Tamesis Club

Breezy Trowlock(down) Trophy 1 November 2020

A mostly southwesterly wind was whistling through the rigging as 16 boats prepared to take on the annual Trowlock Trophy Open handicap pursuit race.

OOD Jon Redding set a course which sent competitors from the re-commssioned clubhouse start line, the Smithy being partly dismantled prior to replacement, above the island and then on a looped course which had turn marks near Kingston railway bridge and opposite KRC.

Simply starting was an issue for some which was compounded by the arduous beat to get above the island.  Once there, the action came thick and fast with a very lively breeze challenging all who could stay the course.

The nine Lasers were off first including a welcome visitor from Lensbury club.  Tom Low set the pace for a number of laps but found himself ‘in the tide’ which allowed Matt P-J to surge through.  Behind them there were plenty of close calls with one Laser helm opting to ride out a boisterous squall by holding on to the bank, and another taking a swim while his boat planed away without him.

The lone National 18 had a torrid time and capsized.  Recovery was an involved affair, including taking the mast down and a long pull back to the creek.

Some of the six Merlin Rockets also made heavy going of the conditions.  Two boats packed it in soon after reaching the main racetrack while another returned to the club ‘periscope up’ after taking a dunking.

Finishing positions were recorded at half past midday and the winner was Matt P-J in his Laser, followed by Andy Harris and Matty Key in their Merlin Rocket, with Tom Low taking third place in another Laser.

Congratulations to those who made it to the podium and to all the competitors who took part in a sailing blow-out which is likely to stay in the memory for a good proportion of the impending lockdown.

Thanks to Jon Redding and Anne Bayne for running the race and keeping track of the results amid some chaotic scenes, Simon Thompson, Peter Bide and Chris Taggart for running the patrol boat, and the crew of the launch.  Also to Jonathan Key and Carolyne Vines for taking the pictures.

While the future of the next month’s Sunday racing is in the balance (updates to follow once the club has clarity about the impact of lock down guidelines), racers will be able to scratch their competitive itch by taking part in the club’s restarted Virtual Regatta series – more details will be posted via the Tamesis Club Sailing Whatsapp group in due course.




Winter Series 2 Sunday 25 October

Sunday dawned grey and soggy with the river swelled by recent rains.  The increased stream, coupled with a much lighter wind than forecast was to cause problems for many competitors who inadvertently engaged reverse when they expected to be in drive.

Happily, the weather improved and the river looked a picture in the welcome sunny spells which highlighted the autumnal hues developing along the banks.  There was even a few puffs of wind for later starters.

Seven Lasers were away at 10.30 and suffered probably the worst of the drifty conditions.  Two packed it in but five soldiered on to the finish.

The National 18s were led round by Henry Defries who took the on-the-water honours.  Matty Valentine persevered in his Topper but retired after struggling to unravel the mysteries of the Canbury mark.

The four Merlin Rockets enjoyed varying fortunes.  Peter Johnson and Paul Jamieson deployed a stellar mid-stream start and briefly headed the pack but, rather mysteriously given the conditions, were to end up being towed home full to the brim.

Charlie Morgan and Henry Dorrell wrestled their way round searching for their customary speed.

At the front, Andy and Richard Harris’s fraternal arby-bargy had gunwale-shredding consequences with Richard crossing the finish line in first.

Not a classic morning of racing by any means but also not without its talking points for the socially distanced shoreside onlookers.  We all look forward to the more consistent winds that are promised for the final Junior Sailing session of the season on Saturday (don’t forget to bring an entry for the Halloween themed bake-off), and the Trowlock Trophy Open handicap pursuit race on Sunday.

Thanks as ever to the Box and Patrol Boat teams, and to Jonathan Key (assisted by Ed Medcalf) for the pictures.

Trafalgar Trophy 18 October 2020

A timid two miles per hour northwesterly promised a dour morning’s racing as 13 boats rigged for the annual Trafalgar Trophy pursuit race.

However, river racing can be strangely compelling even under the most unprepossessing circumstances and some intriguing slow motion battles played out over the course of the race.

First off were Henry and Ed Medcalf in a Laser 2000 who quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the four single-handed Lasers.  The five National 18s were off next in a staggered start with the three Merlin Rockets crossing the start line somewhere in the middle.

It was the Merlin Rockets that managed to conjure up the greatest forward motion and were soon at the front of affairs.  Andrew Harris and Matty Key eventually overhauling light wind specialists Peter and Richard Mason and holding on for the win.  Charlie Morgan and Humphrey Dorrell brought their new boat in for a solid third.

It wasn’t  a classic by any means but competitors did display a tenacity and will to win that was redolent of the trophy’s namesake.

Many thanks as ever to the volunteer team who made the event possible, Rupert Fletcher OOD in the box with Hugh McLaughlin, Paul Jamieson and Steven Lucas in the patrol boat.  Thank you to Jonathan Key for the pictures.

Winter Series race 1, Sunday 11 October 2020

The 2020/2021 Winter Series kicked off on a sunny Sunday morning with a comparatively steady NNW breeze and a stream that had moderated a little compared to a week ago.  Seven Lasers, eight Merlin Rockets and two N18s stretched their legs and enjoyed some close racing.

