Tamesis Club

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.

Training from Home 33

Several “boats” things cropped up in the news this week.  For example I read that the Neanderthals had boats probably dug out canoes.  As many humans have Neanderthal genes, this may explain which branch of water sports we choose.
It’s a while since I talked about knots and mentioned a really good web site called Animated Knots –  it’s worth a look.
Anyway at the end of the TV series Harlots (adults only), the main character’s hanging is cut short when the rope is rapidly released using a Highwayman’s Hitch! Look it up although it’s not on the RYA syllabus.
This week also sadly saw the death of 60’s rocker Spencer Davis .
By coincidence a dodgy film called ‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush’ for which they provided the music was on telly.
Towards the end (if you stick it out that far) the anti hero goes sailing with his girlfriend.  After a few quite nice shots of boats, he separates from her and the boat displaying the worst fitted buoyancy aid I’ve ever seen.
Rudderless  Sailing is part of the seamanship skills course and also the instructor training pathway.
Essentially the trick is to move the centre of effort of wind on the sail in front of or behind the centre of resistance of the hull and centre board .
We might talk about it in detail next week but for now just enjoy this video
Take a look at this video on You Tube
Our youngsters aren’t quite at that level but love the Oppies

Sailors sayings
Make heavy weather of something

Yachtmaster’s quiz
1.1 If on port tack at night you see a steady bearing green light off the port beam you
Should tack .
1.2 when taking a 3  fix with a hand held compass why should you take the beam reading first?
Incompetent Crew
My friend Roger keeps his boat at Grimsby which is twinned with Bremerhaven .
When the Tall ships ships visit there the Grimsby club get honorary Tall Ship status if they sail over so we decided to give it a bash .
I’ll save that for another day
Stay safe
Eric Finlayson

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.

Training From Home 32

Talking about lee shores last week I was reminded of an exhibit in the Salcome Maritime museum

The old time square riggers could only just sail a little closer to the wind than a beam reach .
With few charts and only basic navigation aids they tended to sail close to the shore whenever possible .
In a storm they might discover that they were unable to weather headlands ahead or astern so became “embayed” having to tack back and forth fighting the wind and tide until overcome by exhaustion they were driven on shore!  Nasty

Sailing for fun
I looked up info on foil sailing and found a wealth of info .
Basically as water is more dense than air even a foil small  shaped like an aeroplane wing can at speed generate enough wind to lift the boat up out of the water .
Here is one of the more lighthearted versions

Take a look at this video on YouTube:

Maybe Paul or Peter could upgrade one of our Oppies over the winter!



Sailors sayings
Run a tight ship
Big Boat Stuff
Incompetent crew.
The RNLI published a list of the five most common reasons for call out which in reverse order are
Sinking -skin fittings prop shafts exhausts
Human error -navigation trio planning
Stranding or grounding -check tides and depth sounder
Equipment failure – power, halyards, shrouds, masts
Machine failure blocked impellers etc ( this happened to Rog)
RNLI safety advice
Stay safe
Eric Finlayson

2020 Laser Barometer Open Meeting

Report by John Edmondson

Windy, gusty, soggy conditions as well as a strong stream following recent and current rain greeted this year’s Barometer sailors. 

photo: Carolyne Vines

13 took to the water with Minima understandably pulling out and Lensbury abandoning passage up stream against the current after 40 minutes effort. 

The OOD revised the format to account for conditions, running two races before a short lunch to keep all as warm as possible before the third race. A sausage course set to run up past Stevens Eyot was shortened when practising Lasers demonstrated the difficulty in an up stream beat.

Marcus Chavasse, Matt Peregrine-Jones and Jon Redding set the tone for the day coming in first, second and third with Matt and Marcus swapping places several times during the first race, with Matt getting the upper hand on Jon in the second and Richard Harris coming in third.

photo: Carolyne Vines

After a short lunch a lightly depleted fleet of 10 started the third race. Jon and Matt contesting the lead with Matt ultimately coming out on top with Kaan Yargici third.

