) and keep her from capsizing again in the strong gusts. With frantic bailing they then carefully sailed on to finish the race. An amazing spectacle for Sunday visitors to Strand, brilliantly executed by Lev and David.

James completed the race 8 laps – 51.05 minutes, Chris 7 laps – 52.56 and Lev 7 laps – 57.35

Many thanks for Ian and Dave manning the Safety Boat.  

OOD   J A E Bull

Race Report 16th May 2021

OOD: Jane Watkins 

Safety Boat: David Jones 

Under a thundery, rainy sky and with a SSW wind of 9mph with occasional gusts, it was a pleasant surprise to find six boats willing to risk a soaking in the name of Sunday sport. 

Sailing an A course starting by the Bell & Crown, James Armitage in Zephyr stunned nobody by taking an immediate lead. He completed his first lap in just under 10 minutes, with Lev Kolobov hot on his heels a minute later in Porpoise. Within the next three minutes, we saw TonicPhoebe and then Distant Thunder completing their first lap, with Envy bringing up the rear shortly afterwards. 

Over the course of the hour-long race, James extended his lead over Lev to some six minutes – an impressive performance for Mr Kolobov who was, after all, sailing an Enterprise on his own. By the end of the race, James and Lev had completed six laps each; Rob Adams in Phoebe completed five laps, with Nick Floyer (Tonic), Chris Greenwood and crew (Distant Thunder) and Ben Chappell (Envy) all finishing with a highly respectable four laps each. 

Many thanks to Dave for manning the safety boat on a rather damp and grey Sunday.


Race Report 9th May 2021


It is a truism that: “A rising tide raises all boats”. But as the tide comes in, does the water actually tilt forwards to flow uphill? Or is it simply: ‘Levelling-Up”?  And if it is doing it just to be politically correct; does it get any votes?

That was the question on Sunday. The thunder-clapping sound of loose sails banging about amongst the boats on the foreshore was quite intimidating enough. Could “Levelling-Up” actually mean “Levelling-Down” masts and sails: all flattened on the water? That was suddenly the opinion of Nick who, having rigged, promptly de-rigged. And Mary, too, looked decidedly anxious as Chris struggled to keep his boat on the trolley, even without a sail up.  

Tim Young and Leona with Tom were early on the water in the Safety Boat to help guide boats under Kew bridge for a ‘C’ course. But as the OOD made his way up Strand, it was apparent that Chris had very clearly been better advised – and had thought better of it: they were returning to the Club.

The OOD took up a bank position amongst the snowdrops and bluebells on a line from the last post on the barge pontoon to the water tower as the fleet of Rob, Joseph, Lev with David, and Lotte with Pat, came through the bridge and moored up on the pontoon rather than risk jilling about in the stiff wind, with rowers sculling about.  As they waited, so the north-easterly wind began to drop. However, Tim Wellburn with his son Rob had been blown through the bridge – and then onwards along Waterman’s Park. By a stroke of luck, the RNLI lifeboat was coming that way – and towed them back to the start line.

As they all set off, so the sun came out – and later news recounted how the Safety Boat had chased after them to set the buoy somewhat before the London Apprentice – and Joseph had overshot it. Meanwhile, Rob [who had already capsized and righted once] spotted the opportunity to make up time and rounded it ahead of Joseph – eventually to finish 59 seconds ahead.

Co-incidentally, the wind then veered from north-easterly to southwesterly. But it was quite unsure about it – and so held its breath in long lulls that meant that by the time it picked up Rob and Joseph and Lev were nearly 20 minutes ahead of Tim and Lotte across the finish line. However, quite extraordinarily, now with a following wind, they were all back before the tide had fully turned.

Expert control of the Safety Boat meant they were all slowly and carefully manoeuvred under the bridge since a “Falling tide lowers all boats”: except for Rob and Joseph who both deliberately decided that they were in charge themselves – and would get under it in their own way by “Levelling-Down”. 

OOD Andy Ross 10.05.2021

Lovely photos from Hans Styrnell high up in Brentford Dock. Many thanks. HB