Tamesis Club

Another chilly one – Sunday racing 5 December

A damp, wintry nip in the morning air, accompanied by the sight of the trees having abandoned most of their leaves, confirms that the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is at an end, and that the time for sailing fortitude has arrived.

So, not one for the fair weather softies perhaps but the club’s hardy hardcore relished the joys of another impatient (mostly) northerly.

OOD Chris Balmbro, assisted by son William, and Tim Ginn set a relatively deep Lensbury windward mark which stretched the racecourse while keeping all of the competitors in view.  The downwind ride back to the club was interspersed by some lively puffs which caught the unwary.

It was a third week in a row for the Lasers to battle around course K (port) and they were challenged by a meaningful breeze which oscillated enough to make the downwind twitchy.  Kaan Yargici prevailed with Jim Hamilton in second (despite taking a refreshing dip from the high board mid-race), and Class Captain John Edmondson coming in third.

A rare sight on a day with a breeze, Charles Fox and Robert Blakeborough snapped up the points in the N18 fleet by opting for an extremely reefed storm rig and soloing their way to victory.

In the Merlin fleet, a triumvirate of boats sought ultimate triumph and broke free from the fleet at an early stage.  The Harris boys jostled for the lead with Andy overcoming Richard as the race reached its closing phase.  Close behind the front running pair, Joe and Sean sailed with style (see the clip in the Facebook section lower down the website) but lacked speed at the critical points maintain a challenge for the front.  Matt P-J and Leela Siebert-Patel were pipped for fourth by Ken Duffell and Joe Woods in the repaired and less leaky ‘Avenger’.  John Adams and Ros Warwick-Haller generously allowed Tim Medcalf to practise the skills gained on the recent patrol boat induction course and were safely returned, refreshed by the coolth of the river, to terra firma.

A mention in dispatches to Jim Green who, fresh from a tune up, was seen making a welcome return to Chimp’s engine room.

Thanks to Chris, William and Tim for running the (warm, insulated) box, Tim Medcalf and Flora Laidlow for running the (windswept, freezing cold) patrol boat, the Jack, Yann, Josefine, Alaphia for running the (very welcome) bar and serving up a fine lunch, and Jonathan Key and Carolyne Vines for providing the (excellent, as always) pictures.

Alaphia who provided us with a superb curry lunch.  More to come on 19th December

It’s Christmas Pudding races next week along with a free drink from the bar courtesy of the Commodore; both good reasons for all members to come to the club!

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.







Racing on Sunday 11th July

Competitors were greeted by a flukey Southerly on Sunday, the course set in front of the club, the upper mark just below the Island and the lower mark just in sight.  There were plenty of holes in the wind, leading boats suddenly passed by those they thought they had left far behind.

Thanks to Jonathan Key for the photos.







Start times for the Cutty Sark Bolt and Kempton Nut on Sunday 27 June

The annual Cutty Sark Bolt and Kempton Nut long distance handicap pursuit races will be taking place on Sunday 27 June.  The Kempton Nut is a race specifically for our Junior sailors and we hope to see another good turn out from this enthusiastic group.  A meal will be available after the racing with a traditional chicken and leek pie and dessert for £10, with a junior option of sausages and vegetables followed by dessert for £6.  The bar will be open.

The Cutty Sark Bolt is a race staged on behalf of the Cutty Sark with all funds from the £5 entry fee being transferred to the charity.  Please don’t forget to bring your entry fee in cash.

The prize is for possibly the only remaining bolt that was removed from the Cutty Sark when it was restored – the rest were apparently melted down – so quite a trophy.

There is no fee for the Kempton Nut competition which has as its prize a particularly impressive nut that was part of the historic steam water pump at Kempton waterworks and was donated by a member who was an engineer involved with the restoration.

Finally, administering the start of a handicap pursuit and then recording the results can be an onerous task for even the most experienced team in the box.

If you are competing, please remember to bring a watch with which you can time your start (set it from the clock being used by the box team); there will not be any preparatory signals so you will need to have a good idea of when your fleet is due to start.

When the finishing signal is given, please remember to hold you position relative to other boats while the final standings are recorded.

Cutty Sark Bolt (senior race)

Kempton Nut times (junior race)

Centenary Cup 2021, a summer stunner!

