Sailing Days Notes - Graham Thompson



Date


Notes


05/11/17

At 6am the Met Office 7 day weather forecast for Heathrow showed an improved outlook for the day, namely winds from WNW, changing to NW in the early afternoon, averaging 12 mph throughout with gusts to 21mph, and partially overcast skies offering <5% chance of rain at any time. This suggested a choice between lighter boats (Laser/Graduate) and the heavier Bosuns and in the event there were 5 Bosuns on the water. Richard Cannon set a course up stream to a port, downstream to a Surrey side port Middlesex side starboard dogleg roughly parallel with the outlet, followed by a bottom end starboard and a beat back to the finish line. For the fun series three one lap sprints were run using the first and second marks and start times for the second and third races were reduced to 2 minutes at the request of the participants. Other water users constrained starts, with a group of approximately 5 single sculls gathered prettily around the first mark as the 1 minute buzzer approached for one of the races. The choice of Bosuns proved correct, as the sole light boat, Josh on his Laser, engaged in a number of capsizes and near capsizes which restricted him to pipping the lead Bosun at the finish line but losing on the BH difference. PH differences took their usual toll. Gordon Courtney was enticed onto the water as a crew for Rodger Wheeler in four races. The last race was subject to lighter winds as the sunset approached, a suitable condition for the end of season race.


29/10/17

The weather report was for winds from the north averaging 13 mph with gusts up to 20 mph, though the turbulence of winds coming directly over the north bank was likely to dissipate the power of any gusts. In the event there was much more easterly in the wind, to the extent that boats beating downwind to the first mark had to tack away from the Surrey bank several times before reaching this bottom mark. The course then had a startboard port dogleg (opposite Pat's and then near just above the outlet) and a further 'run' to a starboard top mark. The two races in the morning saw fairly strong gusts along the Surrey side of the river, such that the single handed Grad struggled, the Bosun was better suited, provided it could find the wind, and the Lasers had a few interesting moments. In the afternoon the wind abated somewhat and by the time of the last race, which, the clocks having been put back one hour, was run immediately after the fun race, progress was slow. The Fun race involved picking up tokens (straightened metal clothes hangers) from three of the four marks without hitting the mark and boat handicap and personal handicap results were identical and based on the number of tokens taken by each boat. This left the two members who calculate results scratching their heads as to how to achieve this in their respective systems, both of which are designed to calculate boat and boat+personal handicap adjusted average lap times.


22/10/17

The previous day saw very high winds in the South East, being the butt end of a hurricane. This continued into Sunday, with strong winds from the west coming down river with little variation in direction but strong gusts. The course set was an upstream beat to a port near the ramp, then a long run to a port level with the car park, followed by a port then starboard dogleg on the way back to the start line. The first race was between two fully reefed Bosuns. The helm who sailed single handed kept his centre plate partly up, but this made it difficult to tack through the wind and he was repeatedly forced into chicken tacks - jibes - to come about. The double handed boat was under much better control and drew well ahead. In the second race the double handed boat's crew had left; he was replaced by the helm of the single hander, and safe progress was made against a reefed Laser, which capsized on the first run and blew down river. After lunch TFC consisted of free sailing and the club's Bosun was cruised at this time. The final race saw three fully manned Bosuns comfortably racing in winds which had abated somewhat and gave great demanding sailing; the Laser had another 1.5 capsizes.


21/10/17

The Mid-Thames Inter Club Trophy Regatta at Hampton SC was cancelled due to the 40-50 mph winds forecast. The right decision because there were some very strong gusts.


15/10/17

The forecast was for 11 to 13 mph SW winds with gusts to 20 mph, a 10% chance of rain in the morning, with some sunshine in the afternoon. Given the turbulence induced by trees, this was still ok for single handed Grads. The course was upstream to a starboard nearer the Middlesex bank, downstream to a port just upstream from Eric's house, followed by a starboard near the car park and a difficult beat to a final starboard some 20 meters below the port. The wind proved very variable in direction, switching quickly between SW and NW but with short lived S or SE at the lower end of the course. It was particularly difficult getting going after the fourth mark and in addition other river users conspired to make this perhaps the racing day requiring the most forced course changes in the season. The sole Bosun in the morning struggled and then suffered a breakage to the stainless steel horse on the transom. Mike Gatehouse was wearing very summery attire for mid October. Graham achieved his initial target of 100 races helmed or crewed in a season with 3 weekends to spare. Josh, the race officer, ran a very efficient 35 minute pursuit race for the 14:00 event (TFC 14) with a boats start time depending on its BH + PH (fastest boat/helm started last, 15 minutes after the first starter), the result of which indicated that the start times gave appropriate exposures to the challenges of the wind, in that the penultimate starter won while the last starter, starting 2 minutes later, suffered from lulls and could catch only the Bosun, which had started at time zero. In the Pursuit results the PH column is the Pursuit finish place and the BH column is the result using a boats race time after subtracting its start time.


