Tamesis 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.

Laser Barometer Open 2021 – ‘Matts-imum’ fun!

Online entries had been ticking along and it was excellent to see 16 helms arrive to rig their boats on Sunday morning.  While one or two of the big beasts were missing, there was still a high quality look to the start sheet which included past winners, the Class Captain, Merlin Rocket ace pilot Richard Harris, and a contingent of the club’s Young Guns in the form of Matty Key, Matthew Valentine and Henry Medcalf.

The race management team spent some while watching the developing weather, consulted the Laser Barometer itself for guidance, and examined the spacial weather forecasting fir cones that are hidden under the deck in the Smithy.  All indications were that it would be hard to predict the weather for the day and so that old favourite of a Canbury-Lensbury dogleg course was set to try and make the most of a fitful WSW wind.

The 11am start was a tight one with the box team needing to use the finely calibrated sighting wire screwed to the window frame to confirm that indeed everyone had got away cleanly.  It didn’t take long for ‘The Wind Whisperer’ Jon Redding to extract himself from the bunch and start to pull away in a seemingly effortless manner.

However, Matt P-J, the current holder of the Barometer, wasn’t going to let Jon have it all his own way and clawed back distance, dueled for a couple of laps, then drew ahead and held on for the win.

After an hour of racing, the leading two boats had established quite a lead but the rest of the fleet was having a whole series of ding-dong battles which were allowed to be played out before the boats returned to the shore, their helms in need of a quick lunch.

Uncharacteristically, Richard Harris was in need of a set of dry clothes having been spilled from his boat while pulling a Hollywood manoeuvre for the spectators in the grandstand by the clubhouse.

By the 13.30 start of race two, the wind was still capricious in its nature and had strengthened considerably – those who had nonchalantly left their boats fully rigged on the bank while they munched a sandwich came back to find the rigs bucking and tossing, straining to get back in the action.

Once on their way again, there was a familiar pattern to the racing as Jon Redding drew ahead and looked to be carving out an impregnable lead.  Matt P-J was not to be denied however, and again reeled in the speedy Redding and took the bullet.  There were battles aplenty further down the fleet with the Juniors surprising their elders, and our two visitors from Lensbury duking it out in their sequentially numbered craft (a fact that kept the box team on their toes!).

The NOR was clear, three races, all to count; go hard or go home.  As the wind built further, with some angry gangs of gusts chasing each other across the water and then beating up the bushes on the opposite bank, it was ‘put up or shut up’ time.  A number of helms decided that discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew from the fray.  Not so the Young Guns ‘Three Amigos’ who saddled up once more and kicked their whinnying steeds in to action.

Race three was one for the spectators as the fleet contended with a gusty ‘tour de farce’ from the Tamesis wind gods.  A number of helms rested the end of their masts on the water but most were able to bounce back upright again without issue.

To put the icing on the cake, the fleet was subjected to a lashing rainstorm of biblical proportions which passed over the club casting a pall of ominous dark on proceedings.

Matt (P-J) put the gloss on his day by taking a third bullet and thereby retaining the Laser Barometer for another year – we believe that is an impressive three in a row.

Behind him came another Matt Jones, this time from Lensbury.  With third place being taken by Matt(y) Key in an immaculate, boat that was generously supplied by club member Neville Upton.  A little further down the list came Matt(hew) Valentine and Henry ‘not Matt’ Medcalf who brought up the rear of the qualifying boats in eighth place.

The Commodore Chris Pollard presented the prizes in the bright sunshine that followed the storm.  Well done to all the prize winners, and to the Juniors for showing grit and determination during a difficult day of river sailing.

The club historian has been asked to check whether there has been another case of 50% of a result sheet from an Open having helms with essentially the same first name.  Watch this space regularly for the answer, I’ll add it here when we have the official word.

Your correspondent was OOD for the day and I would like to thank Anne Bayne for her good-humoured support in the box, Ed Medcalf for doing fetching and carrying, late stand-in Clive Mence for running the patrol boat and Steve Lucas for helping Clive (and taking a thorough soaking from the rain in his stride).  Also to Josephine in the bar and Team Warwick-Haller for preparing the lunchtime sandwiches that fueled many racers’ afternoons.  Thank you yo Jonathan Key and Carolyne Vines for the pictures.

It’s back to regular club racing on Sunday when we open the freshly minted box of fun times that is the Winter Series.  Among other highlights, Junior sailing should run to the end of the month, The Topper Open is on 23 October, the Trafalgar Trophy Pursuit on 24 October, and the Trowlock Trophy Pursuit on 7 November.

 

 

 

 

Junior Sailing in a Thames A Rater style

Despite many being more than 120 years old, time has not diminished the Thames A Rater’s ability to cause a stir and instantly be centre of attention on the river.  They were designed when raw racing speed was delivered with grace and style and they look fast even standing still.

This last factoid was important today as, due to a chronic lack of wind, the A Raters were struggling to make consistent forward progress.  However, their imposing presence quickened the pulses of 10 of the club’s Junior sailors who climbed aboard to find out what the A Raters are all about.

