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Downs Sailing Club

This years reports
(Past years reports)

A raucous southerly wind, with global warming heat, greeted the fleet for Autumn 9 and 10. There were plenty of capsizes and broken fixtures and fittings and Sarah was even catapulted from the 2000 after the toe strap broke. Ian Sheppard retired after his kicker assembly disappeared over the side etc. etc.

Ben Hills has been having some trouble in the Lasers this time, losing to Rob twice. l even saw him pawing at his boat afterwards looking for a phantom leak to explain the situation, though he had borrowed someone else’s lower mast after the fitments on his had fallen off. Simon and Denise have been at the gym all week in preparation for the show down with Hannah and Tara in battle of the 200’s; unfortunately they were not there after exhausting themselves at the KSSA event in Whitstable the previous day where there were exciting conditions for the 30 boats.

Nearer home there were 4 Streakers out but there is now the potential for 8 with the latest arrival being proudly delivered by Ian Mollatt. It has a wooden deck, a red hull, and with a profusion of mad black lines all over it. Apparently the seller claimed that it had been the personal favourite boat of the builder Mr Butler who still has a photo of it next to his bed and longs for its return,…. but we will keep it secret, unless it was all part of a hard sell.

The fast fleet remains small but Tony and Nigel were back in action, Tony retired in the second race however after the frightening forecast. The jovial Simon Green managed to win both races in the Finn.

Lurking in the background was the threat of hurricane Derek with force 12 winds forecast in Biscay, and Ireland to be battered, boats were swiftly hauled up the beach, wigs had extra glue applied along with false teeth and l lashed various extra ropes on the family boats. Of course, l shouldn’t have bothered as barely a yellow leaf came down.

Going back all the way to Autumn points 5 on 24th September, there were near perfect conditions and one of the best sails of the year, with 23 boats of 10 classes.

Ed and Sarah won the slow from Simon and Denise. There were only 3 boats in the fast race and John and Julia took advantage of this to win both races. The singlehanders in the form of Toby and Rob fought it out in the Lasers with Ben Hills being left for dead. In the end Hannah Mumford and Tara Head were 2nd to Simon and Denise but this would be the warning to come.

The Rice Trophy race and the Commodore’s Cup for 1st cadet were cancelled due to high winds.

Autumn 7 had a better fast fleet but there are key protagonists still missing, namely Chris Shelton, Nigel Cureton and Tony Cook. My spies have been out and about, however (namely Ed ) and Tony has been spotted doing Yoga on the green and walking a small poodle.

Purists would say there was a lack of wind on Sunday for Autumn 7&8 and sailors had to concentrate hard. Something remarkable happened on one little spot of such a big sea: a shaft of sunlight hit Rosie’s boat like a giant hand and pushed her from last all the way around the back of the fleet to first. Even Ben Hills was left static , Roger in the panic started sailing in the wrong direction, Rob Freeland threatened to jump overboard and Jeremy Blackman was left a seething mass of gristle in his Aero.

This divine intervention left her full of confidence, it told her that she can keep up with the best, especially now she has batons in her sail (Roger take note), she finished 4th in the end, a whisker behind Rob.

Simon and Denise won, but this joy and punching of the air, patting the side of the boat might be their last celebration……. On a technical note the ‘Red Tea Clipper’ or Albacore seems very even with the Hornet downwind despite not having a spinnaker (or perhaps it does ?) but seems to lose out into the wind. With what seemed an age between races the biggest talking point was the distance that Hannah and Tara managed at one point to leave Simon and Denise in battle of the 200’s- they finished 2nd in the end behind Ben Hills. Roger got his act together and led Rob for most of the race to finish 4th, as for Rosie she got a credible 6th out of 15 in 4 laps of racing. Richard and Martyn won the first fast race, Simon Green won the next in the Finn, and the only thing that spoiled the day was a tricky landing in big waves and a very deep high tide, but it was a good excuse for me to get the ‘ hyperactive over helpful’ award.

The KSSA annual Regatta on Saturday was of course a logistical success like a well oiled machine with Martyn at the helm. This ranged from homemade cupcakes to committee boats, more rescue boats than you could shake a stick at and even a tow bar assembly replacement by Richard Winters for an unfortunate parent whose trailer end had bent.

It was probably the biggest operation since the NSSA regatta with 55 boats on the water: it made a spectacular sight in the autumn sun and all of this was captured by Mr Chick’s dustbin sized camera with videos out to sea, drones and even satellite involvement. Two races took place in the morning and gave some good sport for 2 hours before lunch, however post lunch the wind dived and only one short race was completed before it was abandoned.

The prize giving afterwards hosted by Stuart was fully attended and giant burgers and sausages were soon appearing from the on-site BBQ.

All of this got everyone very excited for Sunday and wet wetsuits in some cases were squeezed into for Autumn points 3 and 4. The second race also doubling for ‘Bart’s Bash’, the charity event where you can compare your class results around the world. Rosie last year was the 3014th Streaker- which is strange because the sail numbers barely go beyond 2000. Twenty one boats skipped around the course in fairly gentle breezes which died completely at the end when boats were trying to return to shore. The annoying cluster of Streakers, Lasers and Aeros were doing the usual yo-yoing around the marks and in race 1 around the 2nd mark it was inevitable there would be a huge pile up. With screams, yells, swearing and the rendering sounds of fibreglass and plastic audible from the shore, Stuart was lifted twice clear of the water, Ed and Sarah’s 2000 was in the thick of it. Ed got tangled in the spinnaker and only emerged like Cleopatra from a rug on the 3rd lap which was still good enough to win both races. Mind you, boats might have heard the swearing from the beach as l searched frantically for my car keys on a precipitous beach where one slight touch and it moved like a giant sand dune. After my hands were red raw, the keys actually materialised by the clubhouse.

