Tamesis Club

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.


Thursday evening race – 20 August

The forecast for the evening of Thursday 20th August was variable, one BBC report suggesting winds varying between 15mph with gusts to 30 mph, another an average of 11mph. However all seemed to indicated that unusually the wind would stay for the duration of he race and hence a long course Canbury/Lensbury was set to take advantage if this rare occurrence.

The race did start with a reasonable wind for the 9 entrants, 5 Lasers, 2 Merlins, an Ultra N18 and a Topper, which defying the predictions but true to form,  died as the race progressed leaving a long race in the gloaming for some.

Matt P-J and Kaan Yargici managed to find the elusive patches of wind to keep the N18 moving and were leaders for all three laps, also managing to save their handicap by a few seconds and win on handicap as well.

They were chased by the two Merlins with Tim and Verinique Medcalf followed by Chris and son William Balmbro.

Behind them the Lasers had a good battle with Chris Taggart pleased that he had ignored a twinge in his back to sail leading them home.  It was good to see Matt Key representing the Juniors in his Topper and beating couple of the Lasers on handicap.

N18 421 Maximus Prime Matt P-J Kaan  Yargici   1
Merlin 596 Samanda Tim Medcalf Veronique Medcalf   2
Merlin 3334 Lovebyte Chris Balmbro William Balmbro   3
Laser 198571 Phew Chris Taggart       4
Laser 197213   Marcus Chavasse       5
Laser 211865   Neville  Upton       6
Topper 44130 Blueberry Pie Matt Key       7
Laser 171688   Alden Horwitz       8
Laser 120555 Shy Talk Jim Hamilton       9
Thanks to the supporting crew of John Adams and Rupert Fletcher on the box, Clive Mence and Martin Adams in the launch, and to Andrew and Debora Horwitz for running the Veranda Bar, helping to bring the evening to a very pleasant close.

Sunday racing – 23 August

The three regular Sunday morning fleets welcomed many regulars and a few newcomers.  The Commodore laid a crowd-pleasing dogleg course to make the most of the westerly breeze, although the eddies at the Lensbury mark proved to be a frustrating, burgee-spinning experience for some.

First off were seven Lasers.  The action was at the front with Marcus Chavasse, Ros Warwick-Haller and Chris Taggart duking it out for supremacy.  Marcus and Ros traded first and second on a number of occasions.  However, there can be only one winner and, in line with recent form, Marcus prevailed to take a comfortable win from Chris, with the Ros fading at the last to finish third.

The Topper and Handicap start saw three Toppers, a National 18 and the rare spectacle of an Optimist take to the line, this last helmed by Ed Medcalf fresh from a few days at the club’s summer camp and making his first foray in to racing.  Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines in the National 18 took the honours on the water and on handicap, with the Toppers of Tom Harris, Henry Medcalf and Matthew Valentine following up.  While Ed brought up the rear, this correspondent can confirm that he very much enjoyed himself will be back for more next week.

After an extended period of time living under cover, the Merlin Rocket fleet welcomed back boat number 1849 ‘My Fair Lady’ now helmed by Alden Horwitz who has also done a sterling job in refurbishing her.  Excellent to see another boat join the Tamesis Merlins especially in the hands of one of our younger skippers.

Fortunes at the first windward mark determined the outcome of the race with Peter and Richard Mason overcoming a rather leisurely start to round in first place.  The equally slow starting Tim and Veronique Medcalf eased round just behind David Baker and Jim Green but found a helpful puff which put them in to second place heading down to Lensbury.  Matt and Arthur P-J also found a way past David and Jim by the end of the first lap and this race order remained until the line with Rupert Fletcher and Amy Bernard in fifth and Alden and Andrew Horwitz in sixth.

Thanks as ever to the volunteers who were Chris Pollard in the box, Sue Harris managing the flags, and John Adams supported by Tim Ginn in the patrol boat.  The ever-welcome Veranda Bar was run by Debora and Andrew Horwitz and the pictures taken by Nicky Chavasse and Carolyne Vines.

Tamesis Club children’s summer camps a great success!

2020 has seen the club run two week-long children’s summer camps.  Two dozen children have spent their days learning theory, doing practical sailing drills on the water, making new friends, falling or jumping in the river, and simply having fun in the club’s grounds.

The club is very grateful to a lot of people who have worked hard to make these weeks happen in the first place, and then to adapt the arrangements to meet the ever-changing Covid requirements.

The coaching team, lead by the RYA’s Ben Kimbell, did a fantastic job of running weeks that enabled the youngsters to earn RYA Stages qualifications in a relaxed and fun-filled environment.  Even when the weather was against them, the team rose to the challenge and maintained the momentum of the week – games involving jumping from the jetties having an endless appeal!

