Autumn 2004


Commodore’s Bit
AGM & Prize Giving
Annual Dinner
Athens Olympics
Back-tracking History
Bewl Visit
Bodgett Bodges On
Dinghy Show
For Sale
Italian Evening
Maritime Greenwich
Mid Thames Trophy
Sailing Sec’s Report
Simple Things
Social Calendar
Summer Serenade
Working Party

Bewl - August Bank Holiday

It was one of those rare events - a Bank Holiday Monday when the weather was set fair and the prospect was for a fine day's sailing at Bewl water. On setting off from Surbiton at 8.30 am I had steeled myself for an hour or so of dodgems on the M25 - but no! - the heavy goods vehicle drivers were apparently having a day off too and traffic was comparatively light. Passing Clackett Lane services in good time I even contemplated stopping for breakfast, before recalling that this was the place that the Sunday Times rated as having the worst food of all European motorway service areas! Turning south, past Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, the Weald of Kent was looking great in the morning sunshine and I pressed on through Lamberhurst, arriving at Bewl only 70 mins after leaving home.

Bewl is a big club - you approach it through what seems like acres of boat parks - but just like Aquarius it appears that the majority of boats don't see the water very often and the local flora and fauna have established a close relationship with them.

The Club shares a reservoir with oarsmen, windsurfers and fishermen (sound familiar?) - but in contrast to the Thames, there really is enough space for all - over 900 acres apparently and the setting is amazingly scenic. There is a well manicured public picnic site and boat launching ramps with nature reserve and nature trails which can be used at any time for a fee. However, as guests of Bewl S C for the day we get all the facilities free! For non sailing partners there are some interesting National Trust properties in the vicinity - Scotney Castle for example is within walking distance. Shame then that only Richard Cannon, Liz Archer and I had ventured forth.

Arriving at the waterside I found myself surrounded by some pretty expensive looking boats that would not have been out of place at a boat show. The number of apparently new lasers was particularly impressive- my battered 30 year old model was looking decidedly incongruous. I was beginning to feel like a fellow who had turned up at a smart party without the obligatory jacket and tie! No matter! a chap in a fluorescent yellow flak jacket with a label on the back announcing that he was "harbourmaster" welcomed me like an old friend. He helped me unhitch and directed me to the "office" to sign in. Here a friendly and amazingly efficient lady by the name of Audrey took my details and, declining my offer of an entry fee ("Aquarius are old friends of ours"), entered them into a computer system that must be the envy of Richard C! Not for them a faithful Psion! Race management at Bewl has at least 3 desktop pcs available in the office, further networked for all I know, to a couple of lap tops in the race box. This system enables the results of racing to be available almost as soon as you come off the water. Very impressive! - however it is still dependent on the fallibilities of the race officers - of which more below.

I had time to get on the water and get the measure of the wind before the first race. It was blowing a fairly steady 3-4 and it was good to sit out and get the boat sailing.

Why can’t I sail as close to the wind as that guy? - can’t just be my baggy G cup bra of a sail, and why is there so much weatherhelm? P'raps I need to get my weight forward/backward /sideways/ tighten the downhaul/ put the bung in/go for a drink etc etc. You have time and space to look into these things at Bewl. Conversely little things that are tolerable at Aquarius make a big difference in the open water and long tacks at Bewl.

There were two races before lunch and two scheduled for after, all billed as "short" races (i.e. approx 40 mins) round a trapezoidal course. The first leg involved a beat to windward. The locals and the good sailors (i.e Richard) went for the shore side of the starting line. Others (including me) opted to keep offshore where it was less crowded and then realised their disadvantage in not being able to make the first mark in a single tack. Nonetheless I was up with the Laser pack at the first mark when a guy luffed me into irons as he tried to round the mark, got into irons himself and by the time we had both sorted ourselves out the rest of the fleet were way downwind. Richard however had a good race.

For the next two races Richard and I seemed to be in remarkably close company - which is ridiculous considering the difference in handicaps between a Laser and Signet but nice for engendering camaraderie between fellow club members! On one leg on a beam reach I got the laser planning and came storming past ST368 with Liz telling me that I should not be going so fast at my age! However the adrenalin rush had locked my jaw into a wide eyed grin and I was unable to speak - even if I'd had a sensible reply!

By the end of three races I was exhausted but exhilarated and with the threat of apparently stronger winds for the 4th race decided to retire. Richard and Liz continued however - they were enjoying it too much and even went out free sailing after the last race

Richard and Liz won the one ton cup - for the best performing boat with a crew whose combined ages exceed 100! The provisional results put Richard and Liz only second, and 3rd overall, until the winners confessed that the early onset of dementia meant that they couldn't add up correctly and they were ineligible (everyone present was too polite to query Liz's age but apparently Richard was accepted as being sufficiently elderly in his own right!). The ton trophy was awarded to me - also 3rd overall. This was a farce and must have been a mistake - perhaps too many boats with similar sail numbers? Richard pursued it on my behalf, but the organisers were adamant that they were correct. I am left to conclude that notwithstanding all the IT, Bewl's race management is fallible after all. But their hospitality is second to none!

Nigel (aka Bodgit jnr) Knowles