Tamesis Club

Summer Series 5: 15th May 2022

The Summer Series is fully underway, and nothing can stop the Tammy racers now. Not even a river full of skiffs could do more than delay the fun.

With the Skiff Club event ruling out a 10:30 start, Blue Series racing was dropped for the day, and all eyes turned to the slightly delayed White Series, slightly delayed to an 11:50 start sequence.

Nine Merlin Rockets got things going in a fairly light Easterly. OOD Tim Medcalf had set a Canbury-Lensbury course with a teasing dogleg being dropped virtually onto the start line. As it turned out, all it took was the first beat up to Canbury to start to sort the fleet. Passing Cloud (Richard Harris & Emma McDonald) established a small but meaningful early lead over a tightly chasing pack.

Passing Cloud managed to keep the momentum up, coming in clear of Crescendo (Andy Harris & Matty Key) and Bambusa (Peter & Richard Mason), with the rest of the fleet finding things increasingly tough as the wind evaporated. Things got so bad that three of the Merlins couldn’t even complete the course, a rare sight.

The Laser fleet was also struggling, albeit for different reasons. The head of the seven-strong fleet was cut off when two of the pacesetters coasted past the dogleg. The opportunity was snapped up by Roz Warwick-Haller, claiming her first win of the Summer Series. Second place was Alexey Anatskiy, showing the benefits of regular racing with his ever-improving results. John Edmondson tidied up third place as the remainder of the fleet started to wonder if they were ever going to make it back to shore.

Last off, Tammy watchers had a treat: the rare sight of four National 18s out for a spin, together with a single-handed Enterprise.

Antedote (Chris Pollard & Alistair Banks) led the fleet home on the water, but when “Tamesis Yardstick” handicaps were applied, Genevieve (Charles Fox & Robert Blakeborough) nosed in front, followed by Antedote and Zephyr (Henry DeFries & Carolyne Vines).

Peter Bide managed the not inconsiderable task in the fading breeze of single-handedly bringing his Enterprise home for the points.

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.

Summer Series 3: 1st May 2022

A swirling, unpredictable wind theoretically coming from the South East presented everyone, not least the race officers, with a challenge. Thankfully, the light conditions and a carefully set course featuring a clubhouse dogleg meant that there would be no May Day Mayday required.

The Blue series races, started with four Merlin Rockets charging off at 10:30. The experienced teamwork of Richard and Peter Mason prevailed. The last mark saw drama in the fleet as Tim & Veronique Medcalf’s second place was transformed into an unusual third. Both Avenger (Joe Woods & Ken Duffell) and Seveneye (Griff & Josie Tanner) slipped past, and found themselves sharing second place after crossing the line together.

In the Laser fleet, Winter champion Matt Valentine was joined by Matty Key and Alexey Anatskiy, all hoping to build points in the absence of regulars like Jim Hamilton and Marcus Chavasse. Matty led Matt throughout, with Alexey registering a useful third place.

In the National 18s, Zephyr (Henry Defries & Carolyne Vines) narrowly outpaced Antedote (Chris Pollard & Alistair Banks) and Genevieve (Charles Fox & Robert Blakebrough) on the water, with the application of handicapping swapping second and third place.

The White Series, starting at 11:30, saw the National 18s effectively repeat their earlier result. Consistency is king among the big boats.

The Merlin fleet had doubled in size for the second race. Of particular note at the sharp end of the fleet, both Passing Cloud (Richard Harris & Emma McDonald) and Crescendo (Andy Harris & Matty Key) were out on the water for the first time in the Summer Series, and would contest a relentless and noisy battle right to the finish line.

In the end Passing Cloud prevailed over Crescendo, with the Masons’ Bambusa tidying up third place.

In the Lasers, Matt Valentine had obviously taken lessons about the shifting breeze from the earlier race, because he tucked in for a handy win over Peter Johnson and Ros Warwick-Haller.

As the Summer Series really kicks into gear, sailors should note a couple of items from the club’s revised Sailing Instructions:

First, RRS A5.3 applies, meaning that boats who make it to the starting area but who do not complete the race will receive a score of the number of boats out plus one (instead of the DNC score of the number of boats in the series plus one).

Second, the number of races to count in a series is half of the number of races, rounded up.

Easter Egg Pursuit: 17th April 2022

A Firefly sailing

Easter Sunday saw a chocolate box selection of boats out at Tamesis for the Easter Egg handicap pursuit. Alongside 7 Lasers and 8 Merlin Rockets, a National 18, an Enterprise and a Firefly all fancied their chances in the free-for-all of a pursuit race.

The Firefly, sailed by Henry and Ed Medcalf, was first out of the gate, heading upstream past Steven’s Eyot on a long Canbury-Lensbury lap. Three minutes later, Peter Bide in the Enterprise Ariel set off in pursuit.

Lasers sailing back towards Tamesis Club

The following pack of Lasers had other ideas, quickly running down the early starters and establishing a dominance by the end of the first lap. The Laser-powered one-two-three at the halfway stage was Marcus Chavasse, Matt Valentine and Richard Harris.

