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Downs Sailing Club

This years reports
(Past years reports)


2018 End of year report

The winter series finished, with 5 out of 8 races completed, in mild light winds with 22 boats of 8 classes.

The jolly prizegiving on the 23rd December, the last race day, saw Simon and Denise win overall in the 200, Alex Head 2nd in the 4.7 and Steve and Judy 3rd also in a 200.

The ‘Winter Spirit Nip Trophy’ for the highest placed fast handicap boat went to Simon Green’s Finn in 4th . Of course as soon as the trophies were won, guiding hands steered them back to the trophy cabinet. Every sailor who takes part in the series receives a bottle of booze which Martyn had cleverly replaced the contents for the cadets with cold tea just in case the RYA Reps were present.

Talking of the RYA there was a special award for Evie Herrington and Abbey Mumford who have just been given RYA LSE youth training performance fund to help with their sailing expenses. The awards panel were impressed with their reports of their previous year’s efforts and their recent progression into the 420 class. I always used to see this class at the NSSA meetings but as far as I’m aware this is a new resident class for the club. Of course, Eric will tell me that some characters -old Jack Belch and his wife- used to sail one back in the early 50’s or something like that.

For the first year in 25 I was not down for Boxing Day the steaming, mulled wine, minced pie, jostling affair, where hideous relatives can be escaped from and estranged offspring return home to show off the latest boyfriend or girlfriend. All the naff unwanted presents went into the RNLI raffle and this year included an Incorrectly cooked turkey, David Beckham aftershave, a keg of Watney’s Red and hair extensions.

Just when people thought it would the usual BBQ on Christmas Day the weather turned cold and it was a frosty start for the Boxing day race itself, l believe that 14 boats took part and the race was won by Mr and Mrs Restall. To justify the funding Abbey and Evie beat 15 other boats on New Year’s Day to win the ‘Jack Hale Trophy’; you couldn’t make it up ! What now ? you may ask .

Well everyone should be renewing their membership to my one armed wife, the various committees slog on, I have less to write, and boats are battened down, remembering the mice attacked Martyn Wyman’s boat last winter. Keen types will be touring the counties in various sailing comps when they have returned from the inevitable ski slopes. Yes 2018 was another successful year with not too many race cancellations and for both Christmas races the Hale trophy and the Ladies race to take place this hasn’t happened since 1951…………. Happy 2019.

There has been a distinct lack of sailing lately: only 1 winter series race so far has taken place, which was the first of the season. The ‘one start’ combined fast and slow results never materialised, but I do know our cadet captain seems to have won the slow- Fast results are AWOL!

This is where the social side of things can be is so important starting with the now infamous ‘Bakeoff’ on November 1st a marvellous evening for male chefs only. The challenge was to make a savoury pie for a blind judging and then for everyone to feast on a pie of their choice with mash and veg supplied by Julia and crew. Fourteen entrants produced a wonderful and weird selection from chicken, beef, venison and even road kills. The size was limited to 8 inches across of which mine was the only one to comply, but probably just as well for the large guest list consumed everything. Dave Webb’s 100 year old family pork pie recipe was nearly 3ft long and managed 3rd place, I’ve completely forgotten who came 2nd as l was so nervous , but the winner was Eric with a chicken creation that l admit looked professional but he arrived late 30 minutes past the deadline with the said pie. My pie scored the lowest with a 51% approval rating despite it being venison, Puccini mushroom with bilberry sauce. Next lowest was Tony Cook’s 71% super hot beef that to me had a strange burnt twang, several wheel nuts, but l had to be seen to eat it as l was sitting next to him.

The AGM was well attended. The members were introduced to two new exec members, Claire Herrington as House committee and Sarah Shepphard as committee member. The usual reports were read , fees stay the same, a few membership wordage changes, a technical point from Roger which seems to happen every year etc, etc. Unfortunately, the 2 minute silence on remembrance Sunday was missed as sailing was cancelled but the 3 members who were there stood to attention marking 100 years since the outbreak of world war 1.

The prize giving Christmas Supper I can simply say was the best food River caterers have ever done. Even the humble bread roll seemed like the ambrosia of the gods, the gravy was good enough to bathe in , the turkey more moist than a peat bog, the trifle the finest ever and all served on new crockery and washed down in my case with 6 pints of Gadds. Occasional icy blasts from the east wind came through as doors were left open to cool heated members and let out the belches. Soon hands would be left raw with endless applause for the prizewinners and l would recommend examining the new trophy cabinet to note the recipients. Apart from the usual serial winners such as Simon Green-‘best dressed member’ and ‘highest consumption of Gadds ’ -Chris Shelton, this year’s notable awards went to Jeremy in his new Solo for winning the Ron Williams trophy, his first prize in 31 years, Martyn Wyman for winning Summer points despite going missing for long periods and there was a new trophy paid for by the Shepphard family, designed like a section from a frozen lake, in memory of Ian’s sister Suzanne. This will be awarded each year for the person who encourages the participation of sailing for all ages and the natural choice of its first winner was Martyn Styles.