Matt P-J won the Lasers in a close finish, Charlie Morgan and Humphrey Dorrell won the Merlin Rockets, and the on-water winners for the N18s were Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines.

Thanks go to OOD Joe Woods assisted in the box by stand-in at short notice Sue Harris, and Marcus Chevasse and Ken Thatcher in the patrol boat.  All photographs by Jonathan Key.

There are more than 20 races in the Winter Series with 50% to count so there is the potential for plenty more good action over the coming months.

Junior sailing Saturday 10 October 2020

A dozen keen Juniors took to the water this afternoon.  Despite the grey conditions, there was an entertaining breeze that kept them focused on the job in hand.  Big thanks to Andy Harris for running the coaching, Nim Harris for arranging the refreshments and to the many other helpers who continue to make this weekly session a highlight.  All photos by Jonathan Key.

Racing with extra special sauce – Sunday 13 September

In a particularly welcome new development, racers were greeted on Sunday morning by the alluring smells of bacon cooking on the club’s new BBQ.  It even appeared irresistible to the passing RNLI crew whose masks could not entirely block out the tempting aromas.

While the bacon butties and coffee hit the spot pre-race, Team Horwitz surpassed themselves by serving up a lunch of gourmet burgers.  While it might seem unusual to start a race report with a culinary update, this new initiative was a triumph and members are encouraged to look out for new of the next time when the BBQ will make an appearance.  Many thanks to the Horwitz family for delivering this new initiative so successfully.

Turning to sailing matters, OOD John Adams set a cunning dogleg course for competitors to negotiate with the Lensbury buoy in a tricky patch and a tight turn close to the bank at Club which brought the boats close to the socially-distanced spectators.

The Handicap Fleet saw a David and Goliath situation as Ed Medcalf in an Optimist took on three N18s.

Unfortunately for Ed, it was a day when size mattered and the race was won on handicap by Charles Fox and Robert Blakeborough, from Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines, with newcomer Malcolm Warner and Garry Mallen in third.

The Laser fleet welcomed new entrant Alexey Anatskiy, and also the return of ‘irregular regulars’ Jon Redding and Richard Harris.  On this occasion, it was Jon and Richard who showed the fleet how it is done with Jon taking the win, Richard in second, and perennial front-runner Marcus Chavasse having to settle for third this time round.

(c) Jonathan Key 07949 053695

Nine Merlin Rockets graced the start line with the trio of Andy Harris, Peter Mason, and Tim Medcalf forming an early breakaway group.  However, the peloton was not to be denied.  While Andy and Peter pulled away to finish in that order Chris Balmbro and Matt P-J moved in to third and fourth.

The racing was a good workout for everyone, particularly those with an eye on the upcoming Merlin Rocket Open (19 September), N18 Inland Championships (3 October), and Laser Barometer Open (4 October).

Thank you to John Adams and Sue Harris who ran the box, and Paul Jamieson and Martin Adams who were in the patrol boat.  Also to Sara Jamieson and others for helping to run the Veranda Bar, and Jonathan Key for the photos.


A full house at Junior Sailing – Saturday 12 September

Demonstrating the strength in depth of Tamesis Club’s Jumior Sailing group, more than 25 youngsters took to the water on Saturday afternoon.

It was a delight to see a dozen Toppers, a triplet both of Optimists and Fevas, and the club’s Wayfarer all plying the reach.


Coaching was provided by the experienced team of Andy Harris and Griff Tanner who guided the fleet from SUPs and were supported by Byron Hoo and Ken Duffel in the patrol boat.

The afternoon ended, as is often the case, with an extended session of jumping in the river, followed by delicious cakes made by Claire Ferguson and Nicola Siebert-Patel, and squash or tea prepared by Nim Harris.

The club would like to thank all the volunteers who make Junior Sailing such a success and we look forward to welcoming our many other new Junior members to a session soon.

Due to the Merlin Rocket Open meeting on 19 September, there won’t be Junior Sailing this week but keep an eye out for communication about the following week.

Thank you to Jonathan Key for the photos.

Minima YC Regatta 5&6 September

Three Tamesis Club boats attended the Minima YC Regatta over the weekend of 5&6 September.  Here is a report from Henry Medcalf about the event:

The annual Minima Regatta went on this year, with some new Covid restrictions to allow it to run smoothly and risk-free. There was a strong turnout of 26 boats from Thames SC, Twickenham YC, Tamesis Club and Minima YC including fleets of Enterprises, Lasers and Solos, and a handicap start.
Matty Key and Henry Medcalf sailed Toppers both days, Tim and Ed Medcalf a Merlin on Saturday only.