08/10/17

The weather forecast indicated WNW to NW winds from 6 to 9 mph with gusts of 9 to 14 mph, a maximum rain risk of 10% with <5% after lunch. The forecast proved accurate and participants had consistent winds with no significant lulls or challenging gusts and no rain. The course set was upwind to two parallel ports just below the ramp, the first on the Middlesex side, then a run down to a dogleg consisting of a starboard near the car park and a port upstream and on the Surrey side, finally a starboard off Pat Halling's house. Lap times down to 9 minutes in the first race were reduced to just under 6 minutes after the upstream marks were pulled nearer to the start line for the TFC race at 2pm. This particular race saw two Bosuns each with a crew of three who changed helm, jib and main control at the end of each lap.


01/10/17

The weather forecast was for SSW winds averaging up to 15mph with gusts up to 25mph, overcast from the start of the day and with an increasing chance of rain, hitting 60% at 5pm to drench us as we put boats away. Given the general east west run of our reach turbulent wind conditions could be expected. At 9am the wind in the trees already suggested the selection of Bosuns for those hoping for a quiet life. A course with choices upriver and downriver was set, with the Surrey pair pulled in somewhat to tempt helms into the wind shadow. Upriver to the Middlesex buoy and the down to the Surrey buoy, both starboards, was the most popular course sailed. Two Bosuns were launched, by Cathy Bridger and Nigel Knowles, but Graham Thompson relied on the turbulence to depower gusts and selected his Graduate, a ploy which enabled him to lead on the water in the absence of Mike Baker (family diy duties) until Josh Watson-Evans joined in with his Laser and reduced this to BH leads. Alastair Gray launched his Skipper 14 with its 420 main and a red jib which several members thought too small. In the fun race Alastair handed the helm to Graham, who despite the boat sailing somewhat nose down, to the extent that only 1 foot of the rudder was in the water and the boat responded poorly to the helm, nearly lapped one of the Bosuns. The final race was a four boat SPA/uncontested Busun in which Cathy Bridger sealed her win of the Busun cup and Graham achieved first and last (BH,PH), a fate often experienced by the absent Mike Baker. The rain held off.


24/09/17

The weather forecast was for south east to south south east winds averaging up to 12mph and gusting to 18mph, sunny in the morning but turning overcast over lunch time, with <5% chance of rain at any time. The course set was a downstream beat to a starboard opposite the car park, which had poor winds if approached on port from the north and was better reached by a starboard tack from the south, then a run upstream to a starboard port dogleg just above the bosun's hut, followed by two starboards short of the ramp, and a beat down to the start line.
In the fun race Cathy Bridger changed the port to a starboard to create a course using the first three marks. She put together two relay teams each consisting of three sailing boats and a patrol boat and using batons. Times were reduced by 10 seconds for each chocolate collected from a buoy. In practice it took more than 10 seconds to collect a chocolate, hence the team which forgot to collect chocolates completed the relay first. It was good fun.
As sailing had been good Richard Cannon pronounced it suitable for the upstream Cundy Trophy long distance race for the final race. A starboard opposite the car park and a second starboard at the top of Sunbury Court Island; dropped ahead of the first boat after 25 minutes aiming for a 1 hour race. The run up along the island and the beat back became very slow. Unfortunately Mike Baker had a huge lead which made the race very long for the rest; he finished at 55 minutes, 20 minutes ahead of the next boat and 1 hour ahead of the last finisher.