All of the prizewinners from the evening. ^

The Shepphard family with the trophy ^

I was excited to get the sailing results on the Sunday but when l turned up was confronted with raucous laughter and the beer consumption results only, as Winter 4 had been cancelled with the foul east wind.

The last Friday evening activity of the year took place on 7th September, with regular ‘Friday Evening’ gang threading in between the ‘Ladies trophy’ race cancelled from July. Eleven sailors took part in 7 boats, and first home and winners were Yvonne Mumford and daughter Hannah in an RS200. There were other Mumfords scattered through the fleet but all eyes were on the neck and neck tussle between Jo Thomson and Claire Herrington in Radials. At the last breath Jo won by 1 metre. When you see an enjoyable race like that it makes you wonder why people like Claire are not out there all the time.

l was away in Dorset on a ‘one armed’ Streaker training course with Rosie for Autumn 1 & 2 points, but l was present for Autumn 3; and a pretty raucous sail it was. So much so that the 4th race was cancelled. John Cass rigged and then refused to go out after a few 30m.p.h gusts. There was whispering in the changing room that he has rabies but Mike Heeley whispered that it was unlikely. Mike and Mark were subsequently the only finishers in the fast race as Chris Shelton broke his kicker.

The so called slow race seemed very fast to me . Ian Sheppard forgot to put on his new radial sail and went over 6 times , the last a collision with Joe Lord who emerged by crawling along his deck trapped under Ian’s sail not before putting a hole in his bow. Jerry King probably had the performance of the day and seemed to lead Rob who was in a full sheet for much of the race after they had 3 capsizes each. At one mark Rob rounded it whilst clinging on to the underside of the boat, is this race legal ? Do not try this at home folks , but shows what you can do without sailing boots on. Whilst all this was going on Simon and Denise quietly won the race seemingly, but the computer was having none of it.

All of the action was captured by James Barth by an expensive looking camera on one of the rescues and showed just what some people can do on the holy day of rest.

Sunday 19th and Sunday 26th were both cancelled with high winds which is a cruel blow given the time of year and the warm sun. All the evening sails seem to have gone ahead though including the Bank Holiday Monday ‘Commodores cup’ raced in Toppers. This was won by George Hyett in perhaps his first visit to the club all year, with Alex Head 2nd. Of course, Peter has been a regular in George’s Radial all year.

Phil Halldron seems to have won most of the slow handicap races, but Simon Herrington won the last evening race of the year on the 30th in a sort of organised drift and when everyone landed it was pitch black. This was all washed down with a delicious fish ‘n’ chip supper organised by Ed and Keith. The portions were very generous, the batter crisp although someone had sat on mine, and at prices far cheaper than Margate.

The fast handicap racing has been dominated by Simon Green who only eats fish ‘n’ chips once a year to keep his boat weight down, though he was undone by the 400 of Steve and Chris on the night. Steve Restall was seen nursing an injured knee having been bitten by a squirrel in the week.

Gossip, well its all over town about Rosie’s broken wrist, and no it wasn’t from pulling in the mainsheet too hard which one might assume, it was a boring gardening accident. Dick White is selling his Phantom and getting a Solo and frankly l haven’t been down enough to listen to the whisperings in the corridors.

l have no results for the Norman Atkins trophy race on Sunday but plenty of E mails, about changes of course at the last minute, rescue crews blowing raspberries at sailors, sailors shaking their fists at the bridge, 2 new members accidently getting keel hauled, the bridge being bullied by the race computer, a cheese toastie exploding and a blocked toilet etc, etc.

Tuesday points 12 the 7th August and a return from holiday for Jerry King from an exotic island resulted in him immediately winning the slow, with Simon Green winning the fast.

Thursday points 12 had grim rain and funky gusts ,but this all changed, but for those still clinging to the heatwave by their fingertips it was just too cold to bother. This left a matchplay situation that might have interested the golfing types with l pair in each race. Simon Green beating Chris Shelton and Phil Halldron beating Phil Peach on handicap.

Sunday was a raucous warm SW gusting 5 with large waves and many retired before the race even started. John Cass was one of those, muttering “ I’m getting too old for this sport of hell”.

