Tamesis Club

Winter Series racing 16 January 2022

It might be the Winter Series but the club is enjoying seeing some really good fleets and is especially delighted to welcome our growing band of visitors.  All we need now is for some equally enthusiastic wind to turn up to the party!

Having said that, sailing in light conditions tests a different section of the ‘How to Sail’ manual and for those who have done their homework, the rewards will come.

This was certainly the case in the Laser class where Henry Medcalf lead a fleet of seven from start to finish despite having to correct a couple of navigational errors and also doing some penalty pirouettes.  Behind him was the Aussie battler Brendon Hills, and then Matthew Valentine.

The 11.00 start has suddenly become a lively affair with a slew of visiting and home Enterprises’ blue sails mixing in with the N18s.  Many of our blue-sailed competitors are all on the familiar Tammy newcomer’s learning curve, especially when it comes to rounding the windward mark in light airs with a bit of stream running.  Rumour has it that even more Enterprises will be joining us next week!

Henry Defries, crewed by Carolyne Vines, won the N18 race with Chris Pollard, crewed by Alistair Banks, second.   The Enterprise race was won by Ed Mayley, crewed by James Budden, from Minima, with N18 stalwart Charles Fox, crewed by Robert Blakebrough second, and Chris Rowsell, crewed by Alistair Stewart third.


A baker’s dozen of Merlin Rockets, including our own David Baker of course, addressed the start line for a departure that reminded many of how narrow the river is, especially as no one fancied a run up the middle.  The fleet’s arrival at the windward mark coincided with the presence of an assortment of boats from earlier starts, several of which were showing their boat control skills by managing to maintain forward momentum that exactly matched the speed of the opposing stream.  Inevitably, this resulting in rafting that Thor Heyerdahl would have paused to admire; being a man of the world he would have appreciated the invective that accompanied proceedings.

At the front, there was a familiar pattern as Joe McLaughlin and Sean Roberts wriggled ahead of Richard Harris and Emma McDonald.  However, competition is fierce in the Merlin fleet and with about two thirds distance covered, Richard and Emma retook the lead.  Joe and Sean had to settle for second, with visitor Stuart Jenkins and Nicola Scadden third home (clearly getting the hang of Tamesis conditions), and Andy Harris with Matty Key next.

Further down the fleet there was some chopping and changing of positions with another solid result from Matt P-J and Lyra Wade, and even your correspondent and Flora Laidlow maybe finding some light wind speed (maybe!).

Many thanks to Mike Adams as OOD assisted by Jennifer in the Box, to Martin Thomas and Chris Wade for manning the Patrol Boat, Chloe and Yann who ran Phil’s Bar, and Alaphia for serving an excellent lunch.  Also to Jonathan Key and Chris Wade for the pictures in this article and on this link https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1XRU8097v4r93MTnN_uIZBI3maosIhXqg?usp=sharing  (which are apparently a useful tuning aid for the keen observer and have developed quite a following as a result……!).




Winter Series racing 9 January 2022

The day started with Peter Impey being awarded the Merlin Rocket DeMay Vintage series Porridge Bowl for having raced the most original boat during the 2021 season.

The club was pleased to welcome a pair of Enterprises to the start line and look forward to the possibility of more joining next week.

The race conditions presented the usual Tammy wintery challenge of fickle, light wind and a stream of material influence. The racing was therefore tricky.

Henry Medcalf prevailed in the Lasers, narrowly beating Chris Taggart by 11 seconds, with Peter Johnson in third.

Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines won the N18s after a navigational error by the Commodore crewed by Alastair Banks.

Chris Rowsell crewed by Matt Jones won the Enterprise duel from Peter Bide crewed by Alistair Stewart by a slender 12 second advantage.

Richard and Emma took the bullet in the Merlins from Andy and Matty, with Joe and Sean in third – a very tight battle for the top spot continues.

Thanks to Charles Fox, Robert Blakeborough, John Edmondson, and Matt P-J for running the box and the boat, Chloe and Yann for running the bar, Jonathan and Carolyne for the pix.

The 2022 racing calendar gets going

Despite the challenges of another Covid-ravaged festive period a goodly number of souls made it to the club for the first Sunday’s racing of 2022. The conditions were streamy, puffy, and gloomy enough for the photographers to need their flashguns.

We were particularly pleased to see Merlin Rocket stalwart Stuart Jenkins and crew Nicola Scadden bring one of their fleet, the venerable Holt Martine ‘Chindit’, to Tamesis Club for the Travellers Series.