Winds were light on Saturday, and even lighter on Sunday, meaning that sailors had to use their best low-wind skills to keep going. The westerly wind meant that the wind came over the trees lining the riverbank. This resulted in some very shifty conditions. There were clear gaps in the trees which would allow some respite from the lack of wind. The variation in wind direction would result in sailors realising that they were tacking both up and down the course.
The weekend was split into five races (two on Saturday and three on Sunday) with an additional novice race at the end of Saturday. The course for most races was a sausage up to the Turk Launches pier and back down to just past the Minima box.
The Tamesis Club Toppers TO36323 sailed by Henry Medcalf and TO44130 sailed by Matty Key were rarely far apart, and created some great racing. The other river traffic meant that there was never a dull moment, with barges and GoBoats whizzing up and down.
There was a prize giving with prizes provided by the event sponsor, TWM Solicitors.  Henry Medcalf managed to pick up the novice race trophy with Matty Key coming in a close second.
Thanks to all of the volunteers at Minima YC for making it a great weekend, with a lovely barbeque to tuck into on Saturday night after a hard day of racing.
Special vote of thanks also to Kaan Yargici who was a huge help as he towed the two Topper sailors up to Minima YC with the launch – much appreciated!  Also to Twichenham YC for towing them back down again on Sunday.  All pictures by Jonathan key or Minima YC.

Ranelagh SC Merlin Rocket Downriver Race 6 September

A fixture on the Merlin Rocket calendar not to be missed is the Ranelagh SC Downriver Race.  Not only is the format special, the race also starts from the Putney Embankment, the spiritual home of the Merlin Rocket.

The event drew an excellent 31 boat fleet which included ‘Kate’ MR1, through to modern Winders and almost everything in between.  Tamesis Club was represented by Joe Mclaughlin and Sean Roberts in MR3724 ‘Sublime’, and Tim Medcalf and Valerie Hamill in MR596 ‘Samanda’.

As the name suggests, the Downriver Race sees the fleet go down the Thames on the back of the last of the outgoing tide before making a turn at slack tide and then coming back upriver benefiting from the incoming tide.  That’s the theory at least!

There was a real buzz on the embankment as boats were rigged in the sunshine and tactics were discussed over coffee and bacon rolls regarding how to stay above the line considering the outgoing tide and light winds.

The 10-4-1 start sequence resulted in a LeMans-style departure at the 4 minute hooter with helms jostling for position while avoiding being push downriver too soon.

Once set on its way, the fleet spilled downstream hoisting a colourful array of spinnakers just after Putney Railway Bridge.  The breeze filled in a little at this point and the downwind leg was a joy.  The fleet split in to two with both Tamesis boats in the front group.

All too soon, Chelsea Bridge hove in to view with the turn mark anchored just in front.  Making the turn, it was evident that the wind had picked up and there was a lively beat back up the river.

By this time, the second group on the water had caught up and the tacking was fast and furious with crews all seeking a path between the shallows, moorings, bridges and each other.  After the ease of the trip down, the return was work.

Eventually, we arrived back in Putney where tired crews were pleased to sit down for a beer, an excellent lunch and chat, most of which centred on simply how great it was to be back on the water.

Vintage boats took the top three places and the event was won by Rob Cage from Thames SC with Alex Jackson second and John Bell third.  As a side note for those who are interested in the details, the dominant designs were Adur 7s and Proctor MK12s, all these front-running boats had had significant modifications and were impressive machines sailed by top crews.

Joe and Sean finished in the top 10, Tim and Valerie two thirds of the way down.

There are plans to run two downriver races next year and many good reasons to enter so it’s worth keeping an eye on the MROA calendar for details as Ranelagh SC extends a warm welcome.



Sunday racing – 30 August

The club’s ‘new normal’ Sunday routine swung in to action again with three races being run in a Covid-compliant manner.  A Northerly breeze meant an up/down course with enough shifts to keep things interesting.

A slightly diminished Laser fleet was off first and saw perennial front runner Marcus Chavasse being put to the sword by Kaan Yargici.  This pair traded the lead with Marcus coming home 30 seconds ahead of Kaan, a much narrower gap than in previous outings.  Some way behind, Chris Taggart bested Class Captain John Edmondson.

The Topper fleet welcomed Arun and Leela Siebert-Patel who have transitioned to racing after joining the Saturday afternoon Juniors coaching.  Both participated enthusiastically, showing commitment and promise for the future; we look forward to seeing them become a regular part of the racing.  While the start was dominated by the five Toppers, it also included Ed Medcalf in an Optimist who went on to surprise himself by achieving fourth place on handicap.  Matty Key and Henry Medcalf continued their rivalry, on this occasion Henry winning with Matty in second making a mental note to remember his bung before launching…..  Alfie Williams was a game third.

Despite being adjudged over the line at the start, Richard and Maddie Harris came home clear winners in the Merlin Rocket fleet ahead of a determined sail by Matt and Arthur P-J.  Behind them, a knot of five boats, lead by David Baker and Jim Green, finished in the space of two minutes with all enjoying the ebb and flow of river racing with frequent places change along the way.

The volunteers did an excellent job as ever ,with thanks being extended to Carolyne Vines who not only ran the racing as OOD but also segued seamlessly to also manage the Veranda Bar, Henry Defries who assisted Carolyne with flags and signals, and Martin Adams and Jim Hamilton who ran the patrol boat.  All photographs were taken by Jonathan Key.