Paul Harris capsized 6 times yet was at the front of the races the previous Sunday. This was all good Contender weather of course and Nigel Cureton’s restored version (the centreboard being the only original piece) won both races despite falling out briefly in race 2. Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs had only one boat to compete against with Mike Heeley and Mark Hall and won both races.

The slow race was dominated by Alex Head in the 4.7 and not just on handicap. He was only stopped briefly when Joe Lord’s radial dragged him over. Ben Hills was in a radial also but the last vicious gust of the day threw him out of the boat like a cat from an upstairs window in race 2 ! Joe Lord overtook him for a second Ben Hills scalp of the year. Phil Halldron has a new look ‘Nam veteran’ with a bandana, and Ian has decided that all beach crew should wear a Fez to be easily identified. Heike managed to hold her own in a Topper and was one of the few who didn’t capsize all day.

With the new 7p.m start on Tuesday and with the Commodore’s family week still on going, pushchairs, half eaten cakes, sandcastles and various toys were pulled to one side to launch 11 boats. Despite John’s lack of enthusiasm the previous Sunday, himself and Julia won the fast. It was a welcome return for duo Max Taylor-Nobbs and Mark Lightbody in a less than trendy for them 2000 and a win. Tim Waite and John Sharvill would argue against that, but were a little nervous after some families were tempted to row out to them to continue the frivolities. I have just returned from a cancelled Thursday night. The heavy rain had stopped, a very light breeze had started but the light was dreadful and a sheepish Jerry King, as bridge officer, tried to sneak out past the only keen types – us, the Lords! The drinking had already started and a few sober types were poking half heartedly at the new boatshed foundations…………. roll on Sunday.

Thanks to the new race computer there are 32 result sheets in my ‘in box’ and l will try and summarize the recent events and the juicy bits.

Looking back at the Regatta week there were two cancelled races; the Bank Buoy Scramble through lack of wind and the Vancouver cup through too much wind. The Beauchamp vase race on the Tuesday seems to have been won by Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs. The missing results for the Deal Handicap races finally surfaced in a corner of the club and it seems to have been won by Ed and Sarah. Tuesday points 11 and the last day of a blazing July was a rare outing of late for Peter Freeland in a Laser for a win. Simon Herrington was 2nd but he would win later in the week. His children Evie and Alfie were doing well in various types of Laser, John Sharvill went solo in a Miracle and new member Scott Walker was out for the first time in a beautiful pea green Streaker with a wooden deck. The old partnership was back in the fast race John and Julia after Julia had returned from the Falkland islands and an ancient duo were together Chris and Dave in the old 400.

The mystery man A.Medlock in a Contender (a complete invention of the computer) as competed in the last 3 races replacing Alan Mollatt, God forbid they should ever meet- it could be matter meeting anti-matter. Thursday points 11 intially was put down as a win for Lee Pickup in a Streaker but she is the official head of the cruiser fleet. After Simon’s win, outstanding performance must go to Rosie for her 3rd after a power drift on a strange tack that left Stuart in his own words a ‘bemused meerkat’ and her son in a Laser who was left shaking his fist. It could be that she now feels confident being at the head of the fleet after the wetsuit repair which had revealed her maximum glutenous.

Sunday’s first race suffered from a fierce tide and the winds were lighter than expected. It was a sort of easterly in the usual strong sun. Phil dominated race 1 from Martyn Wyman but roles were reversed in race 2. Scott Walker came 3rd in race 1 then retired not knowing there was a 2nd race. Incredibly he comes with the latest Streaker fashion no transom ropes and a free boom. Performance of the day in my opinion goes to Paul Harris in the Aero at the head of the race all day.

Simon Green won the fast singlehanders twice but this group seemed to suffer the most with the strong tides, the Contenders barely moving and there was a fierce battle between Medlock and Mollatt at one point. The doublehander fleet was more interesting after John and Julia’s win in race one Ed and Sarah were forced ashore with a flooded boat blaming each other for leaving the bung out. When l rescued them you could only see the top of Ed’s head, “don’t put this on the website”Ed pleaded, “don’t worry l won’t” l reassured him. Though they did win the next race.

Mike Heeley was out with Mark Hall. Mike having recently been pushed under a San Fransico tram by a passing maniac, got caught on the underside and toured most of the city for free. There was a foreign contingent shouting Brexit obscenities in the form of Heike fresh from Germany and Frenchman Jean Claude in a 2000 and all of this was washed down with mildly warm Gadds.

Thursday 12th July had pleasant winds and in the slow handicap l was jumping up and down as Joe Lord led then singlehanders from the start, to the last mark of the final lap where the Lord curse caused him to ram Jerry King and he was forced to do a 956 degree turn and finished 4th. Simon and Denise were 1st Adam Page, and the smallest crew member ever, in a 2000 3rd.