 

Thanks to the generosity of the A Rater owners, many of our Juniors not only had the chance to take a ride, but also to helm, in some cases coaxing their historic steeds to achieve speeds that would have been welcomed by the teams racing earlier in the afternoon.  One shoreside Merlin sailing wag wondered whether an A Raters rig might be legal for their boat given its excellent light wind performance.

Yes, it might have been a bit of a drift but there were tales a-plenty when the Juniors came back on shore, accompanied by big smiles and some enquiries about the possibility of an A Rater to be added to our collection of club boats.

The A Rater fleet has instantly created a whole new fan-base and we look forward to welcoming them back in 2022 when we hope to have the opportunity to come out for another sail on these majestic beasts.

Tamesis Club would like to thank the A Rater syndicates for allowing our Juniors to experience this truly unique sailing experience, it is much appreciated by Juniors and parents alike.

Finally, thank you also to Chris Wade and Jonathan Key for taking the excellent photos that accompany this article.

Seveneye wins Minima YC Long Distance Race

Taking advantage of the rare opportunity to race twice in one day, Tim Medcalf and Matty Key entered MR3520 Seveneye in the annual Minima YC Long Distance Race on Sunday afternoon.

The course is a simple one running from Kingston Bridge to Hampton Court, and back, with a target race duration of 90 minutes for the first boat home.

The forecast promised a breeze that would build compared to what had been experienced in the morning and would offer a long spinnaker run on the return leg.

After a tidy start, Team Seveneye picked their way clear of the competition and had the choice of which side to negotiate Ravens Ait.  Opting for the starboard flank, there was a minor hiccup as the channel became very crowded with half a dozen learner sailors in Picos, their support boat, and three motorboats including a ferry all trying to fit through the slot.

Once free from the bottleneck, Tim and Matty could start to put the hammer down in an improving breeze, steadily beating towards Hampton Court taking best of advantage of the many lifts along the bank.

Bearing round the corner approaching Thames Ditton it became apparent that, against forecast, spinnaker flying would be possible, Matty doing so with some style.

The wind spiraled and eddied 100 metres before the turn so it was kite down and Seveneye picked her way to the objective, rounding well clear of the pursuing fleet.

The return was a mirror image of the outward leg with a very enjoyable two kilometre three sail reach/run back to the finish in the late summer sunshine and a willing breeze.

Having pulled out a 21 minute advantage over the second boat home, there was some confidence that Seveneye would find favour with the handicap calculator and so it proved with The Kingston Trophy being brought back to Tamesis Club.

Like the Minima YC May Merrie Cup which follows the same course, this event was a lot of fun and a great way to see a different part of the river.  The organising team and members at Minima were their usual very welcoming selves, and there was the opportunity to sink a welcome cold beer (or two) on the club’s balcony while watching the sun go down.  A fish and chip supper in the clubhouse rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable outing that was a fitting end to the summer season.

 

Merlin Rocket Open, DeMay and Thames series 2021

The wind gods pulled through and there was enough for four races to be run across the day.  The course was a simple Canbury-Lensbury but the wind direction gave a good upwind/downwind set of challenges with plenty of spinnakers flying and tacks on shifts.

Richard Harris and Sara Warren took the majority of the silverware in the form of the Sondown Cup, the Elizabeth Bowl and the Porteous Cup.  Andy Harris and Matty Key won the Southcott Trophy.

The combined Mclaughlin and Roberts clans, supported by Meghan in the bar did outstanding work keeping the competitors fed and watered with an outstanding BBQ lunch and afternoon tea.

Thank you to Peter and Pauline Fryer for making the races run so crisply, Kaan, Steve and Philippe for running the boat, Chris Simon for adjudicating the rules, The Commodore for awarding the prizes, and Carolyne Vines for taking the photos.

 

 

 

Tamesis Club Autumn Regatta 2021

The forecast looked ominously lacking in that vital ingredient for sailing – wind.  So much so, that the late addition of a SUP race (see separate report) to the regatta schedule could have been the only on-water activity for the day.

Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained so OOD Matt P-J assisted by Garrie Mallen set a simple sausage course in front of the club and got the Merlin Rocket fleet away on time at 11, followed by fleets of Lasers, N18s and handicap which comprised our very welcome visitors from Minima Yacht Club as well as David Baker and Jim Green in their Albacore.

A series of three races were held across the day and the commentary on each would be the same – there wasn’t much wind but if you looked in the right places, and accepted the need to be constantly ‘changing gear’ there was enough to get round.  But only very slowly.

All fleets occasionally experienced the effect that any material gust of wind could render with placings changing quickly and anyone who was stuck in neutral being left behind.  A puff could also cause some comedicaly low speed bumping and barging at the marks which could have race-ending consequences if penalty turns were required.

It is a reflection of how trying the day was that the bar did a brisk trade in calming consolation drinks and a few racers were overheard saying that they’d prefer to be back playing golf as it is a less frustrating sport.