Final standings meant Matt retaining the Barometer trophy, Jon Redding coming in second and Marcus third with Kaan and Neville fourth and fifth completing the trophy round up.

photo: Carolyne Vines


Despite the conditions, sailors, helpers and spectators remained upbeat and smiling to the end. Perhaps hoping for better weather next year though.

Thanks go to OOD Tim Medcalf assisted by Valerie Hamill in the box and in the patrol boat Ken Thatcher and Andrew Horwitz.

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.

Training from Home 31


I had heard that the first scene in Shakespeare’s Tempest has an accurate description of the orders a ships captain would use trying to avoid being driven onto a lee shore in a storm so I decided to look it up.
The Only orders given are “take in the topsail” and “down with the topmost, bring her to try with the main course “ which was less than I had hoped for.
He also used the word Yare which took a bit of tracking down but means lively or swiftly.  In fact the storm was called up by Prospero’s spirit Ariel who subsequently brought the ship safely to anchor without the benefit of RYA training.
As sailors were often employed in theatres to handle the scenery pulley systems he would have had ready access to advice on dialogue.
Note it’s considered bad luck to whistle in a theatre in case it caused confusion with the bosun’s whistle.
Anyway since we can’t control the winds we need to learn how to deal with lee shores.
Subject: Watch “How to sail – Beach landing a 2 person sailboat” on YouTube
Here is how we do it in Toppers
Sailing for fun
Foil sailing looks pretty hairy , might talk more about it another time
Sailors sayings
High and Dry
Incompetent Crew
Earlier I had said that although I had known Roger for years we had never sailed together but now I think about it we had sailed a few times in the very early seventies .
On one occasion we helped a mate of his take a boat from Docklands round to the East coast .
I remember struggling through the evening rush hour traffic and really enjoying the comparative peace motoring down the river , stopping for some fish and chips and only being mildly reprimanded by the river police for not displaying navigation lights .
My chain smoking in the stern wasn’t really an adequate alternative .
The boat Trio had two berths and a centre board , I had to sleep on the floor .
I don’t remember any buoyancy aids or safety lines and the toilet was probably bucket and chuck it but there was some kind of a stove on which I cooked sausage and eggs for breakfast frying the remaining sausages  , wrapping them in toilet paper and stowing them in a locker to have for lunch en route .
Unfortunately heeling over under way must have got bilge water into the dish .
You can imagine what it looked like and why we settled for bread and jam .
Yachtmasters Quiz
Answer to last week.  1.1 At night on port if you see a steady bearing green light on the port bow you should tack away .
Question for this week  1.2 When taking a 3 point fix with a hand held compass why should you take the beam reading first .
Stay safe
Eric Finlayson

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.

Training from Home 30


The weather will probably start t o get a bit wild soon making capsize a real threat .

Early on in training we would show you a DVD of capsize recovery just to show you that it isn’t the end of the world .
There are lots of sailing videos on www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPkH81M6-NE or thru google .
Basically after a capsize you will wind up in the water between the sail and the boat 

You need to swim round the back of the boat and climb onto the ‘centreboard’

Once you get on the board, you can pull the boat upright, climb in, and sail on.

The good news is that we won’t ask you to do it until the weather is warm and we’ll practice it on shore first .