In the Lasers, Matthew Valentine overcame a poor start to win the first race of the year leading in Chris Taggart and Jim Hamilton.

The Commodore Chris Pollard, crewed by Alistair Banks, opened his new year account with a bullet by winning the N18 race.

The Merlin Fleet was well-attended, even with a few regulars side-lined, and there was some entertainment throughout. Star starter was Peter Impey, crewed by Alison Cooper, who surprised many but not himself by being one of the first to round the windward mark; one to watch in 2022.

Newcomer Stuart Jenkins eased himself in to the Tamesis environs finishing a creditable fourth.

Sail of the day came from a very focused Charlie Morgan who was breaking in new crew and Laser class regular Alexey Anatskiy; their third was a strong finish.

Out in front, Andy Harris and Matty Key flew a ‘holey kite’ (in deference to the festive season?) to good effect and pulled clear of the fleet to best Richard and Maddie Harris. Maybe others should have done the same?

One or two of the fleet will be wondering where their speed went over the break, while others will be feeling quite bullish as the gaps were certainly reduced.

Thanks to regular race report readers Jim Green and David Baker for manning the box, Joe and Hugh Mclaughlin for running the patrol boat, and to Josefine for pouring the refreshments. Also to Jonathan Key and Carolyne Vines for providing the pictures.

Winter Series racing, Sunday 19 December, and a look forward to 2022

An unpromising misty, moisty early morning proved to be a cheeky camouflage for enough of a breeze for everyone to have a race around a short course set in front of the clubhouse.

Jon Redding again took the bullet in the Laser fleet but was harried by N18 refugee Alastair Banks, with Henry Medcalf not far behind in third.

N18 sailor Henry Defries bested Charles Fox on the water, but we wait to see what the abacus has to say about the true winner on adjusted time.

In the Merlin Rockets, Joe and Sean beat Richard and Emma, possibly due to the extra down-wind advantage accruing from the large ears on the crew’s Christmas hat.  Another tight race at the front with some entertaining battles further down the fleet.  ‘Sail of the Day’ coming from Matt P-J who launched crewless, then collected the late-running Lyra, started last in a fleet of 10 and worked back to a close fifth at the finish.

Many thanks to David P-J and Fleur Moree for running the box, Chris Pollard and Alison Cooper for driving the launch, Jonathan Key for the pictures, and to the bar and kitchen team for serving up drinks and a hot lunch.

That’s it for formal sailing in 2021.  The next Winter Series racing will be on Sunday 2 January 2022.

Despite the issues and restrictions that have been in place, 2021 has been a fantastic year on the water.  New social and racing members, well-attended and competitive Sunday racing, fantastic Thursday evening fleets,  the continued development of an enthusiastic and skilled Junior section, the emergence of a lively SUP group whose race provided the highlight of the club’s Annual Regatta, Open meetings, summer camps, OOD and patrol boat training, the list goes on.

Delivering this level of activity shows the resilience within the club and is testament to the tireless input of the club’s volunteer group, be that the OOD and patrol boat volunteers rostered by Jim Green and Dutyman, the work of the Wednesday Morning Working Party (especially the Commodore and his labours on the unspeakable grease trap, and Paul Jamieson for keeping the powered boats in tiptop shape), the House team for providing refreshments despite many obstacles, the Class Captains and John Adams for staying on top of the results, Henry Defries for wrangling the trophies, Andy and Nim Harris succeeded by Griff Tanner and Matt P-J for running Junior Sailing supported by the willing band of parent helpers, and Jonathan Key, Chris Wade and Carolyne Vines for taking the pictures which bring the reports on this website to life.

2022 promises plenty of new news in terms of the development of the sporting side of the club.  This includes the return of RYA sail training, an expansion of our children’s holiday sailing and watersports camps, an exciting update to Sunday racing, a refresh of our fleet of club boats, as well as the launch of Summer Social Saturdays.  Lots to look forward to!

Christmas Pudding races, full of twists and turns

On the Tamesis Club ‘course decoder’ a ‘Course X’ is the catch-all for a course that defies the standard, accepted conventions.  Course X isn’t displayed that often but in a fit of frivolous festive fun making, it was deployed by OOD Jon Redding on Sunday for the annual Christmas Pudding races.

The resultant criss-crossing of the river had a method to its madness; given the light winds and stream, the OOD was putting the onus on boat handling and consistency rather than outright speed.  The outcome was some of the closest racing we have seen for a while.

Nine Lasers were the first to enter the labyrinth and it was telling that, despite the light conditions, only five navigated the course sufficiently accurately to emerge with a score.  Maybe the others were paying the price for one too many early festive indulgences?  Brendan Hill, who has sworn off the demon drink specifically to be able to master complex courses, reaped one of the many rewards of abstinence by taking first place, followed by Ros W-H, and Matthew Valentine.

The N18 Class Captain Henry Defries and Alastair Banks soloed to the finish, passing marks on the correct sides all the way round, and was happy to be given the points for this week’s sortie; an early Christmas present of sorts from the rest of the N18 fleet.  There are rumours that the Commodore will be trying different sails when he returns to the water so maybe that will add some spice in the New Year?

The Merlin Rockets by contrast saw a strong turn out and some even stronger racing at the front with Richard Harris and Emma, overhauling long time leaders Joe Mclaughlin and Sean Roberts at the last; keen F1 fans will recognise some parallels to the other big race of the day.  Both crews felt that had worked hard for their post-race refreshments.  David Baker and Jim Green held third for a while but were overtaken by Andy Harris and Matty Key who rounded out the podium.

As things stand, based on the best five Merlin Rocket results, we have two boats in joint first, with third just one point behind, and a number still in contention for podium spots.  As winter beckons, it’s all to play at the front and lots of fun to be had at the back!

After packing up boats and returning to the clubhouse, sailors and other assembled members, were greeted by a free drink from the bar, chocolates, and warmed mince pies.  This triumvirate of good things fueled some lively chat while some younger members were glued to the start of proceedings in Abu Dhabi on the big screen.

As is customary at this time of year, competitors were awarded some festive sweetmeats in the form of chocolates and puddings.

Thanks are due to Jon Redding and Caroline Stilwell for serving up some refreshingly different racing, David Jones and Toby Powell-Blyth for patrolling the river and dragging home your correspondent his boat performed an unscheduled buoyancy test, Chris Wade and Jonathan Key for the photos, Nicky Johnson and the bar staff for supplying goodies for sailors and members.





Another chilly one – Sunday racing 5 December

A damp, wintry nip in the morning air, accompanied by the sight of the trees having abandoned most of their leaves, confirms that the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is at an end, and that the time for sailing fortitude has arrived.

So, not one for the fair weather softies perhaps but the club’s hardy hardcore relished the joys of another impatient (mostly) northerly.

OOD Chris Balmbro, assisted by son William, and Tim Ginn set a relatively deep Lensbury windward mark which stretched the racecourse while keeping all of the competitors in view.  The downwind ride back to the club was interspersed by some lively puffs which caught the unwary.

It was a third week in a row for the Lasers to battle around course K (port) and they were challenged by a meaningful breeze which oscillated enough to make the downwind twitchy.  Kaan Yargici prevailed with Jim Hamilton in second (despite taking a refreshing dip from the high board mid-race), and Class Captain John Edmondson coming in third.

A rare sight on a day with a breeze, Charles Fox and Robert Blakeborough snapped up the points in the N18 fleet by opting for an extremely reefed storm rig and soloing their way to victory.

In the Merlin fleet, a triumvirate of boats sought ultimate triumph and broke free from the fleet at an early stage.  The Harris boys jostled for the lead with Andy overcoming Richard as the race reached its closing phase.  Close behind the front running pair, Joe and Sean sailed with style (see the clip in the Facebook section lower down the website) but lacked speed at the critical points maintain a challenge for the front.  Matt P-J and Leela Siebert-Patel were pipped for fourth by Ken Duffell and Joe Woods in the repaired and less leaky ‘Avenger’.  John Adams and Ros Warwick-Haller generously allowed Tim Medcalf to practise the skills gained on the recent patrol boat induction course and were safely returned, refreshed by the coolth of the river, to terra firma.

A mention in dispatches to Jim Green who, fresh from a tune up, was seen making a welcome return to Chimp’s engine room.

Thanks to Chris, William and Tim for running the (warm, insulated) box, Tim Medcalf and Flora Laidlow for running the (windswept, freezing cold) patrol boat, the Jack, Yann, Josefine, Alaphia for running the (very welcome) bar and serving up a fine lunch, and Jonathan Key and Carolyne Vines for providing the (excellent, as always) pictures.

Alaphia who provided us with a superb curry lunch.  More to come on 19th December

It’s Christmas Pudding races next week along with a free drink from the bar courtesy of the Commodore; both good reasons for all members to come to the club!

A chilly one – Sunday racing 28 November

When getting the boat ready involves firstly cracking a half inch of ice off the frozen pools of water on the cover, you know that Jack Frost has already signed his name on the race sheet.

So it was on Sunday when OOD Joe Mclaughlin, forewarned all competitors that the effective wind-chill would be below zero and claimed regret that he would be stuck inside the warm starting box, wearing a thick mountaineering coat, rather than dicing with the playful north westerly!

And playful it was too, with some proper puffs taking a run up along the river via the Lensbury club and then seeking to scatter the Tamesis Club fleets which either had to work hard to windward, or enjoy a swift ride downhill as a result.

The Lasers were again joined by Jon Redding who was one for whom the downhill ride was a little too much and he sportingly put his boat in the tide just in front of the Smithy, thereby allowing Kaan Yargici to take the lead.  However, Jon was indefatigable and relentlessly clawed his way way back to the front by the gun. Tim Medcalf came in a distant third with the rest of the fleet glad to make it back mostly unscathed.

Once again, the Merlin Rocket race was dominated by the ‘wide’ boat of Andy Harris and Matty key who got stuck in and powered away from Richard Harris and Emma McDonald in second, and Matt P-J and Leela Siebert-Patel in third.

The N18s decided that the weather looked a bit too spicy and consigned themselves to the spectator benches for some vicarious action.

Many thanks to Joe and Sean Roberts in the box, Geoff Malseed and Holly Roseveer in the patrol boat and Yann for running the bar.  Also to Jonathan Key and Carolyne Vines for the pictures.



Fun Sunday Racing in an Autumnal Northerly

They say ‘it’s an ill wind that blows no good’ and while the general population of Teddington Reach may not welcome a lively northerly,  Tamesis Club sailors are delighted to have one come and visit.

It was an easy course selection for the Box team of Peter and Richard Mason, a windward-leeward sausage with the wind providing enough shifts and twists to penalise the inattentive and benefit those who had their eyes out of the boat.

While the course was familiar, the club would like to recognise a couple of firsts.  Leela Siebert-Patel stepping up to crew in a Merlin Rocket under the skilled eye of helm Matt P-J, and also Matthew Valentine who raced his new Laser for the first time.  Well done to both these enthusiastic Juniors, we look forward to seeing you out racing in the coming weeks.

Seven Lasers opened proceedings and they were soon aware of the presence of Jon Redding, but only briefly, as his transom disappeared ahead.  Behind Jon, your correspondent took the opportunity to check his wetsuit still worked just before the first windward mark, had a prolonged swimming lesson, and then remounted at the back of the fleet.  All helms had their moment of needing to ease early, ease less as well as balancing on a swaying hull having been caught by a gust that forced them by-the-lee.  In the end, Jon Redding had a comfortable win from Tim Medcalf who managed to keep ahead of the charging Brendan Hills.

Two N18s took to the water with the Commodore remaining with the landlubbers having decided to let others have all the fun.  Henry Defries romped home with a healthy on-water margin over Charles Fox, but only the handicapper’s slide rule knows who claimed the chocolates on adjusted time.

The wide style Merlin Rockets love some breeze and so it proved as Andy Harris and Matty Key took the line honours from Richard Harris and guest crew Chris Martin, with Matt P-J and Leela in third.  The fleet put on quite a show with spinnakers being de rigueur and some fine seamanship skills being displayed as a couple of crews avoided an early bath.

Definitely a day for blowing away any cobwebs and many contented sailors assembled in the bar afterwards for a well-deserved drink or two.

Thanks again to the Masons in the Box, to Alexey Anatskiy and James Berry in the patrol boat, to the young lads serving the drinks, and to Jonathan Key for the excellent pictures.


Silver Tiller – Gold Target – Bronze Taken

Here follows part three of the very informal ‘Tammy Travels’ series.

The Merlin Rocket class’s Silver Tiller series has long been one of the pre-eminent dinghy racing competitions in the country.  The trophy itself was presented by J Duncan-Ferguson in 1950.

Comprising about 20 race days in a ‘normal’ year, they are categorised as being either sea, open water, or restricted events.  Tamesis Club is selected to host an event on alternate years – not surprisingly, our event falls in to the ‘restricted’ category.

In order to qualify for the final prizes, crews need to complete races at each type of venue which means that the Silver Tiller is an award that recognises the best all-rounder across all disciplines.

There are also prizes for ‘classic’ (registered before 2000) and ‘vintage’ (registered before 1985) boats as well as the Topmast trophy which is awarded to the club with the best-placed three sailors across the season.

