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Squadron Dinghy Racing

2002: The Squadron Racing event, invented and enthusiastically promoted by Charles Vermont, has had to be moved from Sunday 28th April to Saturday 6th July at 10.00, in order not to clash with the last race in an offshore spring series.

This is the event in dinghies where offshore and dinghy sailors compete on the Thames, so we want everyone to join in (and the weather should be better!) Racing will be followed by a BBQ.

Please contact Charles to sign up and for further details Funchoice@btinternet.com. And may the best team win!

A new kind of event...

Last year we had 19 dinghies racing round a tight course in the red and blue colours - everyone seemed to enjoy it so why not give it a go this year?

The rules for Squadron Racing are very simple:

  • Everyone races everyone else
  • The Squadron with the most points wins

What this means it that even if you are at the back of the fleet, you could still be the difference between your squadron winning and losing.

The race starts at 10.00 so we'll finish at about the right time to have a drink and a bite to eat. If you don't have a crew or a helm for that day then let me know and I'll try to match you with one.

All the best

Charles Vermont


Report of the first Squadron race:

Pictures c/o Tony Robinson.

Having celebrated with Sons the purchase of the building on the previous weekend, and encouraged a few extra sailors to join the Squadron Sailing on the following weekend (Saturday 28th April) our Offshore and Dinghy sailors divided into two squadrons (Red and Blue) and took to the water with enthusiasm.

I arrived an hour and a half before the start in the belief that the car park would be bursting with dinghies only to find David Edwards (senior) rigging his dinghy and a vast expanse of open space. Perhaps this was a tactic to give your new Commodore heart failure. Over the next hour or so our, invariably tardy sailors, rolled in and boats rolled out.

Needless to say, the wind was light and fickle, but after some discussion (forty sailors, each with a different opinion!) the course was agreed, the buoys laid (by Charles Frater and Simon Ashenden) and Paul Davis (our new Rear Commodore Sailing) leaped onto the wall and gave a quick briefing. He was followed by Charles Vermont, who had expended a great deal of time and energy encouraging all the dinghy owners and sailors to come and sail. He split the fleet into two by the highly scientific method of asking those present to divide themselves into two groups and then handing red ribbons to one group and blue ribbons to the other. The long hours he spent burning the midnight oil assessing the skills of each of the helms had clearly been rejected for this improved method.

We were to have three races. Ten minutes after the hooter acknowledging the winner crossing the line the count-down would start for the second race. The rear of the fleet sailors, therefore, had to decide whether or not they would make it to the line in time, or give up and race back for the start of the next race.

The first dinghy scored 1 point, the second 2 and so on. Those not making the ten minute deadline scored 20 (the number of dinghies on the water). At the end, all the scores would be added up and lowest scoring team would have been just

Due to the light airs (Force 3, south easterly) the race officer, Chris Crossland, set a down stream start with a beat to no 1 buoy (Hammersmith bank, near Weltje Terrace) and a further beat down river to No 2 buoy on the Surrey bank and then a run upstream to No 3 buoy off The Ship, twice. I had expected an interesting raft up around No 1 buoy as the demon sailors all arrived at the same time, however, the light airs sorted out the sheep from the goats and there was enough room for calls for 'water' to be responded to without any barging.

Needless to say, our champion demon sailor, Hugh Kemlo, ably abetted by his son, Fergus, shot off like a rocket and maintained that position crossing the line well ahead of the rest of us. Because of the strength of the tide, judging the beat across to No 2 was critical and this buoy claimed its fair share of eager sailors who then had to re-round.

Most of the stragglers gathered in time to start the second race and while we were milling about Bill Simpson managed a very gentle and elegant capsize. Clearly, his new crew needed the practice and this incident added spice to the event (and delight to the bystanders) and gave Charles Frater the opportunity to roar up and stand-by in case of death and disaster. Neither occurred and we set off again on the next race.

By the final race, the wind had increased so the jockying for position on the line was even more thrilling. The beat to No 1 and 2 involved even more shouting for 'water' and, as the wind was not so flukey No 2 did not claim any victims. On the run down to No3 a four-dinghy raft up occurred when the windward dinghy suddenly and vigorously luffed and collided with three others - relatively gently. Quite what happened has not really been established but mutters about gear failure was heard. Anyway, all was forgiven, seven-twenties done and, once again, the mighty Kemlos roared across the line closely followed by Robin Johnson.

Waiting in the queue to come alongside the pontoon Val Nedyalkov and my helm, Ben Smith, got bored so we challenged them to a quick race back to No2 instead of waiting around only for some smart Alec to nick our spot (no names, no pack drill).

Having tucked up the dinghies, hungry and thirsty sailors repaired to the bar and then to the bar-b-que. The food was wonderful, the weather less so. It chose that moment to rain! The damp did not suppress the enthusiasm, all over the club there were small groups of sailors muching merrily and conducting the inevitable autopsy on the days fun.

Suggestions have now been made that we run another one a few weeks after the Offshore race. This time, the Blue team easily won (best points: Hugh & Fergus, 2nd: Martin & Vian for the blue team). Perhaps we should divide the Offshore fleet and the Red team can seek revenge then?

Beverley Lawrence Beech
 

Notice of Race:

Sunday 29th April 2001 starting at 17.30: Squadron Racing Dinghy vs Offshore!!

Watch the noticeboards and sign up for the Blue (Onshore) Squadron or Red (Offshore) Squadron. Sail a tight triangluar course in front of the Clubhouse in an Enterprise. Squadron result hinges on how many boats cross the finish. Spectators welcome! 17:30 start, followed by BBQ dinner. Limited no of places, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Rules for the race: With 21 dinghies signed up already it looks like it will be a lot of fun. The usual rules of starboard, windward and water round the buoy apply with the usual penalties Any deliberate attempt to impede the progress of another boat rather than race round the course will lead to disqualification and relegation to last place in the race. This is a team event so the winners are the squadron with the most points. Points are determined by the place a boat finishes relative to the rest of the fleet. So, if there are 20 boats, first place wins 20 points, second 19 and so forth until last place wins 1. If there are 24 boats in the fleet then first place wins 24 points and so forth. ...and that's about it - I'm trying to keep things simple.

Further information: The course will be a tight triangular one in front of the clubhouse which will be laid according to wind conditions on the day. This means that spectators will be able to see all of the race.

There will be a barbecue afterwards and all sailors are invited to bring as many guests to this as they like. Details will follow as there is a slight complication since Maggie will be in Thailand with Anthea on the day so we are arranging an alternative catering team.
Charles Vermont

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 20 Jun 2002