Tamesis Club

Thursday evening GW Smith Trophy series – update 5

Here is John Adams’ latest race report:

The last July race in the GW Smith Trophy attracted a very good entry of 21 starters, with a south westerly wind which although dying a little before we started still kept us moving fast enough for many of the fleet to complete 5 laps, up from the usual 2 or 3 on a Thursday evening.

With so many boats the start was interesting with a couple of eager contestants having to go back and then fight their way through the fleet.  The race itself was tight with plenty of place changing, Andrew Harris even losing his lead for a lap before normal service was resumed and he and Matty Key crossed the line first in Point Break followed by Joe Maclaughlin crewed by Holly Revear in his newly acquired Merlin Lady Anne, with John Adams and Sophie Harrison just managing to hold off a fast charging Tim Medcalf and Flora Laidlaw in Tim’s white and wide Merlin Seveneye to take third.  On the water it was a Merlin evening with the first five boats all Merlins before Matt P-J brought his Laser home in 6th place, but ominously close to the Merlins ahead of him.

And so it proved, Matt taking the evening on handicap followed by the 5 Merlins that finished ahead of him on the water with Stewart Colley the next Laser in 7th.  It was not a good night for the N18s, with Charles Fox and Robert Blakebrough the first of them in 12th place.

With 5 races sailed Matt P-J is still in the lead with Tim Medcalf second in his Merlins and Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines 3rd in his N18 Zephyr.  However there are still 4 races to go, 4 races to count and it is mathematically possible for Matt to be caught, particularly as some of the more successful contestants are still counting a DNC.

The evening was rounded off with a tasty trail supper from a new caterer, and thanks to those that helped serve the supper and drinks from the bar.  Jim Green and Eva Heap coped admirably in the box with the large number of contestants and Ian Ramage and Chris Wade ran the patrol boat.

The current standings are:

Thursday evening GW Smith Trophy – update 4

Here is John Adams’ latest report from another busy evening of racing.

Eighteen boats took part in the 4th race of the 2021 GW Smith series raced in a light southerly wind on a balmy summer evening.

Although slightly down on the previous week’s record turnout, there were plenty of boats on the water which led to a certain amount of discussion around the buoys, particularly Lensbury.  The light wind also gave plenty of opportunities for gaining or losing places and giving proof to the saying that the race is only over when you have crossed the finishing line.

This week Andrew Harris and Matt Key in their Merlin Point Break were not going to repeat the last minute loss on the line that they experienced the previous week and stormed into a lead they never looked like losing, adding colour to the evening with a well flown spinnaker.  Behind him places changed throughout the race but Tim Medcalf and Jennifer Falconer-Hall came through to second on the water, but with Matt P-J ominously close in third in the first Laser.

Andrew and Matt’s speed on the water also gave them the race on handicap ahead of the Lasers of Matt P-J and Jon Redding, with Tim and Jennifer finishing 4th.

After four races in this series, Matt P-J is beginning to take command at the top of the tree, but with 4 races to count and still another 5 races left in the series, there is still ample opportunity for that to change.

A wonderful evening gently subsided into the nigh lit by a golden moon as we feasted on a very tasty supper provided by team Horwitz with Chloe providing the drinks and celebrating the first use of Phil’s Bar for some time.  Thanks also to David Peregrine-Jones and Fleur Moree in the box and Chris Pollard and Stephen Lucas in the patrol launch.

Here are the latest results:

Thursday evening GW Smith Trophy – update 3

Here is John Adams’ update about the GW Smith series accompanied by pictures from Jonathan Key:

The third race for the Thursday evening 2021 GW Smith trophy was blessed with a good NNE wind, apart from around the Lensbury mark, where it dropped and became very variable in direction.  This led to many place changes as competitors saw and played the shifts to round and get away fast, or didn’t and were stuck watching boats go past on both directions.

The massive entry of 24 boats, with a number of juniors and new competitors to the series, was very good to see and there were many battles throughout the fleet.

Not least of these was that between Tim Medcalf and Jennifer Falconer-Hall in their Merlin Samanda and Andrew Harris and Matt Key in their Merlin Point Break which was only decided in Tim and Jennifer’s favour in the last few minutes of the race. Third on the water was another Merlin, Avenger with Ken Duffell and Matt Valentine.

However while the Merlins had the glory on the water, it was the Lasers of Jon Redding and Matthew Peregrine-Jones that topped the handicap results with Tim and Jennifer in third.

The overall results are a little skewed as the discards have not kicked in and so benefit those that have sailed the three races in the series to date.  However the current leader is Matt PJ, appearing to be repeating his all conquering performance in the earlier Saga series.  However there is still time and races to change that.