17/09/17

The weather forecast was for northerly winds averaging up to 8 mph, but as suggested by the overcast conditions the experience at Aquarius was force 0 - 1, with a little more westerly direction permitting slow down stream runs. With the exception of one Grad in one race, all sailing was by Lasers. The course set had a choice at the top and at the bottom of the course, being upstream to a choice of starboard on the Surrey bank or port on the Middlesex side, then a Middlesex side starboard Surrey side port dog leg down to a choice of a Middlesex side port or Surrey side starboard. The top and bottom Middlesex side buoys were in potential wind shadows and hence were drawn closer to the start line than their Surrey side partners in order to make them more tempting. After the first race the top and bottom pairs were brought closer to the start line to increase the number of laps sailed and over the day the Surrey side starboard of downstream pair was brought in a little in order to entice competitors to use it more. As a result the choices made by helms began to have a significant impact on positions, with the upstream Middlesex side port and downstream Middlesex side port generally proving quicker than their Surrey side starboard equivalents. In the TFC race a choice of upstream or downstream start was offered. Only Josh elected to be contrarian, keeping to an upstream start to offset a poor start while the rest of the fleet chose to sail downstream. Based on lap times he ran second for most of the race but a painful 5 minute lull caused Josh, as last finisher, to drop places. The lunch proved perhaps more challenging than the wind, plentiful leftovers from the prior evening's Tramps and Trollops event being polished off with relish by members. My thanks must go to Pat Irving who reheated all the food and completed the clearing up, aided later by Joan Courtney.


10/09/17

The weather forecast was for winds rising to an average 20 mph with gusts to 30. As a consequence boats used were limited to 5 Bosuns, one radial Laser and one standard rig laser. The course set was upriver to a starboard, a downriver dogleg with a starboard near the car park and a port directly opposite, and a bottom port. The roughly westerly wind direction was very variable, gusty, shifty and this took some of the power out of the wind. In particular the leg from the first port to the bottom port seemed to be in a wind shadow caused by the run of trees on the Surrey bank. However, there were enough gusts to catch crews out - one fully rigged Bosun capsized, putting Rodger in the water and Joan Courtney (first capsize) hanging on to the side of the cockpit, the fully rigged Laser capsized near the top mark and some tangling of legs and sheets made recovery difficult, such that the incident involved two capsizes. The 14:00 event was novel Bosun match races (no handicaps applied); 2 races (different boats) of one lap between 2 Bosuns and a 3rd race between the winning boats allocated to the TFC (Training, Fun, Cruising) series. Graham Thompson reefed his Bosun and only took on a little water, but Josh and Cathy Bridger had a very vigorous bash around the course in Nigel's unreefed Bosun and outsailed the competition to win. Josh then went on to win two sprint races against the sole, reefed Bosun remaining in use at the end of the day.


03/09/17

The forecast wind was for a south to south easterly but in practice the wind was one of the most variable of the season, too weak to allow Bosuns to make good progress despite their weight allowing them to maintain movement between favourable wind shifts. There was inadequate gusting to trouble Lasers and the Graduate, or rather the variability of direction quickly reduced the impact on a given boat of any pick up in wind strength. The variability in wind direction was particularly challenging upstream of the clubhouse. The couse set was downstream to a bottom mid-stream port, upstream to a top starboard on the Middlesex side near the ramp, followed by a Middlesex side starboard, Surrey side port dogleg back to the start line. The sky was overcast and the rain forecast for 17:00 arrived 2 hours early. Mike Baker gave a presentation on sailing efficiently, which he demonstrated on the day by suffering a -2 adverse PH change.


27/08/17

The forecast was for north easterlies rising from 3mph average to 5mph around 2pm, then falling to 2 mph, with little gusting. A day of fun sailing was planned. The course was upstream with a choice of port or starboard (port on the Middlesex side) followed by a similar choice at the end of the downstream leg. An innovative scoring system was in use, two laps with the first to 10 points to win, with points awarded as follows: per lap 3, per port mark rounded 2 points, per 360 1 point, 5 points for a deliberate capsize, -3 for being rescued. The quickest way to win was one lap with two ports, the port after the next upstream leg, followed by a 360. Three such races were sailed. The final race was an upstream slalom starboard port, followed by a downward leg with a port near the Surrey bank to keep boats away from the slalom, a bottom port and a starboard on the way to the start line. Three boats competed, with average completed lap times used for boat handicap results and relative position in each group of complete laps sailed used for personal handicap rankings. Sailing was abandoned after a tea of strawberries and cake due to a lack of wind.