The two 400’s in the race were very close at times and at least you could see what was going on. Phil Peach was out in a Feva with his young daughter in their first ever race, which is a pity because the bridge thought they were on a lake tour and they didn’t get a result. Ben Hills had a bad hair day beaten by Rob and led by Joe most of race 1 then over the line for race 2 and then the final insult someone pinched his sledge. Tony Cook took the wooden spoon and was the only boat to record just 1 lap in race 2 in his Phantom. Then l stopped him a bit suddenly on landing and he performed the best backward roll seen on a boat,- plus he was beaten by the Albacore.

I was mentally shattered after all of the activities and settled down to a cupcake and tea and put my feet on a chair. This was spotted from the bar but apparently it’s allowed for ‘Exec members’. Perhaps that luxury might be a tempter for joining again at the AGM.

It’s a sad day that the evening sailing has come to an end. For many this means a whole lifestyle change…… No more naughty fish ‘n’ chips in the clubhouse, no more that naughty mid- week pint or two, no more tripping over the cat whilst trying to hang out the wetsuits in the dark and no more itchy places in the morning because l was too tired to have a shower.

Tuesday points 15 had a motley bunch of just 7 boats, with an elusive Martyn Wyman winning in his Streaker and Tony Cook the fast in his lucky Phantom.

Thursday the very last session, had 16 boats showing solidarity in a juicy wind that just tapered off at the end. Paul Harris had his finest hour ever on a boat and led the 10 slow boats in his Aero 7 for the whole race till being overtaken by Neale Farr in his Laser 10 yards from the finish. Paul looked like a contented toad and somehow knew that everyone behind him was struggling to catch him. The cruel handicap of course put him in a lowly 4th. Chris and Max, killing time before their highlight of the week the fish ‘n’ chips, came 1st, and recent great grandfather, Simon Green, won the fast.

One of the biggest stories to break in recent years in my opinion involved Chris Shelton who as he drifted past Rosie’s boat casually wondering whether to add a battered sausage to his meal list, noticed that Rosie’s sail lacked a lower baton. Had there ever been one ? Does it explain Rosie’s poor run of form ? How long has it been missing ? etc. etc.

Roger was in complete denial and managed to withstand some withering ‘Paddington’ stares from shocked types at the bar. Then, strangely, a brand new rope of Roger’s that was allegedly stolen, has arrived under Joseph’s sledge: was this a deflective cover story? Am l twittering ? And will hundreds of hours of camera footage have to be gone through ?

Still, armed with her new baton from shocked staff at P&B with comments like “what the hell is going on in Deal !” and “no stone will be left unturned to get you a baton by Sunday madam “ Rosie duly led the first race. This was until she decided to visit friends at the pier, or that was the cover story. Roger was showing off, sporting a full set of batons and winning both races , great grandfather Simon Green won both fast singlehanders and would you believe Tony Cook beat Chris twice in battle of the Phantoms for 2nd place. Richard was staying well clear of the Phantom sagas and was on safer ground winning both doublehander races in the 400 with Martyn.

In other points of interest, there were large amounts of seaweed, the new outfall pipe was fully exposed and looks like a 1920’s motorbike exhaust with gungy black stuff coming out of the end. Jo Thomson was out in a canoe bored with the sailing weather and now has two M.P.s on her Goodwin Sands case. Mercury library picture of her this week for Jo watchers was number 9 ‘angry blonde’.

Ian Sheppard has discovered that the bow sprit of the flying 18 or 15 in its 10ft length cuts off the footpath around the clubhouse corner when extended, the suggestion was that on big events like vintage car shows it should be extended with ‘members only toilets’ written on it. As he pointed out this could look weird out at sea.

There has been a lot of water flowing through the channel since l last put pen to paper, mainly because Rosie was away and I’m not allowed to touch her new computer without supervision.

Every single race has taken place since Tuesday points 13 on the 8th August when Adam Page and the exotically named Zazia won the slow race in a 2000. Ian Sheppard took out his new Laser the boat that’s believed to be haunted but was last. Simon Green and Tony Cook seem to have great fun battling it out between the Finn and the Phantom in the fast.

Thursday was a sort of eerie evening and the floodlights were certainly needed on the clubhouse to pack away. Simon and Denise won the slow but were pushed all the way in a noble effort by new partnership Julia Judd and Evie Herrington in a Feva ZX f2 S or something like that. Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs won the fast in the 400.

Sunday 13th was not overly exciting by all accounts . Jeremy Daniells is back in town and was ruffling feathers with the streakers , except the unflappable Simon Herrington who won the first race but they swopped positions in the next. Chris Shelton who has been watching Tony and Simon from the shore thought that he would enjoy the excitement in the fast singlehanders and Simon and Denise were winners in the doublehanders.

Tuesday 15th had some interesting faces, Neale Farr has begun his autumn and winter routine and the water shy Roger was 2nd in his best result of the year. Simon and Tony were at it again, this time Tony had to buy the drinks.

Thursday was a disaster for the Lord family forgetting the new start time and we could only watch as boats raced down wind to the start line in an inky, swollen, high tide with some fierce gusts. Simon Green won the fast but then he was the only fast boat. Simon and Denise won the slow and Jerry King was 2nd in a Radial.

The whole week of course had been the famous ‘Club week’ or family week started by Stuart - a mixture of activities on and off the water. A bit like the cosy atmosphere of being at a beach hut all day and much cheaper than the compound nextdoor. The Commodores charity race and events in aid of ‘Red Trouser day’ were on the Saturday of which l have no results for.