Merlin Rocket “Chimp”

As so often at Tamesis, the Merlins were not to be denied their say. By the end of their first lap the likes of Chimp, Masquerade and Avenger were in amongst the Lasers. Leading the push was Andy Harris, crewed by Tom, swapping the familiar Point Break for the storied Crescendo. As the Harrises headed back upstream past the Smithy, only the Medcalf Firefly stood between them and the lead Lasers.

Merlin Rocket “Salterello”
National 18 “Zephyr”

The 12:30 finish was long enough for the lead to change hands decisively, with Crescendo prevailing over Marcus Chavasse in the first Laser, followed by the Merlins Sublime (Joe McLaughlin & Sean Roberts) and Chimp (David Baker & Jim Green), with Richard Harris’ Laser holding off another Merlin, Avenger (Ken Duffell & Joe Woods) to round out the top half dozen.

The winners of the Tamesis Easter Egg Pursuit

The sight of a Firefly out on the water was a good reminder to all that next Sunday brings another break to the Summer Series with the Firefly Open at Tamesis.

OOD: Rob Hatley

Photos by Alastair Banks & Chris Wade

Summer Series racing warms up: 10th April 2022

Swans courting

Everything was warming up at Tamesis on Sunday. The air. The river (a bit). Things were even heating up for the Tamesis swans, who treated the gathering sailors to a display of waterborne affection before the Blue series racing began.

The wind wasn’t offering too much for the early starters, looking southerly but tending to fill in from the west if it did happen. Uncertain exactly which way it would go, OOD Brendan Hills laid marks for a dogleg course, but, after sticking a wet finger in the air, went with a fairly tight up-and-down Canbury-Lensbury course.

Six Merlins set things off, with War Horse enjoying a flyer to the first mark. White Saucerer (Rob and Lucy Hatley) soon eased past and into the lead, making the most of what the wind offered. But all the while Tim Medcalf and Jennifer Falconer-Hall (Crossbow) were picking their way up the fleet. Three laps was just about the perfect length of race, certainly for Crossbow, which slipped into the lead halfway round the final lap and ran out comfortable winner.

In the meantime four Lasers had set off. Second and third place racers from the Winter Series (Matt Valentine and Jim Hamilton) were present and correct, but Winter Series champion Henry Medcalf was absent, busy with studies. Who would take advantage?

In the event Marcus Chavasse led the way from the start, pulling Valentine, Hamilton and Brian Corking round the course, and rarely looking in any trouble.

Things were looking pretty tight for the National 18s, with Antedote (Pollard/Banks), Zephyr (DeFries/Vines) and Genevieve (Fox/Warwick-Haller) inseperable in the early stages. Eventually it was left to Antedote to nose just in front of Zephyr for the win.

The first hints of a more solid wind weren’t enough to change the course for the White series races, so it was a quick turnaround for all. The Merlin fleet was up to eight, enough to mean some proper jockeying for position at the start. The beneficiary was Avenger (Ken Duffell & Joe Woods), which flew around the course, looking uncatchable in the early laps. Although White Saucerer and Crossbow were unable to repeat the form of the first race, the boats of David Baker & Jim Green and of Griff & Josie Tanner were gradually applying pressure.

Matters came to a head at the Lensbury mark on the fourth lap. Avenger’s spinnaker run temporarily ended up with the pole floating off downstream. As it was retrieved, Chimp and the Tanners were in close enough attendance to slide past, the top three finishing in that order.

Unusually, the White series racing for Lasers and National 18s virtually replicated the first race. For the Lasers, Marcus Chavasse enjoyed clear water from lap one to lap five, with Matt Valentine recording his second second of the day. The only change was the arrival of Stewart Colley, who opened his season with a third place. And once a complex multi-fleet finish had been unpicked, it turned out that the National 18s had repeated their Blue series order.

Summer series racing takes a break for a couple of weeks, with the Easter Egg Handicap Pursuit on Easter Sunday, and the Firefly Open the Sunday after.

Summer Series racing begins: 3rd April 2022

Words by Chris Pollard, photography by Chris Wade

This Sunday’s races were contested in a better than forecast north-north-easterly wind which occasionally backed to north-westerly.  OOD John Adams set a straight up-and-down course (K) for all races.

Seven Merlins started their first (Blue) race which was won by Peter Mason, crewed by Richard Mason, with Matt P-J, crewed by Lyra Wade, second and Rob Hatley, crewed by Lucy Hatley, third.

Seven Lasers started their first race which was won by Marcus Chavasse, with Henry Medcalf second and Mattie Valentine third.

Three N18s started the N18/Handicap race.  Henry Defries, crewed by Carolyne Vines, was first with Charles Fox, crewed by Robert Blakebrough, second and Chris Pollard, crewed by Alistair Banks, third.

Seven Merlins entered the second (White) race which was won by Joe McLaughlin, crewed by Sean Roberts, with Peter Mason, crewed by Richard Mason, second and Matt P-J, crewed by Lyra Wade, third.

Seven Lasers started the second race which was won by Marcus Chavasse, with Chris Taggart second and Henry Medcalf, third.

The N18 race was won by Henry Defries, crewed by Carolyne Vines, with Chris Pollard, crewed by Alistair Banks, second and Charles Fox, crewed by Robert Blakebrough, third.

thanks to John Adams as OOD, assisted by Zoe Adams in the Box.  Thank you also to Ian Ramage and Stephen Lucas for manning the Patrol Boat.

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.