In the end, enough sailing was done for Matt to be able to determine a finishing order in each fleet with prizes being presented by Vice Commodore Peter Johnson.

Peter Johnson won the Laser fleet, with Brendan Hills in second, and Laser Class Captain John Edmondson in third.

The N18 fleet was won by Charles Fox crewed by Roy Williamson.

The handicap fleet was won the Enterprise of Ed Mayley and James Budden, with the Enterprise of Robin Broomfield and Paul Bloomfield in second.

Finally, the Merlin Rocket fleet was won by Joe McLaughlin and Sean Roberts in ‘Lady Anne’, followed by Andy Harris and Matty Key in second, and Tim Medcalf and Flora Laidlow in third.

Thank yous are due to our visitors from Minima YC; to Matt P-J, Garrie Mallen, Geoff Malseed and Charles Tugendhat for running the racing and the patrol boats; to Henry Defries for wrangling the trophies and glassware; and to Nicky Johnson and David Wagner for managing the bar.  Finally, thank you to Jonathan Key and Carolyne Vines for the photos.

 

 

SUPer SUP race at Tamesis Club Autumn Regatta 2021!

Having fun on the river comes in many forms and Tamesis Club (note, it is not Tamesis Sailing Club) is keen for its members to find that fun whether it comes from doing a range of watersports or simply sitting on the veranda enjoying a glass of something chilled, watching the world go by.

The organisers of this year’s Autumn Regatta wanted to recognise the growing size and importance of our enthusiastic Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) community.  What better way than to stage our inaugural club SUP race!

Welcomed by SUP Class Captain Leah Fraser, a fantastic turnout of 18 SUP racers, comprising both club members and visitors, signed on and then enjoyed a short workshop on the lawn about how to make a SUP go quickly.

To the water next and the competitors lined up across the river opposite the jetties for the start.  When the fleet was more or less level, the hooter went and the river was churned by a dozen and a half paddlers frantically accelerating their boards off the line.

The course took the group up and around the far end of Stevens Ait, down to the Lensbury buoy and then across the start/finish line.

It’s fair to say that Tamesis Club members love a good race in whatever form it is to be found and the shoreside spectators, once adjusted to the idea of enjoying some non-sail-based racing, got in to the spirit with plenty of clapping and cheering.  #SUPport.

The fleet soon disappeared ‘between the islands’ preparing to make the turn to port and head back down the bank towards the Lensbury mark.  There was a palpable frisson of anticipation along the bank to see who would be in the lead.

First to emerge was intrepid young Oskar Yargici coxing his father Kaan to maintain a steady and powerful pull on the paddle.  This duo was setting a relentless pace and achieving majestic progress.

Behind them came a group of adult male competitors who were making propulsion look somewhat less intuitive but were enjoying a hard fought, brawn-based paddle battle, whisking the river to a foam as they went.

Next to hove in to view was the elegant Suzette Edmondson whose experience showed as she gapped the pursuing ladies and sallied forth to administer a ‘chicking’ to any man who was starting to flag in front of her.

Then came a flurry of paddlers of all ages, shapes, and abilities.  The crowd was loving it and encouraging their favourites.

So to the finish where competitors, in varying states of exhaustion, were able to finally down tools and relax while encouraging the later arrivals across the line.

Once back on the lawn, there was a prize giving for the winners in a range of categories.

Kaan won first male (although strictly speaking Oskar was just slightly ahead of him all the way round).

Suzette Dela Vega-Edmondson won the female category.

Matty Key was first U18, Leela Siebert-Patel first U16.

First paddler with a pet on board was Laura Torok with her dog Reggie Hewes AKA ‘Puppy Paddler’.

Two further special awards were made.  One to Maria Edmondson for being the youngest competitor who paddled their own board (sorry Oskar) and the second to Eva Romanet-Campana who took the ‘Never Give In, Never Surrender’ award while gamely bringing up the rear on her first ever SUP outing.

Congratulations to all the trophy winners.

It is a well-worn cliche to say that ‘sport was the winner’ but in this case it is appropriate as Tamesis Club saw evidence of a vibrant new source of sporting enthusiasm within its midst.  The club would like to thank Leah Fraser for her support of the event, to the powerboat crew who followed the fleet while being careful not to create a wake that could upset the racers, and of course to the competitors themselves for making it a thoroughly enjoyable event.  Fun all round.

A more formalised plan for SUP activity is being put together for 2022.  Leah will continue to be available for SUP coaching of course and we hope to run a set of regular fixtures across the Spring, Summer, and early Autumn.

It didn’t take long for the post-race banter to turn to board and paddle upgrades (is there an ideal ‘river spec’ board, does Winder Boats make SUPs, how important is weight, how regularly should a board/paddle be replaced, is carbon fibre a permitted material, what kit won the nationals, etc), so it seems like the competitive juices are already flowing!

Finally, thank you to Ian Ramage and Jonathan Key for the photos used in this report.