Sunday was a dreary beginning with mutterings from the bridge of cancelling the whole race due to the complete lack of wind in the stuffy sun. A wisp of cloud appeared however and suddenly a juicy wind kicked in for the delayed start. Both races seemed to be led all the time by Ryan Winter’s Radial in the slow with Ben Hills struggling to keep up possibly after clouting his knee on the centreboard. Rosie said a tragic whimpering could be heard from his boat until the pain abated. A new member on a Topper also returned to shore with a bloodied knee. Another new member Mike Essex was enjoying himself in an Aero 7 but lost out on handicap to the usual crew. Chris Shelton won both fast singlehanders. Jeremy Daniells won the first slow race but retired for his Sunday roast beating Phil Halldron who had been spun round by a fluke gust. Ben Hills won the 2nd race from Ryan Winter and Jerry King capsized twice. Ed and Sarah were very proud of themselves for winning the first doublehander race but were spitting feathers in the next last behind Richard and Martyn in the 400.

My spy in the sky was Joseph on Bluebird with Richard Winter who reported one seal, a shoal of mackerel and masses of chicken pieces, heads and feet especially drifting past, and all of which seemed to appear from Ed and Sarah’s direction, most strange……..

The Contender and Phantom open meeting at the weekend was a mixed bag in the end. Twenty five boats took part and with juicy winds all week everyone was expecting the same. Of course come Saturday the wind had completely dropped and, not only that, vicious rain and hail squalls, combined with one thunderstorm, didn’t exactly help.

The rescue boats had the worst job being totally exposed. The committee boat (Eric’s) at least had a galley where one could escape, but not Eric’s entertainments with old Deal sea shanties and stories to keep up the morale. The sailors had come to shore from all this to tank up on sausage rolls etc, and some did not go out for the last aborted effort.

I recognised most of the visitors from last year: the Contender chaps (no women) were a bunch of characters - one sailor always had a fag in his mouth on launching and even had a built in ashtray on his boat ! Some, including the current world champion Simon Mussell, were giants but others seemed not big enough for an opie. I had to look twice as there were two Nigel Cureton look alikes with exactly the same looking boats - which was scary. The Phantom boys (no girls) were a quieter bunch except one shouty man who refused to come in at one point and continued the arguments on shore with John Cass.

Sunday didn’t start with much promise, but by late morning a wind started and as the fleet moved to Walmer Castle, it became a sailing joy. Testing winds, frothy sea, sun and as Simon Mussell said afterwards ; ‘ his best sail of the year!’. All 3 races were completed, and the mackerel were biting for the hedonistic set who went out first thing in the ‘green thing’.

When l arrived at least 3 Contenders were over and Simon Mussell entertained the fleet at the start of the last race with what l believe is called a ‘Port tack death roll’- not a disease one might get at Christmas but cutting across the whole fleet and causing them all to tack. Getting them in was frantic fun and l can say the water was delicious and l honestly felt like a young sealion (mid- life crisis there). When the storm drain on Saturday was doing its putrid act it wasn’t so nice- the rain water was freezing.

Stuart was on good form for the prize giving (Ipswich won their opening match of the season with their new centre forward costing £3000 from Deal F.C getting the winner.] The sailors with palmed down hair and drinks in hand were then entertained with the two cadet members from Scotland with bagpipes and snare drum. Only one Phantom sailor took offense on hearing the Stewart battle song as he was Mc’Cloud clan member. Then everyone drifted away. As for the results well it didn’t make for pretty reading for Downs, with Tony Cook 8th out of 14 in the Contenders and Chris Shelton 5th out of 11 in the Phantoms- other club members were way down. Simon Mussell from Highcliff sailing club won the Contenders but was pushed hard by Ed Presley from Cotswold who got 3 second places. Nick Orman from Castle Cove won the Phantoms from James Dawson RYA.

In other news Simon Cory is back from Cowes week and got his best ever result with a 2nd in the class 6 yachts, and Catherine Westbrook has been selected for the Olympic blind England team - see the noticeboard for the article from the press.

The Grafham water NSSA event was an exciting challenge for all concerned with constant weather changes and some very strong winds.

For those who haven’t been there and l seem to be the only person on the planet who hasn’t, it is more open than Rutland deeper and appears larger , one end is very wooded. The clubhouse is on the scale of Terminal 5 Heathrow and there are simply thousands of boats, the youngsters adding 300 more for the week.

There was a Topper fleet of course, Laser 4.7, Radials, Rookie, slow, medium and fast. The craft ranged from Optimists and Bics to giant catermarans with a 40ft carbon mast. Infact the young pair who whizzed around on that beast strolled around on shore in the latest must have gothic looking dry cloak. Sailors ranged from giants with beards to tiny ones who would disappear in the long grass. But all of them had one thing in common they all looked and acted the part. The Kent team were 15 minutes from the site on a deluxe campsite with lush grass and people only spoke in whispers. They also had the only well stocked shop for 50 sq miles. There were rumours of a Tesco somewhere but no one ever found it.

As Joseph insists on a T.V set we were stayed in a converted stable block near the charmingly named village of Swineshead. We spent most of our free time swotting swarms of flies and dodging mobile speed trap cameras that were intent on trying to catch the ‘Chelsea tractors’ that seemed to tear along the immaculate roads. The attached farmhouse had a blue plaque announcing that Edward the VIII had stayed the night having been thrown from a horse in 1927, probably spooked by a BMW X5.

The Monday and the Friday had such fierce winds it was doubtful they would all go out, on one day the fleet was called in with the dangers of a fierce rainstorm. In the end not one race of the 12 was cancelled but some of the lighter boats had plenty of capsizes, the last race of the week a Kent 29er went over 10 times.

The Kent boat plot was furthest from the clubhouse and was the most sheltered against a bank of poplar trees and with our own launch slipway . Of course day 1 saw me fall off in waders and had to be helped ashore soaked. The usual format was two races before lunch and one after, the only problem was Monday when the Northerly wind made it so cold all the sailors in shorties had chattering teeth and were dreading going back out. Alarming signs everywhere announced the dangers of the ‘Killer shrimp’ with fireside stories in the evenings of people being dragged off their boats and even fibreglass being eaten. Whether anyone ever saw any of these creatures is not clear.