After some organisational back and forth in the week prior, the Centenary Cup was run on Sunday afternoon with an excellently-sized fleet racing in glorious conditions.

The sign-on sheets register 26 entrants with a good mix of classes for this handicap pursuit event.

The club was particularly pleased to see seven of our Juniors giving racing a try and a sincere ‘well done’ is extended to Alex Hoo, Tom Harris, Leela and Arun Siebert-Patel, Edward Medcalf, William Balmbro, and Sara Krueger for giving it a go.

The box team of Colin and Margaret Stokes, supported by Jim Green, had ample opportunity to sound the hooter and gradually got the fleets under way.  Slowest boats depart first and a confident start is required to calm the nerves and stave off that daunting feeling of being pursued by faster craft.


The format can also lead to sailors who may not normally compete directly together coming into close quarters manoeuvring on the same part of the racetrack.  This resulted in some salty words of encouragement being exchanged on the water which appeared to be resolved later over a pint on the lawn.

Keeping a track on the finishing positions is never easy but the scoring team were confident that they had ‘counted them out, and counted them back in again’.

So to the prize-giving, where the Commodore awarded first place in the Senior Centenary Cup to Peter and Richard Mason in their Merlin Rocket 847 Bambusa.

In an unaccustomed second place came Andy Harris and Matty Key, followed by Berry Ritchie and debutante crew Nicola Siebert-Patel in third.

A clean sweep for the Merlin Rocket fleet in conditions that probably favoured the class.

The Junior Centenary Cup was won by Tom Harris, with Arun Siebert-Patel in second and Alexander Hoo in third, all racing Toppers.  Judging by the extensive plunging from the jetty into the river by a large group of Juniors, it had been a tiring and hot afternoon!

Congratulations to the race winners and to all who took part.

Thanks also to the all-important volunteers.  Colin and Margaret Stokes in the box with Jim Green, Florian Krueger and Onursal Soyer in the first patrol boat, and Charlie Morgan and Byron Hoo in the second.

Competitors were at least equally grateful to the apres-race team of Andrew and Deb Horwitz who served up much-needed cooling drinks that fuelled some convivial socialising on the lawns.

The handicap pursuit format obviously proved popular and there is an opportunity to reprise the experience on 27 June when the club will be running its annual Cutty Sark Bolt (Seniors) and Kempton Bolt (Juniors), long distance handicap pursuit event.  Always a cracking event with an interesting history so make a note in your diary!

Sunday racing with added special sauce 23 May

The forecast didn’t disappoint in that it was disappointing for anyone hoping to race in conditions that looked vaguely like the start of summer.  The wind pivoting between southwest and south resulted in a course that was set to take the fleet on a foray ‘above the island’ to have a look at Canbury Gardens.

Six Lasers were given a schooling by the ‘master’ Jon Redding who came home a clear winner seemingly entirely untroubled by the conditions.  Behind him there were varying degrees of challenge.  Congratulations to Bendan Hills for getting round in his new boat and showing signs of being a contender in the fleet, also to Alexey Anatskiy for having the resilience to make it to the finish.

The Merlin Fleet was slightly depleted but eight plucky crews braced themselves for the voyage upstream, and back down again, three times.  After some early close running with Joe Mclaughlin and Sean Roberts, Andy Harris and Matty Key proved to be the class of the field and were the clear winners by a very comfortable margin.  David Baker and Jim Green were in next followed at a distance by the survivors of an intriguing mid/rear-field battle which saw places swapped with regularity, every boat having its moment in the sunny (rainy/windy) uplands of success matched by a sharp dose of river racing reality.  Special mention to Peter Impey, crewed by late stand-in the ever-enthusiastic Sophie Harrison, who featured in the mix early on and persevered to finish – surely more to come here?

While some sailors felt that they had had to laugh in the face of some extreme conditions on the water, they were as nothing compared to the extreme BBQing challenges that the redoubtable Team Horwitz endured to produce their high quality gourmet burgers.  These tasty treats were welcomed by all who bought one and it is hoped that they will make a return, accompanied by lashings of sunshine, in the near future.