The fast fleet was a dress rehearsal for the weekends open meeting in some ways with Simon Green’s first ever venture into a Phantom against Richard White which would prove to be the most interesting head to head on the actual day. Ian Shepherd was upside down in the international 14.

The Contender/Phantom open meeting had 8 knot NE winds for the training day on the Saturday but as predicted the winds collapsed for the Sunday and this was probably the reason for the low entry numbers with 9 Contenders and 5 Phantoms. Adrian Smith won the Contenders from the HSSC club not to be confused with the HSBC bank, a delighted Alan Mollatt was 6th as the highest placed Downs sailor. Nigel Cureton was back for the first time in his newly repaired craft, the only original piece not replaced being the rudder. Chris Shelton won the Phantoms with Simon 2nd and Richard 3rd.

Thursday points 10 had 18 boats (13 slow) in delightful conditions and again Joe Lord led from start to finish , but the Lord curse struck again when he lost on handicap by 10 seconds to the two Streakers of Phil and Jeremy. Rick Clemence was out in a Radial and Alan Mollatt lasted for 5 minutes before sinking after pushing his bailer unit through the bottom of the boat, midst a hail of splinters. “It is the biggest wreck l have ever bought” he bemoaned but by Sunday it was up and running with ‘Gorilla bailer repair glue’. Simon Green won the fast unusually in a Finn and Chris was 2nd.

The ladies race on Friday was the usual non- starter with the sea resembling a mirror. This time last year it was halted after only Jo Thomson went out and she should have been awarded the trophy. This time hoards of wives, girlfriends, sisters, grandmothers, nuns and mistresses had turned up, but it soon descended into a heavy drinking bout.

Regatta week started on Sunday and the weather was brilliant, the Serengeti sun went in, the southerly was brisk, frothy and funky. Everyone seemed to capsize at some point - Rick Clemence 3 times and Ben Hills twice which is almost a blessing given the heat . Except in one small corner Rosie’s first capsize of the year turned ugly and resulted in a mast bent like a banana and after my ape like repair job now also has a crease in it. Still she seemed sanguine and cool about it, not surprising given the fist-sized hole revealing her bottom through the wetsuit. Joe Lord also hit the seabed and the mast took a chip out of the deck and in the excitement l split my new summer shirt. The backdrop was exciting too with 35 yachts racing to the bank buoy in the Ramsgate regatta, and by the way black is the new white for sail colour. A mad triathalon was being run behind the club and as Jerry King reads this in Croatia sitting on his lounge bed, wondering what to do next , he might regret going on holiday. New member - a Scott Walker turned up with a beautiful Streaker which has a wooden deck and a lime green hull.

One of the new Hartleys was out Friday night with some keen youngsters onboard at the end of another heatwave week. Everytime they are mentioned l automatically think of the children’s T.V programme ‘Hartley Hare’ from the 1970’s - is there anyone out there who can share this with me ?

Sunday had the biggest fleet of the year with 30 boats on the water , 15 slow, 6 fast single and 9 doublehanders. My name and shame campaign has pulled in sailors from golf courses, gardens, tvs and pubs and, in some cases, even holidays have been cancelled.

There were some interesting sights out there, Brian Cory on the ‘A’ class for the first time this year. An A. Mollack on the race sheet in fact turned out to be Alan Mollatt back in the old Contender- his son was out in the old Streaker. Martyn Styles was out in Rogers’s Streaker again but complaining about the lack of leg room despite the largest cockpit of any small dingy. There were 7 streakers with a possible 3 more including the new wonder kid Hannah Mumford who even Rob’s Laser could not get past in race 2. Interestingly, there was only one 400 out there, they all seem to be mid-week yet there were four 2000’s which don’t appear in the week.

Reports were soon coming in from the clear water further out of giant jelly fish the size of dustbin lids, in hideous shades of cream and brown. Ian still has the sucker marks from Thursday to prove his encounter, strange, though, that some are even on his neck !

Deal was like a scene from one of those old 1950’s photos when everyone holidayed by the sea, and although the conditions were not as exciting as last Sunday it was a steady NE. Rob Freeland won race 1 in the slow but retired in race 2 to leave the way clear for Jerry King. The fast singles had the same result twice with Chris Shelton beating Simon Green. Simon and Denise won race 1 in the doublehanders ,John and Julia won race 2.

This weekend the club hosts a Contender and Phantom open meeting, so anyone who can help will be very welcome…… from toilet attendants to people armed with clubs to keep the jellyfish further out.