As for all the results l haven’t a clue, but it is rumoured that the Kent team won yet again. It’s a bit like Ireland winning the Eurovision song contest every year a while back and beginning to pray they wouldn’t.

At least it wore all the kids out, I overheard one mother from another team say to her daughter “you can see your friends in a weeks time when you’ve recovered”. More Intense parenting involved one 3ft boy being lambasted by an irate father with a wagging finger “4th is not good enough!” As for our low expectations of Joseph l can say he did rather well until the last day when he was a lap short of the other Lasers and got rammed on the start line by a 420 for race 2 and was thrown from the boat, after that he didn’t seem to move. On returning home and expecting for any damage it would seem the whole of one side of the deck has separated from the hull, that’s what you get for having a retro boat, it was also full of water, and as we tipped the boat up I swear something hideous crawled into the drain…… a killer shrimp!

It has been a packed programme of events , starting with Tuesday night 10 that had the usual sinister weather of torrential rain. Simon Herrington won the slow and Simon Green was the only fast boat and, for the dimmer readers, yes, he did win the fast handicap.

Thursday was a disappointing wind but everyone just managed 2 laps in only 17 degrees, In fact, being 47.3 in Spain, l got quite chilled. Simon and Denise won the slow with Phil Halldron 2nd, Chris Stubbs and Steve Restall won the fast. There were new members out there Neil Gibson and Keith Macey in an RS800- instead of in, l should have said their toes were on.

Ian Sheppard took Catherine Westbrook out in the dreaded Inter 14 and seemed to enjoy themselves. Friday club included the infamous ‘Ladies race’ with the trophy inaugurated in 1963 and a race that has suffered in recent years with cancellations. How things have changed with probably women not allowed in the clubhouse, stilettos and beehive hairdos were order of the day and they probably smoked all the way round in the 60’s.

Tara Head won in her soon to be sold Byte CII. ItThere were some doublehanders out there as well, so things are looking brighter for the race future.

Saturday was Sarah’s charity walk to raise awareness of colon cancer. Everyone seemed to sport the regulation red trousers in various shades, Simon Cory was wearing plum, and nearly a £1000 was raised in entry fees alone with nearly 100 participants. It soon became clear that it was a race meeting with fast handicap clusters and slow handicap groups, but with a single start. Simon Herrington and Phil Halldron racing each other down to the Walmer mark and tearing off down towards Sandown castle forcing the public to jump out the way. Some people got lost, one person ended up at Dover castle, someone got stung by a horse fly and I spent most of the time tripping over various dog leads. One member of the public did actually say was it for ‘colon cancer in dogs ?’. Richard White really got into the swing of things in a Bing Crosby hat and tackled the pubs on route, after 20 of these he was pretty sloshed. Conversations swung from Brexit, the price of various things to Clint Eastwood snuffing it, which turned out to be totally false. For those who had lost weight there was the chance to put it back on with lashings of tea and cakes at the clubhouse and thankfully nobody was involved in an acid attack.

Sunday was a big moment for Sarah taking to the water with Ed in a 2000. It didn’t start well as nobody knew how to rig the damn thing. They actually won one race and were 2nd in another and even had time to hurl abuse at Tim and John in the other 2000 who were last. The wind was very fickle picking up and then dropping to zero, Nigel Cureton managed a race win in Tony Cook’s Phantom even beating Chris Shelton ! The slow juggled between the usual suspects Rob Freeland was the biggest loser after getting becalmed, there was a new member out there a M. Essex in yet another Aero. Phil Halldron managed, with great emotional effort, to drift past Simon Herrington in the last 10 yards after losing the charity walk race . It all starts again Tuesday.

Tuesday points 9 on American Independence day had 16 boats and some unusual pairings. There were Buzz Boys duo of Chris Shelton and Dave Webb in a 400, Chris Stubbs and Judy Restall in a 200 and Julia Judd and Evie Herrington also in a 200.

Thursday had some very keen types lugging their boats to the foreshore and some came skipping out of the changing rooms like spring lambs, mainly Phil Peach, whilst 95% were kicking their heels knowing the wind was never going to kick in… and it didn’t. Saturday was another hot day at Redoubt sailing club Hythe for the youngsters with decent winds in the afternoon. It was a special day for the club as it was their 50th anniversary.

Sunday promised much especially given the recent excellent Sundays. Sixteen boats took to the water all keen for the infamous ‘Queen Mother Cup’ race and that illusive chance to catch a glimpse of a white glove being waved from the battlements of Walmer castle….. by some body of note. The forecast was an Easerly but switched to SE and, as the brave band headed off down the channel against a hideous tide, the wind immediately dropped. That was just the start of the trouble with the hot sun, a scattered slow fleet who had taken different lines and most never reaching the Walmer mark. The only entertainment seemed to be large shoals of mackerel breaking the surface but always out of reach. Most might have died of thirst other than the tide did get them back quite quickly- the sailors not the mackerel. The points race was cancelled.

The 400s had a jolly time racing back with spinnakers out and infact it got very exciting as John and Julia closed within feet of Richard White and Rick Clemence. There was total panic on the lead boat as any unwanted items were thrown overboard to save weight “ you could smell their acrid breath as they closed in” said Rick afterwards , but they did hold on. Eric and Catherine were 3rd in the Hornet. The Royal Marines concert was about to take place as the Spitfire and Hurricane tore overhead but were joined by a mystery aircraft and they all disappeared…… a bit like the wind.

We did turn up for a rare foray on Tuesday evening but were beaten back by the driving rain. Tony Cook had his first win of the year and in his new Phantom, Simon Herrington won the slow.

Thursday had a recent record of 20 boats in near perfect conditions and for beach types there was a marvellous pollution free view of France and even houses. Jo Thomson was being coached on the water from Grey Lady by the club coach and the combination was enough to overhaul Rosie. Of course the RYA have been informed and are investigating this result. The arguments continued as Jo cycled home and she shouted back “I don’t care !” and made a gesture as to where her bike pump might end up.