Special mention to our home-grown coaching stars Ben Ramage and Alden Horwitz, and to the contributions of Iwan Drewett and Caitlin Nail who rounded out the team.

The club’s Wednesday Working Party (WWP) erected the marquee which acted as a classroom for each week and then took it down again in short order prior to the recent strong winds.  Thanks to all who helped, it was a great example of the way that the club pulls together.

Another big vote of thanks to the WWP, and especially Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteer Matty Key for their help in checking and preparing the boats that were used during both weeks.  Paul Jamieson also did an outstanding job, in his usual understated way, of making sure that the patrol boats were prepared and also took the time to come down midweek to address any issues so that everything ran smoothly, much appreciated.

The Commodore’s presence was welcomed during the week and thanks also to other senior members who popped in to check on progress.  Thanks to Chris Wade for all pictures.

We hope to run an expanded program in 2021, including some of the elements that we had to cut due to Covid, and full details will be available in due course.


Sunday racing – 16 August

The river was like a millpond when the early birds arrived at the club to start setting up, but the breeze had built to create sailable conditions by the time a compact fleet of four Lasers took to the water.

The action was at the front of the fleet with Chris Taggart and Alden Horwitz contesting a tight first lap.  However, Chris seemed to find an extra gear and extended a narrow lead in to a handsome one by the time the finishing hooter sounded.  Alden came in second, followed at a distance by Jim Hamilton and then Barnaby Jullien.

Two National 18s, one containing The Commodore, joined four Toppers for the 11.00 start.  Both groups enjoyed some tight racing.

In the Toppers, Matty Key overhauled a fast-starting Henry Medcalf to win by two seconds, Maisie Key coming in a close third and Alfie Williams rounding out the quartet.

The National 18 on the water results were not changed by the handicap calculations with Henry Defies and Carolyne Vines claiming a slim victory over Chris Pollard and Sue Katz.

The nine Merlin Rockets were a fine sight as they crossed the start line.  Richard & Maddie Harris, Matt & Arthur P-J and Peter & Richard Mason all made a break for the first mark with Richard making life harder for himself by winging a Topper and having to do a turn.

As the race developed, Richard and Peter pulled away to finish a closer than usual first and second while Tim & Ed Medcalf overhauled Matt for third.  Behind them, a number of boats had their own private battles and it was good to see John and Zoe Adams return to the fray after an extended break.

The volunteer team lead by OOD Charlie Morgan did a sterling job.  An honourable mention to Anne Bayne who coordinated a spectacular display of what could be a record breaking number of signal flags.  Humphrey Dorrell kept the foreshore moving while Barbara and Martin Adams ran the patrol boat.  Thanks as ever to Nicky Johnson and Carolyne Vines for providing post-race drinks and snacks from the Veranda Bar which fueled socially-distanced socialising on the lawns.  Jonathan Key again provided all of the photographs and David Baker did the sums both of which are much appreciated.





August Thursday evening series begins

(Report on Thursday evening race of 6th August 2020)
It could have been any summer Thursday evening, light winds, a few keen sailors trying the catch the last of the evening’s zephyrs, pleasant drinks and chat afterwards.
In fact it was the fist race of a severely truncated Thursday evening program.  While this August may be highly unusual in having 5 Mondays and 5 Saturdays, it only has 4 Thursdays, so the series will be 4 races, with three to count towards some kind of trophy.
It was a beautiful evening with sun and a little wind largely from just west of south.  The seven competitors, 4 Lasers,  2 Merlins and a solitary N18, aptly named Zephyr made up the fleet which were sent upstream to Canbury for a simple sausage course.
Tim and Veronique Medcalf in their Merlin Samanda made the early running but were overhauled by Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines in the N18.
David Baker and Jim Green in their Merlin Andromeda were surprised to find themselves behind all the Lasers and everyone else until a large stick was found attached to their rudder. Freed of their encumbrance they sped through the fleet, providing colour to the evening with their red spinnaker, and just managing to squeeze in front of Marcus Chavasse in his Laser to take third on the water.
On handicap the Lasers were remarkably well spread through the fleet, taking 1,3, 5 and 7 with the other classes interspersed in between.
As per any other Thursday evening, the wind departed and the evening came to a close with a few drinks (thanks to Nicky Johnson and Carolyne on the veranda bar) , but in deference to Covid restrictions, no supper.  Thanks to the organising team, John Adams and Henry Medcalf in the box and on the flags, and the Jamiesons for taking the first shift on the launch while the Johnsons were delayed in traffic.  Nicky Chavasse took the photo.
There will be three more races in August and three are needed to qualify for the series.
The current standings are shown below: