Tamesis Club

Tamesis Club sailors in the chocolates at Broadwater SC Laser Super Sprints

Having competed last year, Henry Medcalf was delighted to be invited back to Broadwater SC to take part in the club’s excellent Laser Super Sprint format on 30 April.  A series of six 20-25 minute races around a tight course which put an emphasis on starting and accuracy of manoeuvres.

The host club was also kind enough to offer your correspondent the loan of a club Laser which was much appreciated.

Conditions were light, patchy and shifty with the whole event run in glorious sunshine.  Ideal for river-raised sailors!

However, there was enough wind to get around and the 15 strong fleet enjoyed some really close racing with each mark being a case of nip and tuck.

Henry took two firsts in the afternoon races and finished second overall, which was much appreciated by his grandparents who had been spectating from the bank – no pressure!  Henry also won First Junior.  In case you are wondering, his Dad came in fifth having enjoyed a few father-son duels, and also collected some of Mr Cadbury’s products.

The Laser Super Sprints is an excellent format and everyone felt that they had taken a lot from the experience.  Thank you to Broadwater SC for being such warm and generous hosts, Brian Deacon for providing the pictures, and Stewart Colley for the loan of his Laser combi trailer.

‘Ton up’ for Tamesis Club Training Team

After an inevitable hiatus due to the pandemic, the club launched a new RYA training timetable at the beginning of the 2022 which features a combination of weekend training for adult beginners and week-long kids camps during the school holidays.

We are delighted that Tom Bull, who was the leader of the camps last summer, agreed to become the club’s Chief Instructor and also that Matty Key has joined the ranks of our RYA-qualified Dinghy Instructors.  Matty is a great example of home-grown talent and we are actively looking to develop more youngsters along the same path this year.

The club has supported the new program, and also the club’s general sailing infrastructure which is available to all members, by making investments in refurbishing existing boats with the Laser 2000s and all Toppers having been updated and new sails purchased.  Also, an additional, modern Wayfarer has been acquired which means that we now have two boat that are ideal for training and also for families and social sailors.

The adult courses are run on a single weekend, with trainees spending full days at the club; this has the added benefit that they can see the club in action during Junior Sailing, social sailing, and Sunday morning racing.  The training is for RYA Level 1 and Level 2 courses and enable trainees to reach the standard where they can sail without an instructor in a club boat.  It is great that so many are now joining the club – please make them welcome and extend a helping hand if needed.


The kids camps will follow the same format as in previous years.  As an innovation, we have trialled a camp during the Easter break which proved to be very successful and we look forward to welcoming many of those children to one of the summer camps too.  While the focus of the weeks is on having fun, the children also earn on of the RYA Stages certificates.

The camps have had a very loyal following since they started in 2019 and we now have many youngsters who have gained Stage 4 or are close to it.  Another innovation for 2022 is the addition of an Advanced Week camp where we will be looking at some of the RYAs Advanced Modules and pushing this more experienced group to really develop their skills.

Looking at the current level of bookings, the club will issue more than 100 RYA certificates this year.  There are still a few places available on weekend courses and the summer camps (mainly the weeks of 22 and 29 August) so don’t delay if you would like to enrol for yourself or on behalf of someone else (non-members are welcome).

Tim Medcalf is coordinating the training programs and can be contacted via the contact form on the RYA Training page, by phone, or via Whatsapp.



Ranelagh SC Downriver Race 7 May 2022

A highlight of the Merlin Rocket and general river racing calendar, the RSC Downriver Race doesn’t disappoint.

Tamesis Club was represented by Peter and Alison Cooper in MR1939 ‘Warhorse’ and Tim and Ed Medcalf in MR596 ‘Samanda’, the latter boat making a return to her birthplace of 67 years ago on the Putney Embankment.

As ever, RSC extended an incredibly warm welcome to the 20 crews with outstanding bacon rolls, tea and coffee providing a very welcome mid-morning energy boost before the anticipated 12.15 departure.

The fleet was diverse, as you would expect from a development class, with sail numbers ranging from 1 to 3815.  There were also a number of long-established crews who had come to test their mettle on the Tideway.

The midday race briefing confirmed a 10 minute gun would be sounded at 12.35 with the club employing its own 10-4-1 sequence.  Guidance was also given about when spinnakers could be set and the rules of the road regarding the bridges.

The tide still ebbing, crews were conscious of the need to do some work to stay above the line.  At the gun, the fleet turned downstream with the majority opting to head to the right hand bank to take advantage of the strongest  stream.

After a decidedly mid-fleet start, and finding themselves boxed in, Team Samanda gybed clear to windward and found enough breeze to take the lead shortly after the sweep under the Putney railway bridge.  Helm advised crew to enjoy the experience while it lasted!

These turned out to be wise words as the fleet gathered itself and a lead group broke free.  The wind then picked up to a meaningful level and there was some spirited beating around the bend which then opened back to a reach and more beating on the approach to the turn mark at Battersea Park.

Despite there being only one mark, many boats were caught out by the fact that the buoy had been laid in approx a fathom and half of water but on a 30ft rope.  Many, your correspondent and also the crew of Warhorse having to make multiple attempts at a clean rounding.  Which was frustrating.

Spinnakers were set by those who had them on the way back.  Warhorse using the kite to great effect to start picking off boats and working back up through the fleet.

Spinnakerless, Samanda relied on the insight of her junior crew who called the gybes which saw her remain in contention at the rear of the front group.

The final act was a beat back up to the finish line in a fresher breeze.  After nearly an hour and 45 minutes of racing, the line was tantalisingly close but wasn’t making it easy for crews to finish.  Fittingly, three vintage Holt Martines slugged it out at this point, right in front of the building where they were built in the mid-50s.

Klaxon blasts from the shore signalled the end of what had been a superb outing.  Samanda’s crew came in seventh and Warhorse 14th, both having had their moments to savour.

RSC surpassed themselves with a fantastic lunch which all competitors enjoyed together sitting along tables in the clubhouse – a very convivial end to the day.

Congratulations to Rob and Hatty Cage who won the event, again schooling the rest of the fleet about how to sail on the river.  Peter Impey was awarded the 2021 DeMay prize for Most Original Boat and took the opportunity to promote the Tamesis Club Merlin Rocket weekend on 21 and 22 May.

Ed Medcalf was quietly rather satisfied to win First Junior having suddenly re-focused his full crewing powers when he saw his opposition bearing down in the last quarter of the race.

RSC will be running their Upriver Race/Merlin Open on 23 October and hope for another strong turnout.  At a time when the Tideway, the spiritual home of the Merlin Rocket, is under threat as a sporting venue it would be excellent to have another strong attendance from Tamesis Club to help create a bumper fleet.  Put the date in your diary!

Thanks to the RSC team for a fantastic day and providing the photographs, and also to Craftinsure for sponsoring the generous prize fund.

The Laser fleet warms up for the Summer Series

Here is Jim Hamilton’s account of what was an excellent afternoon on the river.  Pictures from John Edmondson:

It was blustery and cold when nine keen Laser sailors of all ages gathered on Saturday to get tips from Matt PJ on how to improve their sailing. Tips included what to flip to avoid the dreaded snagged line when gybing, and to apply the magical silicon spray to the blocks for extra slick mainsheet handling.

Having launched, Matt and son Arthur, with John Edmonson as boat driver, cruised around offering wise advice and rescues when required. It was originally intended to have two afloat sessions, however launching was awkward in the east wind and conditions not good near Tamesis, so we all headed above the island for just one session, finishing with a couple of short races, before repairing ashore for tea, biscuits and analyses.

There were a number of capsizes including myself when the wind backed while attempting not to cross the starting line. Thanks are due to John for organising and Matt for executing an enjoyable and instructive afternoon.

Winter Series racing 27 March 2022

The Winter Series is now complete.  Once all the results have been collated, a series wrap-up will be created and published including many of the highlights, moments of bathos, and of pathos from what was a thoroughly enjoyable series.

In the meantime, here are the words of the Commodore and the pictures from Chris Ward regarding the final outing:

This Sunday’s races were contested in a promising north-easterly wind with little stream.  This was the last week of racing trialling the proposed new starting sequence.

OOD Marcus Chavasse set a dogleg course (O) for the early (Blue) series races but set a longer  course (K) for the Geoff Cooper Trophy race for the Merlins.  The Lasers and N18s raced on the original course for their White series races.  Several boats misjudged the downstream starts and there were individual recalls in three of the races.

Five Merlins started their first race which was won by Matt P-J, crewed by Lyra Wade, with Peter Mason, crewed by Richard Mason, second and Joe Woods, crewed by Ken Duffell, third.  Four Lasers started their first race which was won by Matty Key, with Jim Hamilton second and Mattie Valentine third.  Three N18s started the N18/Handicap race.  Henry Defries, crewed by Carolyne Vines, was first on the water with Alistair Banks, crewed by Caroline Stilwell, second but Mal Warner, crewed by Beatrice Russ, did not finish.

Eleven Merlins entered the Geoff Cooper Trophy race for which a longer course was set.  It was won by Richard Harris, crewed by Emma McDonald, with Peter Mason, crewed by Richard Mason, second and Andrew Harris, crewed by Matty Key, a tight third, just ahead of David Baker, crewed by Jim Green.  Three Lasers started the second race which was won by Mattie Valentine, with Alexey Anatskiy second and Jim Hamilton, third.  The N18 race was won, on the water in a very tight finish, by Henry Defries, crewed by Carolyne Vines, with Alistair Banks, crewed by Caroline Stilwell, a close second and Mal Warner, crewed by Beatrice Russ, third.

My thanks to Marcus Chavasse as OOD, assisted by Nicky Cavasse and Humphrey Dorrell in the Box.  Also thanks to Martin Thomas and Brian Harper-Lewis for manning the Patrol Boat.

My thanks also go to Alaphia, back from her travels, who produced a chicken curry with accompaniments, followed by ice cream with chocolate sauce.  Also thanks to Yann, who ran Phil’s Bar and to Alice Lodge and Sophie Merriweather Harris who assisted Alaphia.

Winter Series racing 20 March 2022

The sunny conditions suggested that Spring was on the verge of being sprung but it was hard to escape the realities of a beastly, puffy, fickle Easterly and a more than sufficient flow in the river following the recent Saharan sand-infused rains.

Clearly a number of alarm clocks had been re-programmed since last week’s outing and there were plenty of boats ready to race the new timetable.  The box crew of Ken Duffell and Joe Woods served up a simple course with a niggly rounding in a patch of very intermittent wind at the Lensbury turn; surprisingly there was only one boat that failed to regain its momentum here and had to be recovered before meeting a grisly end at the weir.

Once again, the club saw a strong turn out from our youth and Juniors with Matty Key, Leela Siebert-Patel, Lyra Wade, Matt Valentine, Bethan Roberts and Henry Medcalf all racing well on a testing day.  Junior Sailing restarts in a month and it has been excellent to witness so many of that group racing through the winter and developing their skills; there are now many Juniors happily flying Merlin Rocket spinnakers, and the Laser fleet has seen many fresh faces taking the podium places.  Congratulations to all who have taken part and we look forward to watching you compete in the upcoming Saturday afternoon Topper series.

Taking a few weeks away from the racing seems to have done Team Mason a power of good as they rediscovered their speed bagging a first and a second in the two Merlin Rocket races.

After a blip in the first race, Andy Harris and Matty Key won the second outing.  David Baker and Jim Green, Tim Medcalf and Bethan Roberts, and Charlie Morgan and Tim Ginn also graced the podium.  There was also some excellent racing further down the fleet with Rupert Fletcher and James Berry showing some form, John and Zoe Adams mixing it up, and Matt P-J and Lyra being there or thereabouts.

Class Captain John Edmondson pulled out a win in the first Laser race from Jim Hamilton and Henry Medcalf.  In the second outing there was no catching Henry ‘No Numbers’ Medcalf who prevailed with Chris Taggart in second and Vice Commodore Peter Johnson in third.  We look forward to seeing a strong Laser fleet again next week as it will be a good opportunity to tune up for the Summer Series.

The third start saw a brace of N18s joined by an Enterprise and the club’s new Wayfarer.  The Commodore crewed by Alastair Banks finished first on the water in both races after some keen racing with Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines but, as ever, only the application of mathematics will determine the true winner.

Next week sees the last of the Winter Series racing.  It’s an opportunity to qualify or improve your scores with one final race, or simply tune up ready for the upcoming Summer Series.  Keep an eye on the website, Whatsapps, and Tammy Matters for more information.

Don’t forget that, in addition to running club racing on Sunday mornings, the ever-popular Thursday evening series starts in May.  The Junior Topper series mentioned above will form part of the weekly Junior Sailing activities (starting in April) so that the youngsters have the river to themselves.

Thanks from the club to Ken and Joe for running the box, Clive Mence and John Kemp for running the patrol boat, Alaphia and her supporting kitchen and bar crew for serving up lunch and drinks, and to Chris Wade for another batch of excellent pictures.





Paddle for Peace

An update from the club’s SUP Class Captain Leah Fraser:

On Saturday March 12th Tamesis hosted a Paddle for Peace to raise money for Save the Children’s Ukraine Fund.  These paddles have popped up across the sup community all round England and our own one was held in tandem with Paddleboard London who were setting out from Camden at the same time as us.

23 paddlers in a mix of kayaks, paddleboards and even a row-sup turned up to Tamesis Club in blue, yellow & sunflowers (Ukraine’s national flower) and set out for a blustery paddle to Kingston bridge.
Tim kindly helmed the Safety boat, which also carried a couple of junior spectators along for the ride. We had some junior club members out on the water too and for many it was their first paddle back on the water this year. Hopefully for most this will mark the start of the new season onboard.
It was a leisurely paddle in windy conditions but we had beautiful winter sun on the return journey with the wind behind us.
We raised around £500 and donations are still coming in for this great cause, Save The Children, which will go straight to helping children and families caught up in the conflict. Thank you all who attended and supported.

Winter Series racing 27 February 2022

Here are some descriptive words from the Commodore and pictures from Chris Wade and Carolyne Vines:

‘This Sunday’s races were contested in a strongish southerly wind which appeared to have occasional lulls, combined  with a moderate stream.  Nine Lasers started this week with Marcus Chavasse winning, Matty Key second and Jim Hamilton third. The Enterprise race, contested by five boats this week, was won by Ed Mayley, crewed by Rob Mayley, with Alex Cane, crewed by David Cane, second and Robin Broomfield, crewed by Diane Keighley, third.  A lone reefed Topper, helmed by Lyra Wade, represented the Handicap Class but there were no N18s racing this week.   Seven Merlins entered the tenth of the Traveller sub-series and the race was won by Joe McLaughlin, crewed by Sean Roberts, with David Baker, crewed by Jim Green, second and Stewart Jenkins, crewed by Nicola Scaddan, third.

My thanks to Charles Fox as OOD, assisted by Robert Blakebrough in the Box.  Also thanks to Simon Thompson and Holly Rosevear for manning the Patrol Boat, to David and Yaan who ran Phil’s Bar and to Chloe who helped Alaphia in the Kitchen.’

Prize Giving February 2022

Despite the mayhem that has been caused by C-youknowhat-19, the club’s sporting fraternity had done enough competing to earn the assorted silver and glassware that Henry Defries, the club’s official ‘Trophy Wrangler’, had laid out in an impressive display on Sunday morning.

The Rear Commodore Sailing, emboldened by a Rebellion or two, tried his best to deliver an equally impressive display by compeering the event, perhaps only confirming that he is a funny fellow if not actually amusing.

The Vice Commodore filled in for the lurgy-afflicted Commodore and did the serious work of ‘give, grip, grin’.

Confirming his reputation for not being able to judge a room, the Rear Commodore Sailing failed to adopt the JFDI principle, and decided to open proceedings with his recap of the year passed.  Among the many highlights, consistent and competitive Sunday racing, record Thursday evening fleets, Junior Sailing going from strength to strength, many new sporting members, a renewed focus on RYA training, expanded summer camps calendar, Enterprise and Merlin travellers, a lively participation in Virtual Regatta, and some joke about mast-top milk bottles.

And then, finally, the prizes were handed over with the results recorded below for posterity:

Brian Corking collects the Virtual Regatta America’s Cup prize – eat your heart out Sir Ben!
Sue Harris collects the Merlin Rocket Bridger Cup on behalf of Richard Harris and Emma McDonald, with Andy Harris and Matty Key key in second, Peter and Richard Mason in third.
Ken Duffell and Joe Woods collect the Merlin Rocket Summer Handicap trophy. John and Zoe Adams were second, David Baker and Jim Green third.

The Laser Summer shield was won by Chris Taggart, with Stewart Colley in second and Ros Warwick-Haller in third.

The Laser Reilly Cup was won by Jim Hamilton, with Stewart Colley and Chris Taggart tied for second place.
The N18 Burnett Langdon Down trophy was won by Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines, Chis Pollard and Alastair Banks second, Charles Fox and Robert Blakeborough third.
The Thursday evening Saga Trophy was won by Matt P-J, with Tim Medcalf and Jennifer Falconer Hall second, Ken Duffell and Matthew Valentine third. Matt P-J also won the Thursday evening GW Smith Trophy with Andy Harris and Matty Key second, Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines third.
The N18 Thursday evening Silver Boat trophy was won by Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines.
Alastair Banks collects the N18 Claude Russell Cup won while crewing for Chris Pollard.
Peter Mason collects the Centenary Cup and the Restless Trophy.
People’s choice Stewart Colley sees the funny side as he collects the Turtle Trophy.

Inspired by recent storms, the Rear Commodore Sailing then proved to be a windbag himself as he outlined the packed program for the year ahead which includes a number of innovations that will enable all of the club’s members to get involved on the water more often.  He also thanked many parties who make sailing possible at the club and name-checking Jim Green who has the (literally) thankless task of running Dutyman, and Paul Jamieson who has long provided invaluable support making all of the powerboats and other equipment fit for purpose.

Everyone realised they were a winner as, mercifully, the Rear Commodore Sailing soon ran out of things to say and prizes to distribute two minutes before the 13.30 watershed.  The Vice Commodore then awarded the Commodore’s favours in the form of the Ambassador’s Awards (Carolyne Vines for service to our local RYA region) and the Commodore’s Award (Andy Harris for services to Junior Sailing).

Carolyne Vines flies the Ambassador’s Award for services to our local RYA region.
Andy Harris cradles the Commodore’s Award for service to Junior Sailing.

And then, just like that, it was over and everyone was able to get back to Alaphia’s delicious food, drinks from the bar, and a large dose of chitchat.

My thanks to Henry Defries who wrangled the trophies with aplomb, Peter Johnson for subbing for the Commodore at short notice, and to Chris Wade for recording it all with his memory maker.

I look forward to seeing you all on the water in the coming year and who knows, at the next Prize Giving, ‘it could be you’!

The presentation team – proudly sponsored by Specsavers.




Winter Series racing 20 February 2022

By the time Sunday’s racers came to the club, volunteers had cleared away the debris caused by Friday’s storms.  While the bits of broken boat had been removed so as not to upset any competitors of a sensitive disposition, the windy menace remained and evidenced itself in the form of some meaty gusts that swept across the boatpark and then whipped up the surface of the river.

It seemed inevitable that many of the assembled peacocks would be feather dusters before the clubhouse bar opened.  Mindful of this risk, the N18s and visiting Enterprises made their excuses well in advance of their start sequence.

The compact Laser fleet welcomed new member Kai Wohlfahrt who had certainly picked his day to join the fray!

Lead by Laser Class Captain John Edmondson, the awesome foursome entered the ring and were soon practising their dry capsize techniques.  Impressive stuff and, surprised by the synchronised (again!) gymnastics on show, the wind briefly reconsidered it approach to creating maximum mayhem; and then started blowing again.

A Westerly is a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, the club will set a reaching course, maybe with the added spice of a dogleg, on the other it means that the wind comes across the land to the river so making it harder to spot the proper puffs as they are effectively bouncers delivered off a spinner’s runup.  Last week’s Southerly at least provided a visible warning of trouble as the wind darkened the surface many tens of metres before it arrived; not that that stopped the Laser fleet from being skittled while going downhill due to failing to look in the rearview.

The box team of Peter and Richard Mason kept the course compact and spectators were treated to boats being squirted along the river, and occasionally capsizing before being pushed forwards again.

Seasoned campaigner Matt P-J took almost everything in his stride including the bullet for the day.  Newcomer Kai came in a more than creditable second and we look forward to seeing him become a regular member of the fleet.  John Edmondson was third and Alexey Anatskiy brought up the rear.

The Merlin Rockets were five in number and set off in what felt like a slightly stronger breeze that was soon made to appear abundantly manageable as all of the crews warmed up.  Heading to the windward mark for the first time, it was last week’s winners Ken Duffell and Joe Woods who held the lead, could lightning strike twice?

‘No’ was the answer, but what did strike the spectators was that the different styles and vintages of boat were very closely matched for speed on a reaching course.  Over a 30 minute race, only relatively small gaps emerged, with positions being determined by crews’ ability to be in the right place at the right time to catch the best gusts.

Joe Mclaughlin and Sean Roberts lead for much of the race but a missed gust allowed Andy Harris and Matty Key to find a way through and take a narrow victory.  Gentleman racer Charlie Morgan and Tim Ginn came in third followed by Duffell and Woods, with Peter Impey and Alison Cooper in a close fifth.  All crews showed good style, kept themselves out of the tide, and had no use for the righting lever.

Thanks to the box team of Peter and Richard Mason, Chris Balmbro, Barney Smith/Matt P-J in the patrol boat, the kitchen and bar tea, as well as our resident paparazzi Chris, Jonathan, Alastair, and Carolyne.

The racing was followed by drinks, a fine hot lunch, and the annual Prize Giving; the awards ceremony is the subject of an adjacent news article!