Along with Team Horwitz, the club would also like to thank the Commodore, Peter Bide, Garrie Mallen, and Florian Kreuger for running the patrol boats, Beatrice Russ for keeping the race box ticking along with German efficiency, and Nicky Johnson and team for bringing beverages to the masses despite the rain and wind coming through the doors!

The latest forecast for Thursday evening and next weekend suggests a band of more clement weather is on the way and we look forward to seeing some good fleets on those days and, maybe just maybe, the start of a beautiful summer!

Below is a selection of shots from the racing, thank you to Jonathan Key.



Training from Home 41

Lockdown Christmas

It’s hard to know what’s best to do about Christmas but here is one safe option
“ I had everything from a miniature Christmas tree to tinsel and plastic farm animals and a tiny lantern .
But the best thing was a conference call fo all my friends , it was an odd feeling to have people drop in and out and it was only after twenty minutes that I discovered Mum and Dad had been there the whole time .
I heated Gran’s Christmas Pudding then sprinkled the tiny bottle of rum onto it .
Although I could not have been physically much further away from them I felt very close to everyone that day .
A real Christmas “
That wasn’t a Covid positive student stuck in her Halls of Residence but actually Ellen McArthur on the Vendee Globe
Here is how Tammy usually do it
A less pleasant option ( which includes being “ embayed” is here 
Short version of Christmas at sea
Shared via the Google app
Lobscouse and spotted dog
O’Brian describes various Christmas dinners with Aubrey and Maturin . Menus usually include Sucking Pig, Roast Pork Christmas Pudding and mince pies
with real mince meat !
Christmas Quiz

If you get bored watching repeats on TV try this quiz.

The answers should be in the handbook somewhere.


The three sides of a sail are 

A    luff leach and cringle 

B    head tack and clew 

C    luff foot and leach

D    leach roach and clew 

The mast is held in place by 

A     halliards and stays 

B     shrouds and forestay

C     pintle and gudgeon

D     shackles and hounds 

3     The luff of the sail is the side 

A     at the front

B     at the back 

C     at the top

D     at the bottom

The sails are raised and lowered by 

A     shrouds 

B     sheets 

C     haliards 

D     stays 

The difference between a centre board and a daggerboard is 

A   there is no difference 

B    centre board controls drift daggerboard controls lean

C    daggerboard pivots centre board slides up and down

D    daggerboard slides up and down centreboard pivots 

The knot that is tied at the end of a sheet is  

A   bowline 

B   sheetbend 

C   reef knot 

D   figure of eight.

I’d like to send special thanks to all the students instructors and others who helped in the past and look forward to better days next year



Incompetent crew
I absolutely hated sailing round Leuwarden with its innumerable locks and bridges but it’s actually a great place with lots of restaurants museums and places of interest .
I also found a mural of HM Queen (who is allegedly delaying recording her Christmas speech to see how Covid/Brexit is going ! )
We’ll come back to the trip next year but in the meantime
merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Stay safe
Eric Finlayson

Saturday 19th September – Merlin Sondown Cup

Report by Sean Roberts – co Class Captain

Jonathan Key

Saturday 19th September was a busy day for the Merlin fleet with the Sondown Cup, Southcott Cup, Elizabeth Bowl and Porteous Cup up for grabs. The fleet was keen to return to racing after such a disrupted summer and we were at capacity with twenty boats, with representatives from Hampton, St Edmundsbury, Upper Thames, and Medley. The home team also put in a strong showing with ten boats.  Fortunately the weather was kind and it was a beautiful late summer day, giving consistent sunshine and a not so consistent, but always sufficient, breeze.

(c) Jonathan Key

Launching into an onshore breeze kept the fleet on its toes and social distancing meant that all of the river access was in use.  With two races in the morning, a break for lunch, and then two in the afternoon the fleet were kept busy with a windward, leeward course which took them off Trowlock Island and up to Kingston bridge. With twenty boats the start line was action packed and the windward mark was certainly busy with the fleet spreading out during each race.

(c) Jonathan Key 07949 053695

John and Livvie Bell in Grand Teton took line honours in the first race, with Stuart Jenkins and Nicola Scaddan finishing thirty seconds behind in Flinkydink. Sadly a parting shroud put Stuart and Nicola out of the racing for the rest of the day. A sudden gust in the second race presented more challenges for the fleet, with two capsizes and more near misses. Line honours went to Andrew Harris and Matty Key in Crescendo, with John and Livvie Bell in Grand Teton second and Richard Harris and Ian Ramage third.

