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Downs Sailing Club

This years reports
(Past years reports)

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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