Going back to Thursday 28th June and it was the case of the usual new prevailing wind a NE with some strong gusts and big waves. Most chickened out except 3 boats led by Simon Cory who insisted they took the plunge . Phil Peach lost a rudder and Simon Herrington’s hair was slightly ruffled.

Redoubt sailing on the Saturday had the same fresh winds and strong sun and everyone came back sun burnt: Mania looked like Al Jolson.

Sunday 1st July was the ‘Queen Mother’s Cup’ and by tradition the boats charge down to Walmer castle in the once hope of seeing a glimpse of royal hand or ankle. Nowadays boats are more likely to catch a lobbed beer can or fishing hook close to shore. I remember when Ed was struck in the same race, many moons ago, and lost a section of beard and had a hole put in the sail on the old Buzz. Chris Stubbs and Steve Restall were the eventual winners, Chris Shelton 2nd and Simon and Denise 3rd. On such a delicious day I was puzzled by the low turnout, where are people like Stewart, Paul and Rob ? Simon Green has been missing after getting a chicken bone lodged in his throat but did take part in the Finn nationals at Hayling Island where he came 26th out of 66. Phil Halldron has been at Streaker nationals on the Shetland islands.

Summer points 7, the next race, saw Nigel Cureton out for the first time this year in Tony Cook’s Phantom after his Contender was smashed up when a mast went through the deck over the winter. After a prolonged capsize Chris Shelton showed him what to do. The slow race had a win for Martyn Wyman and Jeremy got 2nd in his Solo, which proves he should get out more and don’t be so silly. Steve and Chris won the doublehanders and everyone had a dramatic landing in big waves.

On a sour note, the clubhouse had been attacked by graffiti - no doubt a ‘care in the community’ on a day trip from Margate.

Tuesday 3rd was the England match (which is the same as watching paint dry) but it was enough for only 2 people to turn up and the racing to be cancelled. Thursday had the rarest of things, a southerly wind on one of the hotter days of the year. Ian went swimming and was duly stung by a giant jellyfish. It’s just as well the walking boots were on, or it could have been a lot worse as l dragged him clear. John and Julia were getting close at times to you know who, and Chris and Max have improved but still focus too much on the fish ‘n’ chips. Simon and Denise won the slow and by this stage everyone had just about cooled off- unlike the Gadds,no doubt.

Raucous waves have caused havoc and chaos for the Thursday and Friday evening races. Tuesday went ahead though and Ben, Neale and Jerry were battling it out in the Lasers. Despite his win Ben was last on Sunday as far as the computer sheets will allow me to read. Eric and Catherine were 1st on Tuesday but were beaten on Sunday in the doublehanders by Simon and Denise.

Saturday was a solstice banquet with a delicious salad of either pate from the Falkland islands or Brazilian cheeses. Apparently the sun stops revolving around the earth for 3 days but after 6 pints of Gadds who cares ? After dancing the night away l was intrigued to watch an adult fox , the first l have ever seen at the club on the green. Perhaps it was attracted to the disco and such classics as the ‘tweety song’. It then went into the boat park - probably to maul one of Martyn Wyman’s boats.

Sunday had some minor drama, Jo Thomson left most of her ropes on the beach and had to be rescued kicking and biting, Hannah Mumford was out in a borrowed Streaker and did 3 laps whilst queen of the Streakers, Rosie, could only look on in envy at the conditions, whilst pumping the bilges on Bluebird. There were 4-5 people on Ed’s 2000 including son Jerry and daughter Lilly- they came last.

Ian was back on the beach after sailing round the Cape and Alan Mollatt explained to me that several non- finishes of his lately have been caused by a seal that keeps distracting him…that’s worse than one of my stories!

Sunday 10th June the boats went around and around except Ben Hills who capsized after getting tangled in his main sheet rope. Alan Mollatt forgot to finish race 2. All the interest was on the Hornets who won both doublehander races. Eric and Catherine won race 1 but Clinton and Mark won race 2, which was their first outing of the year. Eric was stunned and crazed and was virtually frothing at the mouth when he tried to beat them landing ashore, no one could understand what way round his boat was coming out in the usual large NE waves.

Simon Green won the fast singlehander but was the only entrant. This success he transferred to the ‘Man of Kent’ at Margate on the Saturday where he was the highest Downs sailor in 3rd place. Downs won the team prize in a competition that had its title questioned as being too gender specific. There have been some angry exchanges with trans- gender sailors for example.

Tuesday points 5 had a raucous edge Julia Blackman said “not at any point were my feet actually on the deck” This was not a reference to her recent Baltic cruise. Incredibly mummy Judd and baby Judd won in a 200. Thursday had steady but lightish winds and there was a new duo, Simon Herrington and Martyn Wyman in the now old 200 . They were off pace however to Simon and Denise who won, Phil Peach 2nd. There were five 400s, Chris and Max are a work in progress, there was an RS800 plodding round and Alan Mollatt forgot to finish again .

Saturday was a feisty day at Redoubt Hythe, a rare westerly wind forcing the youngsters off the water in the afternoon , but the adult learners continued.

Sunday 17th had a grim forecast: at 6.30 in the morning at Tilmanstone boot fayre everyone was grim faced (even more grim than usual) as it spat with rain. However, the sailing times brought out the sun and probably the best day of the year was had by all. At least 26 boats out, loads of lasers suddenly from nowhere, including Julia Judd who managed to break a mast in race 2 after probably winning race 1 in a Radial. Joe Thomson lost her main sheet rope and l was involved walking her boat back from the pier. John Sharvill suddenly became interested in the design of the 2000 rudder, got wrapped around it and capsized with the commodore. Everyone had tales of excitement at the various marks as the SW wind increased steadily for race 2. Phil Halldron was spun around like a fairground ride (he has a similar effect after 2 pints of Gadds) ruining Rosie’s chance of being at least near the fleet, Jeremy Blackman quit in the Solo shattered, Martyn Styles was in Roger’s Streaker and was forced to retire with a septic knee but was later seen skipping to his car. Joe Lord as usual capsized at the start and joined the others with endless capsizes at the East mark. Richard White was out with a mysterious and glamourous young woman in the 400 and there were great speeds with the spinnakers up. Jerry King said “l was positively frightened out there but my new cheapo sail stood up to the challenge”. Roger was seen at the bar buying rounds of drinks, Ed was busily watering the flowers, on a day when secretly everyone would like to have been out there.

Tuesday points 2 was a lively sail by all accounts and with Ben Hills mysteriously appearing again, after being absent from the open meeting. He took the win. As to who won the fast race l have just lost the race sheet and cannot tell you. Thursday was cancelled with a vicious NE and very low temperatures. Despite this , some poor souls had to get a rescue boat out in order to retrieve a mark that had blown into the front doors of the Rowing club. At this point we decided to take in the foul cold air with a walk across the cliffs from Kingsdown, although this was nearly thwarted as the cliff top path was closed, a bomb scare with army and police everywhere. The German bomb turned out to be a rounded base to an old metal fence.

Friday cadets had their new ‘On Board Scheme’ sailing bibs for a photo shoot which, thanks to John Sharvill, actually got printed in the Mercury. In fact mysteriously, there hasn’t been a picture of rowing for a while- perhaps they were all trapped in by the stray marker buoy.

Sunday was a bit of a let down ,in a gentle NE, boats moved well at times and at others they were a little motionless, even the fast boats. Ben Hills won the first slow race but Jerry King, the calm wind specialist, took the second. The big story was Tony Cook in the Phantoms beating Chris Shelton twice.

Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs took the doublehander race, Richard White and Rick Clemence second twice. Phil Halldron was cursing the speed of his craft and cursing the Gods, Peter Hyett was taking the family Radial for an outing but was last because of the conditions. Ed revealed he has a temporary eye condition that has given him the vision of a housefly with thousands of small hexagon shapes: he can see every pulley and rope on a boat at one glance. Ed could be deadly on his next sail- if only he can leave the dirty plates alone in the canteen.

Tuesday 3 seemed to have no fast boats for some reason, Adam Page and Catherine won in a 2000 Peter Freeland was 2nd in a Laser Ben 3rd. Thursday 2 had the usual NE and although it looked threatening it tapered off. A healthy 20 boats were out - 12 in the slow and 8 in the fast. In the slow Jo Thomson was back after her Portugal holiday, 2 boats strangely chose not to cross the finish line, and Jerry King, after his poor sail Tuesday, is back on track for celebrity sailor award. Tony Cook won the fast and is now selling the Contender and referred to it as ‘ the old grey slug’ which won’t help sell it. The only down side to the evening was a dodgy landing, but at least the water was warm. As we left the club a merry band of Hogarth like ‘Green Berry’ refugees appeared to continue their merriment on the club Gadds as part of the Thursday club activities.

The singlehander open meeting was a logistical success at the weekend though the winds disappointed at times. Three boxes of beer consumed, 232 sausages, 567 rashers of bacon, 27 socks in lost property , 8 types of dingy, 29 boats some from as far afield as Dorset and Norfolk.

Race training Saturday included talented sailing coach Streaker guru Doug Horner of Swanage, home-grown Chris Catt and Toby Freeland as well as others… Entertainment provided by Steve Boalch alias new stage name Adrian Parsnip and glamourous female singer provided jazzy cover numbers whilst people scoffed Jeremy’s well cooked BBQ fair. Mind you, he had just started when the heavens opened and the machine was moved to the porch. Singing ,belching, yelling and laughter continued well into the night. l left early, my stomach sloshing with craft ale and fermenting beef.