Roger was out for probably the first time this year and seemed a little timid complaining that the wind had picked up yet others said the opposite. Simon and Denise won the slow from Jerry King and Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs won the fast in the 400. Ian Shepperd was out on his own in the dreaded B14 and is fearful of the day he has to use the spinnaker. This probably goes for everyone else and currently a visit from the mice would be useful. Contrast this with his steely performance on Sunday in a club Laser finishing 2nd behind Ben hills who himself had two strange capsizes. The first involved the centre-main rope wrapping around each wrist and he could only free himself with his teeth as a knife would have been useless. The next his rudder fell off coming into land and l had to swim to retrieve him, by which time he was a broken man. Infact it would seem that everyone capsized at some point, Jerry King 3 times in one race, Rosie in between races, where Tony Cook claims the air was blue ! it would be his turn later when someone stole his hot-dog. In fact, on the water, he was so shocked, he duly disappeared under his own hull and failed to get a result. Rob Freeland was going over and over and it was getting quite dizzy watching from the shore. Jo Thomson was a humble ‘Tigger’ after Thursday and had lost her bounce, she capsized loads of times and hit her head 3 times, but of course there were plenty of lapdog types to get her in.

Simon and Denise won the doublehanders from John and Julia who suffered a twisted spinnaker in the first race. Rob probably won the slow if he was actually in the boat and Simon Green won the fast singlehanders. As l left the club Sarah Styles and myself were steering a lost baby mouse towards the B14 and as l shut the gate the arguments were just dying down over Tony’s hot-dog which, I confess, was very tasty !

The evening sails are providing some nice winds , Tuesday 20th was particularly feisty with large waves. Peter Freeland won in the slow, Julia Judd and a‘ Timothy’ were 2nd in a 200. John and Julia won their first race of the year, as Richard White’s Phantom capsized.

Thursday saw 14 boats of 9 classes and a rare finish where Phil Peach and Jerry King were pronounced joint 2nd. The dulcet tones of Angus Bradley’s accent were heard on the beach for the first time this year and Steve and Chris won the fast in the 400. Bluebird came in at a crazy angle with the waves and demolished the sledge, and Eric managed to re-arrange his teeth after he nearly swallowed the Hornet centreboard. There was a hideous photo doing the rounds of his swollen lips and there were nearly 4000,000 hits worldwide.

Sunday 25th was a delightful day and not too hot for a change. It would seem there were only 3 fast boats, Simon Green, Nigel Cureton and the International 14 which retired soon after race 1. You would have expected me to have done some research and l have…….. this craft was first designed in 1913, would you believe, and a new carbon model will set you back £20,000 from Ovington !

After some horrible landings you will be glad to know that this one is not a new one.

There was the return of Joe Lord from his ‘A’level exile and his Radial was giving Ben Hills laser a run for his money for two laps to get the win. However there was computer glitch and Alex Head’s Topper definitely won the 2nd race and close in race 1, but all the Lasers were wrongly entered as full sheets. Alex now 14, tours the country in his Topper and has been too busy to race much at the club. This is just as well for the rest of the slow fleet. Joe Lord got over excited after getting some early exam results and over cooked a mark after a fierce battle with Jerry King and was never the same after the capsize.

Jo Thomson had left Rosie for dead at the back of the fleet in battle of the ‘ femme fatales’, however a complicated tack system and a tide change gave Rosie’s 36 years of sailing experience the upper hand. Jo finished last but was soon cheered by the sight of her daughter Sophie on the beach. She had the most perfect teeth l have ever seen, Eric take note please. Simon and Denise won the doublehanders but at one point the 200’s were split by the 2000 of Tim and John who seemed to be going very well but still finished last.

The evening sailing in the last 2 weeks has been steady in boat numbers, with an average of 9 slow and 4-5 fast on either night. Club habit watchers will note that in recent years the Tuesday has been the more popular. As for numbers my theory is that as global warming dries all the lakes and the sea really is the coolest place to be in a heatwave numbers will rise, especially on Sundays.

The most exciting evening was Thursday 15th with a gusty wind and large waves and plenty of surfing down wind. After crashing into Rosie launching, Phil Peach led the singlehanders till the last 20ft before Jerry King ‘the man with the exotic boatcover’ pipped him. Of course this was all academic as the actual winners of the slow were Simon and Denise followed by Chris and Max in the Lark.

Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs were given a run for their money for two laps by John and Julia, but there was a large gap after lap 5.

After all this excitement a mouse stood in the club entrance and stared at me, nose twitching. He somehow knew l wasn’t a sailor and somehow we bonded for that split second.

Sunday 18th was the heatwave race and luckily the wind didn’t drop otherwise everyone would have cooked.The day had started early for me at 6.30a.m at Tilmanstone Bootfayre, where l purchased a pair of wetsuit boots from a chap claiming that they were Ben Ainslee’s spare pair whilst he had been at uni with him. They are signed inside, and if the chap was a confidence trickster was it all worth the effort for £4. More research will be needed but watch this space! Incidentally they would have gone down in value since he lost the Americas cup.

Ian Sheppard was out in his ‘Rasta’ painted International 14, which l am informed is a double hander, but this doesn’t seem to bother him. Rosie beat all the other Streakers which is strange because she was miles behind them in both races. There were the usual excuses when she thought she had been last, this time knee protectors had come off and velcrosed her to the toestrap. This changed to utter joy and then hopes were dashed…. the truth being it was that naughty old computer again.