20/08/17

The weather forecast was for winds mainly westerly to west south westerly, a little too low for a Bosun but proving no problem for a single handed Graduate. The course set was a beat up river to a starboard mark just short of the ramp, a long run downstream to the lowest mark, a port, then a return upstream with a dogleg consisting of starboard on the Surrey side and port on the Middlesex side by the cruisers. Notable events were Dane Halling sailing Pat's Laser 4 and coming first on a given PH of 0, his -2 being reversed, and Keith Poncia engaging in a race despite a stiff neck. The wind died during the fourth/last lap of the final race of the day, causing 3 of the 9 participants to retire and giving an advantage to those who were finished on 3 laps.


13/08/17

The forecast was for northerlies with a maximum 5 mph and overcast from 3pm.  In the event, the wind was very variable with southerlies at times and the day remained sunny throughout.  The wind picked up somewhat in the final race. The course sailed was upriver port followed by a starboard portdog leg and a final port on the down river leg. During the day the port of the dogleg was brought to parallel with the starboard to make this leg easier. S Warne, a visitor, crewed for Josh Watson-Evans in the second race and then helmed a Laser in the third.  For fun events a series of practice starts was held.


06/08/17

The wind was a south westerly, sufficient to keep the two Bosuns on the water going at a reasonable pace but more suited to a single handed Graduate or a fully rigged Laser. Weed proved a problem, either running into weed near the bank or, as several members reported, getting caught in the centreboard or rudder. This was probably caused by some cutting of weed before the racing with an insufficient interval to allow the very sluggish current to clear floating weed from the course - Papercourt are reported to be having major weed problems in their lake at this time. The traffic of motor boats also proved a constraint on the course sailed at times. The course was upriver port, downriver port, with a port starboard dogleg on the beat up to the finish line. In the final race Andrew Knowles helmed Bosun 34 with his partner Depoitier C and his father acting as a double crew. Mike Baker dominated on the water, leading in eleven of the thirteen laps sailed, with Pat Halling and Graham Thompson taking a few seconds lead in one lap each.


30/07/17

Few members attended due to difficulties in getting to the club occasioned by the RideLondon cycling road race. The weather was overcast and average wind speeds of 17 mph and gusts to the mid 20s were forecast, with little rain. This was a little too high for single handing a light two hander such as a Graduate but Bosuns did not need to reef even when single handing. The wind was a westerly and not particularly variable in direction until the last two races, both sprints, of the day. Nigel suffered from shoulder pains and passed his Bosun to Rodger after one race, taking over the race officer function. In the fun race two Bosuns and the Pacer were helmed by novices, Brenda and Kevin Lavery and Dudley Wall. and crewed by experienced members. A combination of weed and more variable wind direction made sailing more difficult as the racing drew to a close.


23/07/17

The weather forecast for Heathrow was for westerlies averaging 12mph with gusts to around 18 and with the chance of rain rising to 80% in the afternoon. In the event the overcast conditions resulted in more subdued winds at AQSC, sufficient for getting round the course in Lasers, a Grad and a Pacer, but rather slow for the sole Bosun sailed. Towards the end of the day the variability in the wind direction increased, making the downstream run from mark 1 to mark 2 more challenging. Rain was limited to a short, heavy squall towards the end of the second morning race. Notable were the participation of Bryan in Keith Poncia's Pacer in the final race and the first sailing of Alastair Gray's newly acquired Skipper 14, at times with new member and novice Dudley Wall at the helm.


16/07/17

The weather forecast was for average winds max 9 mph and gusts to 17, all steadily westerlies and suitable for Lasers and Grads in a Cundy race. However, a work party was taking down and packing away the large gazebo after the hog roast and hence not available to sail; the two morning races were cancelled. Two grads cruised upriver, Bryan reaching Sunbury Court Island and Graham Sunbury lock. The forecast proved accurate - there was little gusting and the wind shifted occasionally by adding a little northerly or southerly, causing gentle jibes on the downstream run. The first event (14:30) was a fun race up stream to a buoy short of Sunbury Court Island. The Grad was able to reach the mark but not the Bosun. The second race added added Rodger Wheeler on his Laser; the Bosun started early and was recorded as did not finish. The overcast day produced a short, sharp shower during packing away the boats.


09/07/17

Very hot day. South to West 0 to 1 very vaiable. Eight boats.


02/07/17

North 1-2 morning, west in aftrnoon. Variable and shifty. Nigel Knowles did a Newcomers capsize event. Rodger gave a demo using a Pacer; it was surprisingly difficult to recover.