More wind was promised but never really arrived and the first two races on Sunday managed to get round at a leisurely plod, yet things did get better till the last 20 minutes of race 4 after 5 hours on the water. The fleet was a long way off shore and difficult for beach watchers , but they in turn were entertained by rubbernecking a car crash at the back of the club that closed the whole of the Strand for 3 hours.

There were 3 categories: the Streaker fleet of a healthy 13 boats, general handicap full of weird and wonderful craft and the laser race. Alan Mollatt got off to a bad start in the first two races in the streakers and it was feared that his boat might sink again. The air was blue with strange language and despairing laughter but he managed a high finish in the last two races. Jeremy Daniells won the first race easily and put the Streaker coach in a worrying position, but he was the only boat to retire after 3 races. Simon Cory was constantly 3rd, and Rosie and Phil fought it out at the back, and who actually won that would be debated long into the night at the bar. Doug Warner won with James Dawes 2nd also from Swanage. Pierce Seward from Broadstairs won the GH race in an Aero 7, Simon Green was 2nd and also won’ best dressed sailor’, and Ned Stattesfield 3rd in an Aero 7 from the strangely named’ Wells right next to the sea ‘ club Norfolk and also won the ‘furthest travelled sailor’. Jeremy’s new Solo had a chunk removed from the hull after hitting the outfall on launching and Ed’s new theory is that the recent good form and excellent cooking by Jeremy is more like his twin brother from London- there could be an insurance issue there if he is not a member.

Shock of the day must have been the win for Jerry King in the Laser fleet, “ but , but I’ve never won anything in my life before” he blurted, before chinking glasses easily at the bar with the usual winning types. Broken men were Neil Farr 2nd and Rob Freeland 3rd. At one point Ian Sheppard had his flying 15 spinnaker up on the beach, 20 square metres which tipped the boat over and reduced the wind for the fleet out at sea, and of course Monday had a fresh Northerly…… naturally.

Whether one was on Eric’s committee yacht, rescue boats, kitchens, beach crew, bridge or, in my case toilet duty it was good to be involved.

Spring points 9 and 10 had a nasty Northerly airflow and as Jo Thomson observed sleepy eyed from her boudoir “boats seemed to be going over all the time”.

This didn’t stop Alex Head winning both races of course in his 4.7, and is fast becoming a high wind specialist and nothing to do with his new race diet.

Spring points 11 and 12 had delicious conditions with a crisp NE wind bright sun, clear waters. Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs seemed to enjoy it the most, winning both races. Stuck on the beach people fell easy victim to a Belgium film crew who were filming and interviewing people for their version of the ‘Coast’ series. Their walk would take them as far as Gravesend, but as Ed pointed out sourly “you won’t get past the estuary at Pegwell ! “. But before the words had left his salty lips they had surrounded a chirpy neoprene cladded Will Thomson, son of Jo- obviously they had covered the old ‘sea dog ‘ story line already. As Ed looked on helpless Will was soon regaling them with maritime stories and taking time to reveal the state of the art race features of the windmill. They obviously thought as it was the only boat on the beach he had actually won, when he had in fact rowed ashore to host a toddlers tea party. He even had time to promote his own literary efforts to the gullible trio: his ‘Pooh sticks and water flow theory ‘ or something like that. By the time word went round , Rosie had had a makeover and waded ashore like Ursula in the Bond movie but all too late, for the cameras had moved on.

Hopes were high for the Bank Holiday Monday given the previous day, but hopes would soon be dashed on the non-existent rocks. The hot sticky day would soon become stickier as the wind dropped. Five slow boats were over the line and there was no recall , Phil turned back , Alex Head was summoned home by radio and Simon Herrington, who thought he had won, was also disqualified. Shock upon shock at the bar when word went round that Jeremy Blackman had actually won the Ron Williams cup in his new 3 yr old Solo. Yes, this was the very same boat from yesterday that he had sat in upside down for long periods. I have looked through extensive records and found 8 years ago he had last won a race in his Laser by default. Simon and Denise were 2nd and Phil 3rd. Most were content to try and get around the dreaded Bank Buoy. It took Rosie 45 minutes.

In the Allen Trophy boats were actually seen to move and it was another win for Steve and Chris. All of this had the backdrop of the brocante a madhouse of bric a brac sold by antique wannabees. The strangest item was a stuffed ostrich and, low and behold, a woman walked past the club with it under her arm.