Thanks to Rupert and the race crew for administering one of the biggest races in terms of numbers that we have had for a long time, certainly on a Thursday evening.  The balmy evening was rounded off with a very tasty curry  and pavlova provided by Nim and Helen washed down with suitable tipples served by Megan and Josefine at the bar.

The series standings are:

Thursday evening GW Smith Trophy – update 2

While many club members were away enjoying Merlin week at Salcombe, the home fleet remained strong with 19 boats taking part in the latest round of the GW Smith Trophy series.

A few new crews joined in this weekly dose of sailing fun and it was excellent to see.  Well done to Iris Crampton and her father Thomas for giving it a go and taking the opportunity to refine their starting technique.  Also to Johannes Wagner’s son Luzius aged 13 who took the helm of his father’s Merlin Rocket and brought her home to a fine (on the water) second place.

First home was the experienced pairing of Ken Duffell and Matty Valentine.  Third was our Commodore Chris Pollard in his N18 who capitalised on an absolute flier of a start (well, a pretty good attempt at a ‘flier’ considering the light winds) and left the other two N18s far behind.

Big thank yous this week to the late stand-in race management/patrol boat crew of Humphrey Dorrell and Jonathan Key.  Also to Josephine Wagner who lead the provision of a box dinner and drinks from the bar.

Courtesy of John Adams, here are the results:


Restless racing, highlights and heartbreaks, Sunday 4 July

A rather nondescript and drizzly early summer’s morning camouflaged the arrival of some good sailing conditions which saw a southerly swing sou’westerly as the day wore on.

Three compact fleets came to the line and everyone faced a range of conditions from the very light to some stronger interludes which saw the boats cresting along the river.

The OOD team of Ken Duffell and Joe Woods set a simple Canbury/Lensbury course but were careful to ensure the buoys were well located to avoid potential wind shadows.  This approach paid dividends as the racing was determined by sailing skill rather than the whirly wheel of windy (mis)fortune.

Seven Lasers set off at 10.30 with Kaan Yagici, Peter Impey and Marcus Chavasse setting the early pace.  It took five laps for Marcus to finally reach the head of the fleet and take a victory by a slim eight second margin ahead of Kaan, with Jim Hamilton coming in a more distant third.

The pair of N18s had a more clear cut outing with Charles Fox and his crew besting Mal Warner and Beatrice Russ by a distance.

The Merlin Rocket fleet was racing for the Restless Trophy which is awarded on the first weekend of Salcombe Week where a number of the fleet’s hotshots were ploughing the estuary.  Taking the opportunity to shine, it was the oldest Merlin at the club ‘Samanda’ that opened up a lead over the other four boats in the race.  However, the last leg proved to be decisive and, as in the Laser race, the long-time leader was overhauled when victory was at hand.  Congratulations to Peter and Richard Mason who retain the Restless Trophy having won by 43 seconds from your correspondent and Flora Laidlow, with Berry Ritchie and Nick James in third.

The bar welcomed the returning racers who enjoyed a couple of drinks and a light sandwich lunch.

Thanks to Ken and Joe for running the racing, Johannes Wagner and Alastair Banks for crewing the launch, and to Josephine Wagner for preparing and serving lunch.

Thursday evening GW Smith Trophy – update 1

Another large and  enthusiastic fleet took to the water at the start of the second of Tamesis Club’s regular Thursday evening summer series for the GW Smith Trophy.

A mix of boats included Fireflys, Lasers, a Laser 2000, N18s, an Albacore and a couple of Merlins.

The slightly strengthened stream caught a few boats out at the start as they found themselves pushed over the line before the gun.  Frantic manoeuvres designed to regain the correct side of the line ensued accompanied by the OOD’s commentary about who had made it, and who was still on the naughty step.


Tim Medcalf and Jennifer Falconer Hall managed to get a flier and broke free from the fleet and rounded the first mark with a comfortable lead only to misread the downwind leg and be caught by Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines in a N18, David Baker  and Ian Ramage in his Albacore, and a number of Lasers.

Some rather tense slow motion action followed as boats sought to balance the need to be mid-river for the better breeze but close to the bank to avoid the stream.

An attritional few laps saw the front three of Henry, Tim, and Matt P-J in his Laser put some distance between themselves and the rest.  This proved to be the on-the-water podium but the final result will only be clear once the handicap numbers have been crunched.

Once back on land, sailors and guests were treated to another tour de force from Team Horwitz lead by head chef Alden.  Copious servings of a rich bolognese were available and satisfied even the club’s band of ravenous ‘twosies’.  The selection of ice creams were a delightful end to the meal.