25/06/17

Hampton SC regatta was on so Series weren't sheduled so there wouldn't be a conflict for any one wanting to join the HSC Regatta; no one went. W to SW force 2-3 gust 4 variable gusty. Windier in the arfternoon. Good sailing with several capsizes. The 14:00 event was a race around Platts Ait which included going under the bridge that was lower than the masts.


18/06/17

W-NW 0-1 variable patchy shifty. All four Regatta Trophy races had the same entry. There was less wind for the Ladies/Novice race after lunch and only 3 boats could be persuaded to sail because it was too hot. Liz Archer won the Regatta Trophy, Alice Lea the Ladies Cup and Kevin Lavery the Novice Trophy.


17/06/17

WNW 0-1 variable in direction with fairly long drifts in lulls. 8 boats with both races having the same entry.


11/06/17

SW-W 2-3 gust 4 very variable gusty, shifty and fluky; 5 capsizes. Unfortunately there was no one iin Dutyman for 11 June so no one tobe rreminded; no one noticed so there was no one on race duty. In the morning Cath Bridger and Darren Best voluteered instead of sailing, and in the afternoon Jean Maracchi and Stuart Schafer helped; our thanks to them for saving the day.


14/05/17

On 14th May the wind was a westerly force 3 or 4 with a very slight current, such that lighter boats (Darren Best's Topaz, Keith Poncia's Pacer and Bryan Clements' Graduate) sailed on main only, but the Bosuns were well suited to the first 4 of the day's 5 races. Only two boats competed in the Sunrise race, a Bosun against the Topaz. By the second race Nigel Knowles had returned from delivering the club Grad to Chestnut Sunday and the race consisted of two single handed Bosuns which split the results Thompson BH 1 PH 2 and Knowles BH 2 PH 1. The TFC race was split into two races between 4 fully crewed Bosuns and Keith Poncia single handing his Pacer. The races saw the first instance of Brenda Lavery helming a boat in a race and a visit from Moumita Chakrabati to try out dinghy sailing. In the second of the two races Cathy Bridger, who was in good form with Rachel Holland as crew, was pipped at the finish line by Graham Thompson by 7 seconds to record BH 2, PH 1. She got her revenge in the final race of the day, gradually drawing ahead in winds consisting of a series of light vortexes, leading at the first lap and at the end of the third frustrating a late attempt by Graham Thompson at least to win on boat handicap when she tacked to starboard just short of the line to cross 3 seconds ahead.


07/05/17

N to NW to NE 0-1 patchy, 4 to 8mph. There was a bit more wind after tea for the last sprint race. As it was the first Sunday in the month there was a Newcomers Event; Graham Thompson talking on Going Faster (Replaced Mike Baker).


30/04/17

Excellent sailing with ESE force 2-3 wind, 10mph gust18. A bit patchy. No entry for the 11:00 Sunrise race.


23/04/17

Notes by Graham Thompson. The wind was light, being a roughly westerly force 1 to 2. Rob Britton set a simple starboard, port starboard course, taking care to keep number 3 out of any wind shadow. The day was enhanced by a visit from Mary and Charles Dennis, the latter giving Mike Baker a good Laser ding-dong in one race, before Mike responded by lapping just about everybody in the next. Numbers were good with about 8 boats on the water, including Nigel in his recently purchased Bosun. There was a plentiful supply of lasagne and cheese from the previous night's Italian evening and burger sales were reduced to 5.


16/04/17

West 2-3, no current.


09/04/17

SSW 1-2 gust 3, very gusty, shifty & variable, stronger in the afternoon. Pat Halling capsized.


02/04/17

NNW 0-10-8mph wind, variable, 0.4knts current; difficault to go upstream. Following the Newcomers talk on Rules and Racing the 14:00 event was practice starts with Graham Thompson and Mike Baker starting at 0:30 and the rest using rules to stop them getting passed; mostly unsuccessful. We were asked to keep clear of a rowing time trial around the time of our 15:30 race so we towed the 7 boats to Rivermead Island; the race back from there was much more enjoyable than trying to sail upstream; it was allocated to the Fun series instead of the SpA and Laser series.


26/03/17

Super start to the 2017 season. ENE 8 to 15 mph wind (Force 3-4) fairly steady; an excellent sail.