(c) Jonathan Key 07949 053695
(c) Jonathan Key 07949 053695


With the “rule of six” in force picnics on the lawn were the order of the day and the fleet were back on the water for the third and fourth races at 2pm. The breeze was a little more settled in the afternoon but the racing was no less intense. John and Livvie Bell in Grand Teton took line honours, with Andrew Harris and Matty Key in Crescendo and David Baker and Jim Green in Chimp coming in second and third. This set the stage for a thrilling final race in which Andrew and Matty needed to come in first to clinch the Sondown cup, which is awarded to the overall winner.

(c) Jonathan Key 07949 053695

A tight race saw Ollie Houseman and Matty Valentine take an early lead but this was eroded mid race when a following breeze condensed the top of the fleet.  A nail biting finish followed with Andrew and Matty in Crescendo edging ahead of John and Livvie in Grand Teton as the line approached. John and Livvie fought back, catching a favourable gust at the critical moment that put them just ahead.  With the shore team running to the line to catch a close finish Andrew Harris and Matty Key caught the puff moments later and accelerated, but John and Livvie crossed the line two seconds before, clinching the race and the Sondown cup. An exciting finish to a fantastic day of racing! Special thanks to Peter and Pauline Fryer for running the race box, to Chris Simon for acting as our on the water judge and to the whole Tammy team for an enjoyable day of racing.

Finish of the last race – 1st and 2nd right down to the wire! photo Carolyne Vines.


John and Livvie Bell displaying their tropies. Photo Carolyne Vines

It was a beautiful day for taking pictures and we’ve included some of our favourite images, with more here: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPJwZd7_tmqwzYheApj6rMlEROwOnOLOQqRj-7RXw3r3XNV1tbFnawYV70x7stJrg. (Link can only be opened if you have a gmail account. Sorry) Album images courtesy of Carolyne Vines.


Racing with extra special sauce – Sunday 13 September

In a particularly welcome new development, racers were greeted on Sunday morning by the alluring smells of bacon cooking on the club’s new BBQ.  It even appeared irresistible to the passing RNLI crew whose masks could not entirely block out the tempting aromas.

While the bacon butties and coffee hit the spot pre-race, Team Horwitz surpassed themselves by serving up a lunch of gourmet burgers.  While it might seem unusual to start a race report with a culinary update, this new initiative was a triumph and members are encouraged to look out for new of the next time when the BBQ will make an appearance.  Many thanks to the Horwitz family for delivering this new initiative so successfully.

Turning to sailing matters, OOD John Adams set a cunning dogleg course for competitors to negotiate with the Lensbury buoy in a tricky patch and a tight turn close to the bank at Club which brought the boats close to the socially-distanced spectators.

The Handicap Fleet saw a David and Goliath situation as Ed Medcalf in an Optimist took on three N18s.

Unfortunately for Ed, it was a day when size mattered and the race was won on handicap by Charles Fox and Robert Blakeborough, from Henry Defries and Carolyne Vines, with newcomer Malcolm Warner and Garry Mallen in third.

The Laser fleet welcomed new entrant Alexey Anatskiy, and also the return of ‘irregular regulars’ Jon Redding and Richard Harris.  On this occasion, it was Jon and Richard who showed the fleet how it is done with Jon taking the win, Richard in second, and perennial front-runner Marcus Chavasse having to settle for third this time round.

(c) Jonathan Key 07949 053695

Nine Merlin Rockets graced the start line with the trio of Andy Harris, Peter Mason, and Tim Medcalf forming an early breakaway group.  However, the peloton was not to be denied.  While Andy and Peter pulled away to finish in that order Chris Balmbro and Matt P-J moved in to third and fourth.

The racing was a good workout for everyone, particularly those with an eye on the upcoming Merlin Rocket Open (19 September), N18 Inland Championships (3 October), and Laser Barometer Open (4 October).

Thank you to John Adams and Sue Harris who ran the box, and Paul Jamieson and Martin Adams who were in the patrol boat.  Also to Sara Jamieson and others for helping to run the Veranda Bar, and Jonathan Key for the photos.