Paul Harris was out in his Aero 7 for the first time this year, but the naked gossip in the changing rooms is he is going to build one from scratch. The real challenge it would seem is to use medieval tools and even select certain trees. Phil Halldron the font of all Streaker knowledge thought it was easier to start with a fibreglass kit and would you believe the company he recommended resides next to Jeff Thompson’s parents, Jeff pointed out. And no he isn’t going to lift up a fence panel and grab pieces whilst pretending to do the gardening. One thinks of the bloke who bought his Streaker at a bootfayre for £50, a member, a few years ago, and won most races and after my boot purchase why not? It might be that a cross Rob Freeland, who thought the second race was too long won the slow and Richard and Rick won the fast in a 400.

Spare a thought for Mr. O’Neill who died last week aged 89. The Californian Surfer who invented the surfboard and the wetsuit and lived in Cornwall. Now all the youngsters who have the logos everywhere will appreciate them more.

Going back to May 29th and the Fred Herbert Trophy race on the bank holiday…. In over 3 hours of racing, 3 hours less than the Aero ,Topper, Streaker Open, it was a win for the newly returned Simon Cory and Denise Judd in the 200. Simon Green was 2nd and a rare visit by Toby Freeland in an even rarer Aero 9 was 3rd. Toby is soon jetting off to the world of exotic yachts and I’m sure he said the Isle of Sheppey. There were 16 boats of 9 classes and it was good to see Peter Hyett out there in a Radial, proving he’s not just a ‘Burger flipper’ at the barbecue, ..mind you he did come last.

Tuesday points 4 and there was a win for Phil Halldron in the slow and Simon Green in the fast.

Thursday points 4 was a bizarre weather situation with a cheeky wind inshore and totally flat just beyond the race, which would normally be the other way round. Simon Green and Tony Cook seem close rivals at the moment, but it was a win for Martyn Styles and Richard White in the 400. Simon and Denise are making up for lost time and Chris and Max Shelton were 2nd in the Lark. Rosie Lord nearly caught Jerry King on the line and he had the look of a haunted animal when he reached the shore.

Sunday at last was one of those dream days, puffy white clouds, sun, not too hot, increasing winds, warm water a high tide and baked potatoes in the oven. It was constant activity on the beach with retirements , re-launches, 2nd racers and then Tony Cook broke the webbing strap on the Eric’s ex Phantom. Up till that point he was giving Chris Shelton a run for his money and seemed to be ahead from the shore. Chris denied this of course and said that my binoculars were faulty.

Race 2 and the westerly really kicked in and boats started to go over. Rosie had pulled up to 3rd when ‘a once in a life time gust hit me’ she later lamented. I don’t know how many times she went round in a circle, and it is strange that everyone around her carried on as normal. However the writing on the wall was clawing into the fleet, Stewart Bradbeer went over 3 times, Jo Thomson went over gracefully, Rob Freeland was just a tangle of cheap carbon and flesh at one point, and Simon and Denise who were ‘high fiving’ a possible victory forgot to man the boat and they were flung overboard, cadets take note. The larger boats seemed immune from all this and everyone enjoyed a spiffing day.

P.S…… Ed said after having his sailing photo published in the Mercury he’s available for weddings, pets etc. at cost. PPS l have no results at the moment but on a day like that it doesn’t really matter.

The Topper/Aero 7/ Streaker Open had some good stats if not good conditions after the wind dropped off after race 1. Twenty one different clubs were involved from as far as Dorset, there were 22 Toppers , 10 Aeros and 9 streakers. Top Aero was Tim Hire from the Royal Lymington club, Scott Wilkinson from Rye Harbour won the Toppers and Doug Horner from Swanage won the Streakers. Downs did not figure too highly but the calm conditions did favour Martyn Wyman who got the best result with a 2nd in the Streakers. Boats were on the water for 5 hours, but everyone seemed in good cheer. The most bizarre incident of the day was the Southern Water digger covering half the beach in a 10ft plume of hydraulic fluid without realising it.

The mysterious Tuesday night that seems far more popular than the Sundays at the moment, saw Jerry King yet again take advantage with the lack of Lasers to win the slow. Adam Page was 2nd, yet he seems to be in a 2000 more lately. The fast race was won by Simon Green in the Finn , Richard White was 2nd in a Phantom.

Thursday points 3 was another power drift and 9 of the 13 starters in the slow did not get a finish. Luckily only the Toppers had to be towed back to the beach. Phil Peach managed a 3rd after Ben Hills missed a mark. Simon and Denise were first in the 200 and Chris and Max were 2nd in the Lark. I had left the club for half an hour and on return Jo Thomson and Rosie hadn’t even crossed the start line. First boat back to shore and after only one lap were winners of the fast Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs. Simon Green was the only fast boat not to finish and was disgusted with himself.

Saturday saw the classic car rally take over the green and a re-scheduled power boat course take place led by Chris Danican in a howling wind. Of course come Sunday this had yet dropped away to zero for Sunday points 2. At one point l was the only person on the beach in a sticky heat, everything was just a heat shimmer. Ken Davis, barely able to speak, whispered “l feel like a boil in a bag chicken” as I cradled his head, desperately trying to get water down his throat after he landed. Everyone returned to shore refusing to go out for the next race. Phil Halldron was top singlehander and Simon and Denise were top doublehander. Three boats were out of time, including a vicious battle between Rosie and the 2000 of Dave Spicer and Chris Danican.

Just in case you might have thought that some sailors have been obvious by their absence of late and have been class swopping, spouse swopping, selling boats, suffering with work commitments, or cursing the conditions and storming off, you will be pleasantly surprised to know the following : Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs were 5th in the Gold fleet sprint Championships and 3rd in the Porchester open meeting in the 400. Chris Shelton a rare beast locally has been in Phantom open meetings at Shoreham and Burghfield. Julia Judd has been in the Etchells Europeans at Cowes (apparently it’s not a skin condition but a 30ft four person keelboat that attracts some of the top world sailors ). She has also been at RS800 open meetings at Rutland and Stokes Bay which is incredible. Simon Green was race winner at Mengeham Rhtye SC (part of Chichester harbour) in the Finn.

Tony Cook has been in 3 Contender open meetings, Broadstairs, Loodsteecht Holland and Oxford city centre, a tricky dry land event on a roundabout (better ask Tony on that one). Phil Halldron has been to Bough Beech and back in his Streaker (towing) along with Simon and Denise in the RS200 and with Hannah Mumford and Tara Head. Alex Head has been round half of Britain in various Topper events.

Nearer to home as Dave Spicer said “it’s just good to get out there”, and thankfully the headless corpse wrapped around the pier was not a late finisher from the Aero/Topper/Streaker open.

Casting one’s mind back Tuesday points the 9th May. There was a visit from Heike who went out in a Radial, Neale Farr was back in the old Laser in winning ways and the unusual sight of Nathan Brazil giving Neale a run for his money. Eric and Katharine were deciding to stay upright in the Hornet for a fast win and Tony Cook was out in a Phantom (purchased from Eric). Apparently the Contender is now perfect for bedding plants, the sort of thing you see on the occasional roundabout.

We arrived rather late on Thursday 11th and probably just as well, for everyone rigged and ready to go the wind dropped and the rain started. Some hit the water just in sheer spite but really it was homeward bound.

Sunday 14th was big long sunny day with 6 retirements in the first race before the wind decided to drop. Race 2 the rescue boat was begging Rosie to quit, but she refused and so it went on with Evie Herrington miles from shore in her Topper with the same determination of her father. Sunday points 1 was won by Rob Freeland’s Aero in the slow and Probably John and Julia in the fast. But Simon Green seems to be in an ‘inter-face zone’ at the moment between the two handicaps and he could have won, which isn’t much help especially as the results for summer points 1 went missing. Tuesday 16th was the first trip out for Roger, Simon Green was in a Phantom after breaking the tiller arm on his Finn..”the ropes are like spaghetti and most of them are just for show” he huffed. Bluebird landed on the sledge the wrong way round, there were some hideous sounds “I thought the blue rubber stuff had burst” said a terrified Rosie onboard. I had visions of just the orange part left, but on a professional inspection I thought it was fine. Simon beat fellow rookie Tony in the end and Jerry King who is as keen as mustard at the moment took the slow in his laser. Jo Thomson was also out in a full sheet.

I cannot believe that people went out on the Thursday 18th in the torrential rain, but 8 brave souls did. This included Phil Peach who was also soaked from the previous Thursday. Chris and Max were back in the Lark and the black beast of Mark and Clinton Styles was on the first trip of the year. Simon Green decided to join the fast race and won and Phil Halldron won the

At last after 3 cancelled race days hulls finally got wet on Sunday in a cold overcast Northerly for spring points 13 and 14. The first Friday club had also just been cancelled but the ‘Ow does it work Guv’ tour went ahead with Dave Webb.

Although the wind dropped some what, it left quite a swell making for a tricky launch and landing, but there were no capsizes for the 17 boats of 12 classes.

What can l say , other than the boats went round and round in circles and that Ian and myself were never dry or warm tending to the various incidents. This included being on standby to retrieve a piece of Deal pier towed in by ‘Bluebird’ which resembled a shark fin following the boat, but it was impossible to land and was set adrift to sink a tanker or two.

Thinking l was mad under dressed, there were 15 people based in one of the beach huts who entered the water in skimpy swimsuits. They seemed to be part of a ‘Titanic’ re-enactment group as no swimming seemed to be involved and they bobbed around looking to be rescued.

Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs seem to have led both races from start to finish, but I thought that Hannah Mumford and Tara Head seemed to be moving well in the 200 and they managed a 2nd and a 3rd. Simon Cory and Denise would have given them a run for their money of course and their enthusiasm has been missed as apparently Simon continues to change the colour of his house.

Of course there were the usual antics involving Rosie, missed starts, tangled ropes, incidents around marks with Jerry King etc. Ed with a glint in his eye and the whiff of a protest, whose only excitement up to this point had been the confusion around paying for a cheese toastie, led Rosie in for some sort of showdown. He was disappointed of course as everyone was laughing into their tomato soup and the conclusion was that it was another case of ‘Rosie’s law’ where she is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

After people had finished admiring Chris Danican’s latest ‘Weird Fish’ jumper and pointed out the curry stains on mine it was time to leave.

Don’t forget folks the evening sails start this week the 9th May and as Nigel Cureton said on the way out ‘God it was grim, but at least we were on the water !’

The ‘Easter Egg Marquis Medallion Race’ seems by tradition to have a low turnout, and only five boats responded to the call on the bank holiday Monday. The wind was a little fresh for many perhaps and given that most are feeling sick with all the chocolate, it was left to Toby Freeland in the family Aero to take the win with Simon Green second. What we need is and anti- education programme to stop the youngsters going to university.

Saturday 22nd April and 30 boats took to the water at Minnis Bay for the latest KSSA meet. A place l have passed a thousand times by bike suddenly became home for the day. The tiny hut on the prom l had assumed was a coastguard hut but was race control, the clubhouse a low building hidden in the boat compound. The clubhouse itself was a delightful oasis with a large sun terrace, large dining area and kitchen and a cosy looking bar with shady corners and high backed padded seats- the sort of place one could spend a whole evening. Contrast all this to the latest soulless creation the ‘Minnis’ restaurant pub on the seafront which would seem more at home at an airport. With no shelter from East West winds, the terrace was a cold wind tunnel. The wind did seem to be East for most of the day then swung south but gave enough wind for the determined youngsters who raced till 5 o’clock.

There had been a protracted tasty lunch in between, with homemade cakes stacked in every corner with imaginative cream toppings . I ate several resembling a green cauliflower and could quite happily stayed all evening. It was a race meeting of course and this seemed to have two contested winners from the Broadstairs club in Lasers.

