On a moderately breezy warm late summer afternoon the Corinthians set
off for their Club Championships. The rules for the Championships were
changed for 2009 and now include a separate race for Lasers and
So five Lasers, five
Enterprises, and three Visions were rigged, the
Lasers and Enterprises to race, the Visions, mainly manned by recent
graduates from the RYA course, to practice their sailing skills on the
river. One of the Enterprise crews was a pair of young men (Seth and
Damon) who had wandered onto the scene from the street enquiring about
the sailing and had been whisked into an Enterprise and onto the water
The nice weather seemed to make
everybody a bit slow in the preparation
though. Almost half the fleet was still on the pontoon, when the race
was started. So only three of the Enterprises and four of the Lasers
actually started the race. Our new sailors from the street did start on
time, but unfortunately nobody seemed to have explained the locations
of the buoys to them. Unfortunately they went round the course the
wrong way and had to be disqualified.
On a Southwesterly 2-3 the race
officer Hugh Kemlo and his assistant
Miranda set a fun course round No. 6, No.5, No. 4, No. 3, and No. 1
buoys. The course meant a lot of gybing and some fast and exhilarating
reaching across the river, which we don’t get very often in
our races. It also meant many close encounters between boats beating
upwind and boats zigzagging downwind and many shouts of
After an excellent race Gareth
and Ben sailed to victory in Jester having had
some close shaves with capsizing. The second place was taken by John
Hemminsey and Bonnie Chu, two sailors very new to the club, with Bonnie
being one of the recent RYA graduates.
Susie Best and Dougie Wilson
had made it to No. 3 at the top of the
Eyot in their Enterprise, when the wind dropped and they drifted
backwards for a while. When they finally managed to claw their way
back, they were way at the back of the fleet. Battling on unperturbed
they were hit by the wash of a passing vessel and capsized near the
eyot. At this point they gave up and were towed back by the able crew
of the safety boat.
In the Laser fleet Robin shot
away in his Laser at the start, for a
while followed by Angela and Kerstin, who fought it out until Angela
got away after the first lap in pursuit of Robin. She continued her
pursuit for another three laps and almost caught up with Robin, until
she suddenly fell overboard in a gust, while the boat staid upright.
And Robin sailed to victory.
Andre who had been starting a
bit late managed to catch up and overtake
Kerstin in the end, partially aided by the fact that Kerstin was
unaware for a while of a tree branch stuck on her rudder slowing her
down, no doubt providing
entertainment to the people at the Old Ship
It was a very enjoyable race
under almost perfect conditions on a
lovely summer afternoon.
1st: Gareth LLewellyn and Ben Wilder
2nd: John Hemminsey and Bonnie Chu
1st: Robin Johnson
2nd: Angela Boyhan
3rd: Andre Gareh
4th: Kerstin Exner
Race officers: Hugh Kemlo and
Safety Boat drivers: Peter Hallett and Alex Scott-Tonge
wind wasn't playing ball, but since when did the dinghy brigade let
that put them off?
The rules of the Club
Championship require three out of four races to win, sailed over two
days. This rule caused a great deal of dark muttering from the race
officer, Gavin Robertson, along the lines of: "It's ludicrous expecting
two races to be run in these conditions." For 'these conditions', read
But he persevered over the
weekend and managed to organise two races on each day, optimistically
setting the course at No5 and No1 once, and No3 and No1 four times.
Eleven dinghies turned out on the first day and nine on the second.
The wind force 2-3, SE, with a
strong tide did not bode particularly well, but it held steadily enough
for the fleet to make progress. Chris Winnington-Ingram risked life and
limb with Beverley Beech as crew in his beautiful new, yet-to-be-named,
dinghy, but they stayed upright and had the distinct advantage of being
able to chase the wind and avoid the irritating holes.
The fleet beat up to No 5,
gybed around and then jostled for position as they hugged the island to
avoid the strength of the tide.
The race officer finished the
first race after the leading dinghy had returned from No5 and rounded
No1. Fortunately, the fleet was fairly close together so the leading
dinghies did not have long to wait for the start of the next race.