Sailors sayings
Batten down the hatches
Big boat stuff – Incompetent Crew
Once we got Lady in Blue through the lock and bedded down snugly in her mooring Roger and I had a much needed beer, making sure to offer a drop to Neptune in thanks for a safe return .
Looking back on an eventful trip what did I learn
Take a big towel
Don’t try to break in new shoes there is more walking than you think
In an unfamiliar supermarket just go up and down all of the aisles you may come across unexpected treats
To stave off seasickness stand down in the cabin with your head in the cockpit.
Eat before you’re hungry, sleep before you’re tired.
Yachtmasters quiz
Answer from last week:  If the satnav isn’t working you can fix your position by three point compass bearing, following depth contours or radar range.
New question
Sailing close hauled on Port at night you see a steady bearing green light off  the port beam.  What action do you take?
Stay safe
Eric Finlayson

Optimus Prime Wipes the Board in National 18′ Inland Champs

The ‘Inland Champs’ racing for the Eighteen Cup this year included the Adelaide Cup and Tamesis Anchor which had been postponed from the spring due to Covid 19 restrictions.

There was a lot of speculation during the week before whether it would be possible to sail in the forecast storm.  In the end it became well nigh impossible to sail in the light flukey south southwesterly and strong current caused by the landwater. Race Officer David Baker set an upstream start course well in sight of the club.  The plan was to run two races back to back before lunch, then two afterwards.

We had rain all Friday and overnight until it stopped promptly at 10am on the day.  Four eighteens crossed the line slowly in the first race.  Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines in Zephyr got the best start, tacking up the Surrey bank, but were overhauled quickly by Matt Jones and Kaan Yargici in Ultra Optimus Prime.  The other three crews battled it out, passing and then being overtaken in turn.  Unfortunately for the Zephyr crew they were left behind by Charles Fox and Robert Blakebrough in Genevieve and Chris Pollard and Caroline Stillwell in Antedote.

The second race started immediately after the finish of the first race.  Zephyr made the best start again and crawled up the Middlesex bank, the other three opting for the Surrey bank.  Unfortunately for Zephyr they didn’t go far enough above the buoy in the middle of the river.  Tempted by the wind in the middle of the river which was swiftly bringing the rest of the fleet level, they crossed but got swept back and were unable to round the starboard hand mark.  Optimus Prime was able to round.  At that point it became obvious that the others were too far back and the race was abandoned.

Lunch was taken outside as with the new norm, everyone bringing their own food and drink.  Entertainment was provided by the Juniors (see photos in separate report) who were making some headway especially when they started to paddle.

Three more races were planned after lunch to make up for the loss of the second race.  The top mark was moved downstream.

photo Marcus Chavasse

The wind had fortunately come up a bit for the third start, though still very fitful.  Zephyr timed it perfectly to cross the line on the gun and pull away.  Optimus were first round the top mark and disappeared over the horizon.  There was a lot of place changing amongst the other three.  The bottom mark had to be timed perfectly to prevent a drift downstream, and good tacking was essential along the Surrey bank, though an occasional lift up the middle of the river could leave a rival cursing as they were overtaken.  Antedote was second, Genevieve third and a frustrated Zephyr in fourth after two rounds.

(c) Jonathan Key

The last race was similar  to the third race.  Optimus this time helmed by Kaan had an even bigger lead.   Antedote ran aground near the top mark in the second round and retired, leaving Genevieve (Charles now crewed by Alden Horwitz) and Zephyr to fight for second place.  Eventually Genevieve had a 45 second lead over Zephyr at the end of the second round. The course was shortened so that Optimus was finished on the third round, just after Zephyr crossed the line on her second round.  This prompted Zephyr to retire.  Genevieve hung on and eventually finished, after an elapsed time of  95  minutes!

(c) Jonathan Key

The prizes were presented by Commodore Chris Pollard.

Many thanks go to Race Officer David Baker, assisted by Jim Green in the box and Onursal Soyer, Howard Thatcher and Marcus Chavasse in the Patrol Boat, Chris Pollard for admin of race sheets and handicaps.

Adelaide Cup (personal handicap) Tamesis Anchor (on the water)

Eighteen Cup (personal handicap)

1st:   421 Optimus Prime   Matt Jones and Kaan Yargici

2nd:  266 Genevieve   Charles Fox, Robert Blakebrough, Alden Horwitz

Cover photo Marcus Chavasse