Sunday at Deal was a disaster for as we arrived the postponed flag (the one that looks like that French cartoon characters hat) hung limply from the bridge. There was chewing of the cud before it was all declared a non- starter. Of course by the time race officer Ben Hills and ourselves had got to the car a ripple had started and by the time we got to the cemetery at 10.45 a steady wind had set in. Rosie was spitting feathers and sulked for the rest of the day.

Easter Sunday promised much with sun, lively Westerlies with a chink of North and the excitement of all that chocolate. Ed was out in the old Buzz with Julia Judd amongst 14 boats for Race 1. Apparently Ben Hills had a nasty and rare capsize as several knots came undone including his outhaul. Eric and Katharine had 5 capsizes no less and Katharine went into incredible details afterwards, talking of whirlpools, freak waves and even a pilot whale, more like Cape Horn than Deal.

Toby Freeland was in the family Aero and was showing a clean pair of heels to Ben’s Laser, but eagle eyed me did spot some possible over tight rounding of marks and contact without 360s. Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs were having a slanging match with Chris Shelton, so busy was the banter and raspberries they lost the first race, but managed 3 wins out of 4 for race 2 with Chris 2nd and Ed and Julia 3rd.

Race 1 saw an incredulous Jeremy Daniels win in his Streaker with Rob Freeland 2nd and Chris Shelton 3rd.

For all those types festooned in leaky drysuits l can tell you that my charity shop swimming trunks were in action for the first time this year for Rosie’s birthday and the water wasn’t too bad. The trouble is after 25 years l have no sensation in my lower limbs for most of the year now.

I was up close to the new rescue boat ‘Bluebird’ and was duly impressed with the colour which to be honest is more like a Blue Rockthrush blue but that wouldn’t sound as good. After all Vera Lynne was a hundred years young this year. Youngsters were testing craft on loan inshore including a Queba and a Hartley. The latter sounds more like a huggable children’s soft toy but does offer indestructible sailing with rig options, however weights could be issues.

The cup races on Monday are a mystery to me at the moment, but will be reported for all those types who were way laid with the usual relatives from hell.


The sailing weekend started for our family at the marvellous KSSA meet at Margate on Saturday. Despite the forecast of lack of wind, it turns out the youngsters had plenty of action and plenty of capsizes in the morning, west of the jetty and, the afternoon and a new launch site the other side of the harbour.

Margate was packed in the hot sun, like a scene from Oxford street, except most were in a state of undress, drinking heavily in the various bars and jungle music seemed to fill the air along with the smell of fried food in a carnival atmosphere. I suppose l might have expected a crowd of casual onlookers to be aware of the sailing action but it just seemed to blend into other action, which seemed to involve getting that first sunburn of the year.

Having passed the clubhouse since childhood in my home town I was intrigued to finally go in. The 18th century building oozed with character with dungeons, nooks and crannies, a lounge that seems to overhang the road, plenty of nostalgia on the walls including a portrait of the fiercest looking  Commodore who held the reins for 20 years from 1932.

There was a price to pay for all of this of course, my mother who insisted on attending, drank the bar dry and ate my pre-booked lunch.  Joseph managed to rip out a knee on his wetsuit, smashed two pulleys and fractured his mast hole on the Laser.

Back at base camp on Sunday the hot southerly got hotter for the 2nd race but this did not unseat Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs in the 400 for spring 5 and 6. Chris Shelton and Simon Green swapped places for 2nd and 3rd twice. This was in a field of seventeen boats and just 3 double-handers.

Points of interest included Ed on a Laser, the first outing for the Commodore in an Aero, Sam Taylor-Nobbs back in his Phantom , Jo Thomson in her radial on shore leave from the Goodwins.

The race computer was salvaged by Roger at the last minute before going into self- destruct mode .


A beautiful spring day greeted the 14 boats for spring points 3 &4 after the previous  week’s NE blowout. A gentle WNW gave the chance for people to test the ropes in relative comfort and there was brilliant sunshine.

Ten classes took part with even numbers of double and singlehanders, some new faces to conjure with, Finlay Anderson in a Radial, Evie Herrington in a Topper. Other faces ,absent for a while , appeared including  Jack Watts in the dreaded RS700 and Jeremy Daniels in a Streaker. The ultra- regular barnacle encrusted types probably haven’t stopped sailing all winter at various venues. This includes Simon Cory and Denise Judd in the 200 who won the first race from  Gadds fanatic Chris Shelton in the Phantom, and the stylish Simon Green  3rd in a Finn.

Chris Shelton managed 1st in Spring points 4, Simon 2nd , Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs 3rd in a 400. All this of course comes to me 3rd hand as l was in fact selling junk at Tilmanstone Boot Fayre, wishing I’d had my  sunglasses on such a glorious sunny day, at he dsame happy that I didn’t  have peg teeth, weigh 20 stone and eat hamburgers at 7 in the morning like most of my customers.  So at the moment no shower room secrets or back-biting gossip. My spy behind the canteen ,Streaker wizard Rosie, did glean a few insights however .

 Ben Hills’s mother has become his live-in personal coach, complaining he wouldn’t get out of bed, had egg yolk on his chin and was disgusted at his result in the first race but she resolved this for the 2nd. Ed has completely gone off sausages and his snoring has got worse . Roger was complaining about not being used to sea level after skiing in slush in high mountains of Europe, so it might be a while before his delicate toes tread salty water.  

The Aeros had much coverage on the cover of the new race programme yet failed to turn up. In fact, there were no weird and wonderful craft seen purchased from the latest dingy show, on the old cashed in pensions…. Unless they haven’t been delivered yet.

Oh and the computer had a meltdown again which left Jeremy and Jo Thomson in a state of turmoil. Yes, Jo was in the Mercury the other week twice, once at number 10 and once shaking an M.P.’s hand.. and then, as l was nodding off the other night, she was staring at me on SE News sounding very technical and legal, what about ,l don’t know.

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