Sunday's racing looked even
less promising - there was no wind.
As the sailors gathered, the
alternatives were debated: gardening, tidying the undercrofts, pruning
The wind, fortunately, picked
up, but not by much. It was Force 1- 2, SE which increased enough
during the launch of the dinghies to encourage everyone.
With such a poor direction the
race officer, Robbie Robertson, had little choice but to lay the buoy
at No3 down by the island in a promising patch of wind and No1 (off
By the time the race started,
delayed by the safety boat gathering up the majority of the fleet that
had drifted the wrong side of the start line, the wind gave an
encouraging bleat and the fleet shot off to No3. When they arrived, the
wind had abated and the dinghies bunched up and jostled for the best
positions while fighting a fearsome tide. They inched their way along
the bank and past the pub while suffering the unasked-for advice from
the expert landlubbers, emboldened by suitable quantities of beer.
At this point, Robin Johnson
crept ahead, sneaked along the bank and, after an agonisingly long
period finally cleared No1 buoy and sailed across the finishing line.
Clive Kitson, who had been
closely following Robin, misjudged the end of the pontoon and was swept
down onto it. With the help of Beverley Beech he was fended off, only
then to find the dinghy in danger of being swept under the brow. Some
swift hauling on the painter swung the dinghy around and enabled Clive
to climb back on and sail off in pursuit of Robin and, although he
crossed the line ten minutes later, he retired due to outside
Some 14 minutes after Robin's
win, Andre Gareh finished. The remainder of the fleet failed to
complete the course however.
The leading dinghies hung
around while the safety boat began towing the laggards past the start
line in preparation for the second race, but the wind did little to
help. At least the delay enabled the tide to abate a little.
Clive Kitson came ashore before
the start of this race, clutching his back and yelping as he bent to
haul the Laser ashore. Johnny Lyell also retired, unwilling to battle
the tide for a second time. Finally, with everyone else on the right
side of the line, and the safety boat scooping up the last Enterprise,
which had managed to drift down as far as the island, the second race
Once again the fleet set off in
an impressive rush only to find little wind and little progress against
the tide. This time, however, Richard Wood and Catherine O'Sullivan
battled with Robin Johnson for the lead (Richard and Catherine did not
start in time for the first race and soon returned to the pontoon with
gear problems, but they sorted it out).
In the race box, Robbie and
Beverley were have a great debate about when to stop the race. The
choice was between an early finish when the leading dinghy crossed the
line or taking a risk and requiring the fleet to round No1 buoy and
then cross the finishing line. The latter was agreed, and some
nail-biting ensued with a quick prayer that what little wind there was
would remain, allowing the last dinghy to round No1 and still get back
across the line before the tide changed.
Fortunately, that is precisely
what happened. Richard and Catherine, after a battle with Robin to No
1, rounded it first and triumphantly headed for the finishing line with
Robin finishing a few minutes later. Peter Druce and Gareth Llewellyn
finished sixth and proudly announced that this was the first race that
they had actually managed to finish.
Tony Robinson, our President,
on behalf of all the sailors, thanked Robbie for organising the races.
He particularly mentioned how grateful the sailors were to Charles
Frater who generously gave his time as safety boat driver on both days
of the championship, and to Matt Thomas, a new member, who acted as
deputy safety boat driver. He then presented a bottle of wine (an
interesting pale pink concoction that was aptly named Rocket) to Robin
who, on collecting his prize, remarked that the fleet could have done
with a bit of rocket power during the race.
Robin Johnson, Mollie – 1st
Richard Wood and Catherine O’Sullivan, Veloche – 2nd
Andre Gareh, Flute – 3rd
Angela Boylan – 152406 – 4th
Ed Best and Jenny Drife, Canary – 5th
Gareth Llwewllyn and Peter Druce, Telegraph – 6th
Kerstin Exner, Meltemi – 7th
Clive Kitson, Illigitimus – Retired
Sailors who sailed one day only:
Ed Best and Jenny Drife, Canary
Simon Ashendon, Cottontail
John Lyell, Sunday Sport
John Moolenschot, Sunday Sport
Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, May 2008