Waffle aside, things are hotting up apart from the weather the first Friday sailing 11th May, singlehander race training Saturday with Club BBQ in the evening , Singlehander open meeting Sunday and, shock horror, the first evening sail next week, Tuesday 15th.

A very exciting Sunday saw 18 boats in hot sun, vicious gusts and, the most bizarre thing of all, a gin clear sea where you could see the anchors on the marks at 5 metres depth.

The pity was, despite the azure, foreign light , 13 boats did not finish in race 1 and only 7 boats started race 2. It was a constant tale of woe, breakages, too many capsizes in the cold water, old sprains, lingering back aches, knee pains or the recognition that the boats that were finishing were the ones with the most boat hours this year and that natural balance one gains from that. The speeds down wind were exciting to watch for the land lubbers, with the spray and water displacement,

There were battles that never materialised father versus son in the Freeland’s case as to who would carve the Sunday roast, yet Rob could only manage trips to the seabed and as he said afterwards “ Why not, it was a rare opportunity given the clarity”. Alan Mollatt one minute was in a Streaker the next driving the rescue boat then sailing a streaker again. Ben Hills broke his rudder, his watch, 2 ropes but carried on.

Toby Freeland won the first race with 6 laps in one of the numerous family Lasers, Chris Shelton was 2nd in a Phantom , Alex 3rd in a 4.7.

The gusts did get less violent for the second race although boats continued to go over. The course was shortened and brought inshore which favoured Alex’s body weight and he over took everyone, Toby 2nd and Phil Halldron 3rd who never seems to go over. Joe Lord who had the rescue boat cut his daggerboard rope free after wrapping around his neck then preceded to swim after it at the furthest mark. Luckily there was no wave height and as ‘safety sailing squirrel’ would sing “never leave the damn boat”. Whilst all this was going on the rescue boat course being run by Chris Danican was taking place and as Rosie said afterwards “engines, two-stroke oil, throttles- it’s all so interesting , I wish sometimes I had been born a man” . Feminist hate mail please to our own address, not the clubs , as we try to salvage our marriage !

Spring Points catch up

At last pen can go to paper, hulls can touch water etc, etc. Of course l haven’t actually witnessed any racing yet myself but have plenty of spies at work in various guises trying to get their duties done before the decent weather as per usual. Or perhaps she is tying to spare my bare legs launching and retrieving and,as Mike Heeley’s lecture on exposure to cold water revealed , my knee caps could explode due to trapped gases. ( I’d better check my lecture notes)

There has been plenty of gossip heard at the bar in the canteen and the disabled toilet. Get this one, apparently Ed was on a day trip to Salisbury the day of the nerve agent attack, has a Russian aunt and has recently started drinking ‘Wodka’. People will be keeping a close eye on him no doubt as he tucks into his potato and cabbage stew.

There is a new race control system installed by Sam Taylor-Nobbs who has worked night and day to tease out the finer glitches. The comment from a recent trainee on the Bridge was that it is a beautiful system. Perhaps Sam could now apply his analytical brain to sorting out the new coffee machine in the canteen… Alex Head has a brand new 4.7 and that new members, James Barth and Lauren Niven were out on day one in a 400. Our treasurer is back from New Zealand after a ‘finding herself’ trip and has a Maori tattoo in an unusual place.

Simon Cory and Denise Judd won the first two races on April fools day in the 200 with just twelve boats out. But, with a harbinger of things to come, Alex Head won the Easter Medallion Race on the bank holiday. He only arrived at the last minute riddled with chocolate, watched by his sister A.K.A. cadet captain who has a dislocated knee - something l can empathise with. The new vice commodore Julia fell out of the 400 and was in the water ages before John could do some 3 point turns. Luckily a St Bernard dog was on hand with brandy on landing thanks to Mike.

Whilst seeking religious enlightenment on the Camino I hear that the following week was cancelled through lack of wind. This weekend however the 15th at last had a sense of spring and although there was fog and a lack of wind initially, it did turn juicy later on. A healthy 17 boats took part- including the ‘Windmill’ out for a cruise. Chris Shelton won the first race and was 2nd to the deadly duo of Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs in Spring Points 6. The battle of the Streakers in already hotting up with 5 on the water. Martyn Wyman taking race 1 for 7th overall , Jeremy Daniells winning race 2 for the same position. Alan Mollatt had a large issue with the start line and a mouse has chewed through major ropes. Phil Peach has made the move from the ‘Friday Academy’ with daughter Emma in an RS feva and great tribute must be given to his crew for getting them around the course, in spite of the fierce Spring tide.

With temperatures set to hit the mid 70’s during the week it really is time to check the wetsuit still fits and get on down to Downs.

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