Many members lingered over a drink and chat while the sun set and evening drew in.

Thank yous to the OOD, this week Commodore Chris Pollard supported by Caroline Stilwell, for setting marks that could be navigated even in the light conditions.  Also to Geoff Malseed and Alexey Anatskiy for manning the patrol boat, and to Sophie Harrison, Andrew Horwitz, Alden Horwitz and others for providing food and drinks for hungry and thirsty racers.

Finally, thank you to Jonathan Key for the pictures that accompany this report.


Cutty Sark Bolt and Kempton Nut go the distance, Sunday 27 June

The second handicap pursuit race of the season turned out to be a cracker with a fleet of 19 boats relishing a long up/down-stream course which provided a run and a beat that were an enjoyable test in what proved to mostly be a nor’easter.

The Cutty Sark Bolt is raced, as the name suggests, for one of the original bolts that secured timber planks to the Cutty Sark’s iron frames.  It’s junior version the Kempton Nut is a competition to win one of the nuts that was replaced during the restoration of the historic steam-powered waterpump at the Kempton waterworks.

Maybe due to the orientation of the course in combination with the wind strength, or maybe just due to the skill of the sailors, the finishing positions were only determined in the final few minutes of the race.  This resulted in three classes being represented in the top five boats, without a Merlin Rocket in first place!

Congratulations to our winners:

1st Marcus Chavasse (Laser)

2nd Richard and Maddie Harris (Merlin Rocket)

3rd Matthew Valentine (Laser)

4th Matt P-J and Kaan Yagici (N18)

5th Andrew Harris and Matty Key (Merlin Rocket)

Special mention to Matthew Valentine who participated in the Cutty Sark Bolt as he was the only junior to register for the Kempton Nut, but went on to a well-deserved third place in the senior race retaining the Kempton Nut for a second year in the process.

Thanks are due to Peter Mason for enabling the club to have the unique artefact from the Cutty Sark, and to the late Peter Simpson for donating the Kempton Nut.  Entry fees from the Cutty Sark Bolt race are donated to the restoration fund and they were pleased to receive £101 (the maths of which eludes your correspondent!).

Peter and Richard Mason ran an excellently-managed race which was appreciated by all.  ‘Thank yous’ to the patrol boat crew of Geoff Bayliss and Philippe Pierrot, as well as Nicky Johnson and Sara Jamieson for preparing an excellent lunch and to Jonathan Key for providing the photos.

Next week sees a return to the regular Summer Series fleet racing with the added attraction of the Merlin Rocket race also being for the Restless Trophy.  The Restless Trophy is traditionally run for the Merlin Rocket fleet on the first weekend of Salcombe week.

A final note, the club wishes every success to the four the Merlin Rocket crews (helms are John Adams, Andy Harris, Joe Mclaughlin and Tom Low) who will be racing at Salcombe week, you can be assured that your progress will be tracked with interest back in TW11.

Thursday evening ‘Saga Trophy Series’ update 6

Here is John Adam’s last report from the Saga Trophy Series:

The Saga is over, sad that it also marks that we are already half way through the Summer Thursday evening sailing for 2021.

An excellent turnout of 20 boats assembled for the final race in this year’s Saga Trophy, with a massive entry of 12 Lasers, 4 Merlins, 3 N18s an Albacore venturing out for the first time this year and a Firefly.

The wind was light, west with a touch of north and varying from light to very light, so placing great emphasis on finding and holding on to the wind.  Andrew Harris and Matt Key sailing the Merlin Point Blank were beaten to the first mark by the fast starting John Adams and Johannes Wagner in Merlin Saltarello, but rapidly took the lead and remained there until the finish.

Behind them John Adams, Tim Medcalf and Ken Duffell swapped places until John and Johannes picked up an extra puff on the penultimate lap to finish second behind Andrew, with Tim and Jennifer Falconer-Hall third and Ken and Matt 4th in their Merlin.  Behind the Merlins the N18s took the next 3 places with Matt P-J the first Laser at 8th.

On handicap those places were retained apart from Matt P-J taking 7th from Charles Fox and Robert Blakebrough in the third N18.

As predicted last week, Matt could not be caught in the overall standings and is the winner of the 2021 Saga Trophy. Behind him Tim Medcalf and Ken Duffell in their Merlins had the same overall points but Tim took second place on count back.

The three competing N18s took the next 3 places, so providing a good mix of classes in the top end of the fleet.

Overall there were 37 different entrants in the series with 12 completing the 4 races needed to qualify for the series.  In the 8 races sailed, there were 5 different winners, Matt P-J with 2 wins in his Laser, Andrew Harris 2 wins in his Merlin, 2 wins for Henry Defries in his N18 and 1 each for Tim Medcalf and Ken Duffell so with no real dominance by any one class.