Each event also awards prizes for the winners of Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets; this racing is open to MROA members and is determined by level of previous Silver Tiller experience.

So, plenty for everyone to shoot for, regardless of age of boat.

The 2021 Silver Tiller calendar has been back-weighted due to the threat of COVID cancelling events earlier in the year; a sensible move.

Handily, there are several events within a reasonably short drive of Tamesis Club and so Team Seveneye decided to go and have a look.

The first event saw Tim and Flora Laidlow take part at Wembley SC which was the scene of Tim’s last involvement in the Silver Tiller 35 years ago; there were a few flashbacks to a day when the wind boxed the compass and confusion reigned both on the course and in the front end of the boat.

Wembley Sailing Club Merlin Rocket Open 2021. . 24.10.2021 Photographer Sam Pearce

The second outing was to Chichester Yacht Club where Tim and Matty Key gave the racing a go.

Both venues provided the opportunity to really get Seveneye up and moving with three sail reaching/downwinds being the order of the day.  Wembley was breezy, Chichester was just plain windy!

The dinghy racing hardware on display in the boatpark before each event was both intimidating and impressive but this slightly daunting first impression was softened by the warmth of the welcome from members of a high class fleet and home clubs for a crew who were clearly new to the circuit.

There were also a few former Tammy members on hand to provide a tip here and there, thank you Caroline Croft and Mary Henderson.

The racing followed a similar pattern with Team Seveneye making good starts but then being left trailing in the wake of the hotshots to battle with the other less quick crews.  As the old saying goes ‘two boats is a race’ and so it proved with some tight manoeuvring and competition even at the back of the fleet.

Racing three hour-long races back-to-back is a proper outing, especially if one is used to a relatively short, sedate weekly jaunt on the river; taking a bag of snacks was a life-saver.  The Wembley event saw the patrol boat provide each competitor with chocolate and bottles of water between races, most welcome!

What of the results?  Well, Team Seveneye didn’t come last, beat a few boats, learnt a lot, managed some testing conditions which saw more experienced crews retire, collected the Bronze Fleet win at CYC, and had a lot of fun.  Matty discovered the challenge of doing ‘proper’ hiking and is currently building himself a hiking bench so he can practise while doing his homework.  Flora discovered that chocolate cake is the ideal post-sailing recovery food.

The point of recounting this tale is actually to encourage more Tamesis Club racers to have a go at competing ‘abroad’ – we are spoilt for choice in terms of events within our region for all classes of boat and it would be great to see more members taking up the challenge.







2021 Trowlock Trophy Thriller

Early risers gathered at the river’s edge and wondered where the forecast wind was.  Not a sign was to be seen……

……..until the Trowlock Trophy handicap pursuit’s start sequence got under way.  And then there was plenty, coming from all directions!

Four visiting Enterprises lead the way and established an early cadence lapping the windward-leeward course with a frequency that was not anticipated only 30 minutes previously.

Next came a brigade of home and visiting Lasers, some of whom started gamely only to be overwhelmed by the conditions, a few taking early baths, and others hanging it up after some wobbly laps to join the spectators on the shore.

The N18s rigged and then thought better of the idea leaving it to the Merlin Rocket representatives to try and chase down the fast disappearing Enterprises.  Joe and Sean in Lady Anne had bought new sails especially for the event and were soon finding an extra gear and they made up for a tardy start and sliced their way to the head their fleet.

However the Enterprises continued their relentless progress and were not to be denied either by the wise heads in the Merlin Rockets or by the young (and not so young) pretenders in the Lasers.

When the hooter blew and the on-water tally was completed, it showed three visiting Enterprises taking the podium places.  Congratulations to Paul Engelmann and his daughter Katie from QMSC on winning, Chris Rowsell and crew from Lensbury SC for placing second, and Robin Broomfield and Paul Bloomfield from Minima YC for taking third.  Their battle made for super viewing for the land lubber and highlighted the appeal of one design racing.

Other honourable mentions must go to some of the Tamesis Club Juniors, notably Lyra Wade who crewed for Matt P-J in his Merlin Rocket and made it to the finish, also to Matty Key (who took the Tamesis Club Junior Trowlock Trophy) and Matthew Valentine for continuing to showcase the skills of ‘The Young Guns’.

Thanks to Mal Warner and Simon Thompson for running the racing, Johannes Wagner and Beatrice Russ for being busy in the patrol boat, Nicky Johnson for running the bar, Carolyne Vines and Jonathan Key for the photos.