Jun 11


Race Report – 3rd June 2018 – To ‘The Ship’ and Back

Sunday, 3rd of June, and a merciless sun beats down on the small group of stalwart SBSC sailors huddled in the shade of the clubhouse.  Worse still, the wind seems languid, torpid, as if dulled to insensibility by the heavy heat.  Lost in their own thoughts, each man and woman no doubt reflects on the words of the poet…

When the still sea conspires an armour
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead!

It up to Race Officer Jane to rally us.  Instead of the planned downriver race, a race to the Ship pub at Wandsworth Bridge and back is mooted, with time for refreshments in between legs.  Heartened, the brave band gather on the foreshore. Barbara, Elaine, Sally and Alexei opt for Lasers.  Sara and Allan choose Solos, with Allan giving an outing to the new club Solo.  Finally, Ben and Tom plump for a Xenon.  A Le Mans start sees new member Barbara take an early lead, making full use of the minimal wind on offer.  Sara, Alan, Sally and Alexei make up the middle of the pack, whilst Elaine, Tom and Ben follow on.  But by the time the Ship hoves into view, Sara and Alan have taken the lead, with superb displays of seamanship, or at least elegant drifting.  Sally meanwhile in her Laser has trouble with a badly fitting bung, which slows her down.

Landfall is made at the Ship, and all retire for refreshments and to await high tide.  Sally has the clever idea to fashion a new bung from an old champagne cork found at the pub, and spends the interval whittling it down to size.  As high tide approaches, Ben offers to go back to the beach to check on the boats.  Worried that she has over-whittled, Sally shouts out across the crowded beer garden ‘Ben, can you have a look and see how big my hole is…?’. 


A stunned silence falls over the entire pub.  Tumbleweeds blow through the scene.  In heaven, Kenneth Williams looks down and smiles fondly.  Sally tries to hide under the table and plan her emigration to South America…

Anyway, undaunted, the brave band gather on the beach for the return leg.  Another Le Mans start is planned, but for the Xenon team, ‘Le Mans start’ seems to mean ‘push out into the river a minute early’.  Unsettled by this embarrassing incident of premature embarkation, the rest of the race start to edge out into the water.  Unfortunately, the more vertically-challenged members start to find they have more river depth than they have leg length, and begin to launch, with the result that as ‘Go’ is called, it looks to this observer that only Alexei still has one leg on the river bed.

In spite of this, it is soon Alexei who takes not only the moral high ground, but also the lead, showing great skill in balancing his Laser in the negligible wind.  In a rare tactical lapse, Allan leads a group of his followers into a line between the shore and the moored boats, and seems to lose advantage as a result.   At the finish, it was Sara, then Barbara followed by Alexei.  Adjustments for handicap then gave:-

  1. Sara – Solo
  2. Allan – Solo
  3. Sally – Laser
  4. Alexei – Laser
  5. Barbara – Laser
  6. Ben and Tom – Xenon
  7. Elaine – Laser

However, as, in this observer’s view, competition is merely a bourgeoise concept designed to distract us from the class struggle, the only real winner today was international capitalism.