We look forward with interest to see how the G W Smith progresses over the Thursday evenings in July and August.  

Thanks to Joe Mclaughlin and his team in the box and the rescue boats and for an excellent supper and convivial drinks served and produced by the Horwitz team.

Sunday racing 20 June 2021

A river bereft of breeze, yet with a stream that had multiplied threefold in as many days, created some unprepossessing conditions for sailing.  The Tamesis Club fleets were not to be daunted however and good numbers sallied forth (in a manner of speaking) yet again.

Your correspondent spent most of his time on the water wrestling with some dinghy rigging that had seemed like a good solution on dry land, and is therefore grateful to Class Captains John Edmondson and Henry Defries for their insight into the Laser and N18 races respectively.

Nine Lasers took part and, following some close racing, Brendan Hills emerged as the winner with Chris Taggart and Matty Key as second and third respectively.

Three N18s joined the fray.  The conditions were entirely unsuitable and there was an inevitable rafting of N18s which impeded a few boats from other marks at the Lensbury mark.

In terms of the series so far, Charles Fox holds a slender lead from the Commodore Chris Pollard and Henry Defries who are level-pegging.  The fleet hasn’t has the best rub of the green in terms of weather and hopes that this will improve for the second half of the series.

The Merlin Rocket fleet of eight ground around the course with Richard Harris and Peter Mason managing to break their boats free of a tightly bunched midfield from which David Baker and Jim Green eventually emerged in third place over all.

The Lensbury mark claimed a few victims who failed to head straight for the Middlesex bank after rounding and there were some extensive changes of position on the return to the Canbury end of the track.

Well done to Richard and Emma, Peter and Richard, David and Jim for filling the podium and to all others for sticking with it.

Thanks as ever to the box team, this week Andrew and Nim Harris assisted by Tom, and to Humphrey Dorrell and Ellen Schwartz for crewing the patrol boat.  Also to Team Horwitz for laying on another mighty BBQ and running the bar – always much appreciated by returning sailors and spectators alike.  Finally, thanks to Jonathan Key who continues to provide marvelous pictures that allow sailors to reminisce about the highs and lows of the day, and also check whether the boat was as level as they thought.

Looking ahead, Sunday 27 June see the running of the annual Cutty Sark Bolt handicap pursuit race and it’s junior version the Kempton Nut.  We hope for an even better turnout than the one we saw recently for the Centenary Cup.

The Cutty Sark Bolt race is distinguished by the fact that it is a long distance race which is fitting given the Cutty Sark’s epic voyages.  There is a rumour that there may also be catering of the type that the Cutty Sark’s crew would have enjoyed (it actually looks a lot better than you would expect) so please put the race in your diaries.

The juniors will compete for the Kempton Nut and will race over a slightly shorter timeframe.

All are welcome as ever and start times will be published on the website in the News section and also on the whatsapp groups.

There is a £5 entry fee (CASH PAYMENT ONLY, please bring correct change) for the Cutty Sark Bolt as it is a race that raises money for the on-going upkeep of the ship.

Thursday evening ‘Saga Trophy Series’ update 5

Here is John Adams’ latest report:

In terms of wind for the penultimate race in the 2021 Saga series, the forecast was promising with a wind of around 9mph from the north or thereabouts, and that appeared to be the case when we arrived at the club. 14 boats braved the elements, with 6 Merlins, 5 Lasers, 2 N18s and a single Firefly, slightly down on the previous week’s 19 entrants but still a good turnout.

As it happened the wind dropped to not very much at all, and the top half of the fleet managed to drift around for 3 laps and the bottom for 2.  And it rained and we all got wet as well.

Still Andrew Harris and Matty Key showed us how it should be done by sliding gently around in his Merlin Point Break to beat the second boat to finish, the Merlin helmed by Ken Duffell and crewed by Matt Valentine, by 5 minute with another Merlin, skippered by Geoff Bayliss and crewd by his son Tom, close behind.  Ominously for those hoping to beat Matt P-J to the series win , he finished 4th in his Laser.

On handicap, Andrew’s winning margin was enough to secure the race on handicap as well, ahead of Matt P-J in the Laser and Ken and Matt 3rd.

Overall Matt P-J retains his lead and is unassailable.  However only 5 points separate the next 5 boats and with some high scores to discard, the race for the podium places is still on.

Despite the weather many stayed for a welcome drink and a tasty supper provided by the Horwitz team, including a spectacular pudding:

Thanks also to Richard Harris and his support team in the box and rescue boats.

Results to date are below: