Race Reports

In this section you'll also find a number of updates on how over events in the racing calendar have unfolded. Check back throughout the season to keep in touch with all the action.

If you have a report that you'd like to be included (and yes, this section depends on contributions!), please email it to reports@minimayc.co.uk

Autumn Sailing & Kayaking Roundup - 2013

posted 18 Dec 2013, 10:12 by Graham Morley   [ updated 18 Dec 2013, 21:07 ]

Here are a few of the highlights from the autumn season

12 & 13 October
The sailing and paddling sections of the club enjoyed mixed fortunes over the weekend.

On Saturday, we loaded the Club trailer with seven kayaks and drove to Dapdune Wharf in Guildford for our monthly 'canoe adventure'. It was sunny and warm and we had a lovely day paddling down the River Wey from Guildford to Godalming and back, with lunch at 'The Parrot in Shalford'. Report and photos to follow.

In contrast on Sunday, the weather was miserable. A hard core of sailors went out for the second race in the Autumn Series, but we decided to postpone the sail training for beginners and improvers.  [It was held a week or two later. The cadets finished their training and received their club certificates – AC]

Steve Collins, Sailing Secretary

24 November 
There was a superb turnout of 13 boats for the 7th Race in the Autumn Series on Sunday on a cold day, but with a perfect sailing breeze from the North. 

The Race Officers decided to try and sharpen the fleet's mark-rounding skill by setting a challenging slalom course C(P) E(P) D(S) E(S). In the end, seven laps were sailed which gave competitors 28 opportunities to improve this important, race winning, skill.

Three Enterprises, sailing abreast, demonstrated how not to do it, by losing control on the downwind leg and missing mark E completely. Erica, sailing a more conservative race in her Topper, took the opportunity to round the mark in a seamanlike manner and overtook all three of them!

Nick John, in the spirit of 'The Tortoise and the Hare' sailed around at the back of the fleet and won the race overall based on personal handicap. Alastair Banks was the 'Hare' at the front of the fleet, but could only manage second. Erica was third.

Alastair leads the personal handicap series with two races to go (competitors count their best six results in the nine race series).

Current leaders in the subsidiary class series are Denis and Erica (Merlin), Andy Banks (Enterprise), Alastair Banks (Solo) and Ed Mayley (Handicap).

Good to see two new Enterprises on the water - John Forbes’ 22484 'The Grand Sophie' (he will explain the name) and Andy Greenwood in a very elegant composite FRP with wooden decks.

Steve Collins, Sailing Secretary

1 December
A welcome repeat of the previous Sunday’s northerly breezes, although rather lighter, again brought out a fine turnout of 13 boats. It would have been 14, but a cack-handed boarding manoeuvre put yours truly in the water before I’d even got the centreboard down! Wishing I’d been more sensible as well as making a road-test of my wetsuit, I retired to dry off, drink tea and watch everyone else enjoying the sailing. 

It turned out a dry and bright afternoon with a pleasant sunset although cold – Keith Black retired underdressed from Bay Gent. The short course and steady breeze led to a lot of bunching of the fleet, made worse when a large motor cruiser nudged through and forced John Forbes to abandon his cries of “Starboard!” to other competitors who were avoiding being sunk. John wants eyes in the back of his head for Christmas. Sel and Ben had to work together in the race box recording all the lap times as the dinghies came across the line thick and fast.

Hopefully the last race on the 8th will have yet another fair breeze, and give the sailors plenty of enthusiasm to come along and finish off the series in equal style.

Andy Cuckson

(Overal Report Compiled by Andy Cuckson)
(Photos taken 1 December by the author and Rob Mayley)
(Photos taken 8 December by Denise Norman)

For more photos, please take a look here in the Gallery: Autumn Roundup - 2013

Minima Regatta - 2013

posted 2 Sep 2013, 23:42 by Graham Morley   [ updated 2 Sep 2013, 23:42 ]

There is no point looking at the weather forecast if you are planning a sailing regatta: what will be will be. But Minima’s team running this year’s annual shindig on the Thames, sponsored for the seventh lucky year running by the excellent TWM Solicitors, looked out of the window on Saturday morning with a song in their hearts, as the day dawned with the magic mix of sun and breeze together.

Local conditions added their own ingredients to the recipe, with a reasonably steady north-westerly occasionally flipping from one side to the other of Minima’s home reach, bouncing off the new flats towards Kingston bridge, or swirling round the trees on the west bank. As the classes started the gusts must have hit force 4, but petered out and settled down around the force 2 mark, and barely that by the end of the only contest of the day.

But it was enough to let the race committee set a good long course, well across the Surbiton border and up to Raven’s Ait, home water of Thames Sailing Club, many of whom were supporting the Minima event. The towering Thames Raters of Thames and Upper Thames sailed a longer course right up to the ait (Thames-speak for islet) along with the Merlin Rockets, while the shorter-masted Enterprises and Solos had a top mark about three parts of the distance.

The results of that first race reflected the relatively straightforward conditions, tending towards the processional, although Nick Titley (Twickenham), Alistair Banks and John Metzner finished within 30 seconds of each other in their Solos, in that order. All parties then retired for an evening of barbecue and sublime jazz in a nearly-balmy evening on Minima balcony. It was to be a different story in the morning.

Sunday was sunny, but on the tree in my garden the leaves barely shivered. And the breeze for the second race, on Sunday morning had retained nothing from the previous day except its constant changing of direction. A fluky westerly gave us a race of lifts and holes, and frustration tacking to follow shifts which shifted back the moment you tacked. You may gather that your correspondent did not enjoy the best of fortunes, but the winner of this race in these most testing conditions came away with the overall trophy in every class.

Which is a slight distortion of the truth, in that in the Raters, Martin Hunter, now with Upper Thames, in fact won all three races. However for the Merlins, Enterprises and Solos the result was open until the final race, which took place in slightly less tormenting conditions. Ken Duffel of Tamesis took the Merlin prize after a couple of years leaving this honour to his clubmates, despite Thames’s Hullabalo (1692) taking two firsts, with different helms Patrick Rayner and Rob Cage. And it was good to see Minima’s top young sailors taking the honours in the Solos and Ents, which went to Alistair Banks and Alex Cane respectively.

Minima sailing secretary Steve Collins paid tribute to the commercial riverboats who steamed ‘sympathetically’ through the flock of 26 entries, which was fair but not as entertaining as the narrow boat which managed simultaneously to collect one competitor at each end when they managed to snag their mainsheets on its cleats.
Proceedings ended with a bang on Sunday night, after police carried out a controlled explosion on a grenade near Minima’s premises. Despite this, the competition has yet reached the level where flak jackets must be worn as well as lifejackets.

The winners each got a bottle of TWM Solicitors’ champagne, most cheerfully presented by Kingston Deputy Mayor Councillor Alan Dean, which added to the gaiety of a very successful event.

Results (Minima members unless stated), 26 entries: 

Thames ‘A’ Raters
  1. Martin Hunter, Roger Stafford, Jacques Hunter (Upper Thames)
  2. Tom Wilson, Julian Cocker, Stefan Kettner (Thames)
Merlin Rocket
  1. Ken Duffel, Joe Woods (Tamesis)
  2. Chris Martin (Thames)
  3. Dennis Lockwood, Erica Bishop
  1. Alex Cane, David Cane
  2. John Forbes, Alex Miller
  1. Alistair Banks
  2. John Kemp
  3. Nick Titley (Twickenham)
John Forbes, Minima.
(Photos by Pete Halligan)

Barclays Bank Trophy - 28th July 2013

posted 3 Aug 2013, 23:59 by Graham Morley

Sailing conditions for this year’s Barclays Bank Trophy event were near perfect, with a decent southerly breeze blowing down the Kingston reach, and mixed sunshine and clouds with odd squally showers rendering the weather not uncomfortably hot. A good deal of hiking out was needed as the dinghies pushed through the waves in a foaming wake. Early on, a number of entrants were confused by (or didn’t read!) the course set by Geoff Moss, and rounded marks the wrong way! As a consequence, those who didn’t re-sail their correct course were scored DNF (did not finish). I’ve had some of that!

The first two races were dominated by the Merlin Rockets, with Paul Seamen and Ŝian 
Winslow-Davitt in ‘Warrior’ winning the first race from Denis Lockwood and Ed Mayley in ‘Bow Belle’. Paul sailed the wrong course in the second race which gave first place to Denis.

For the third race, Steve Collins and Naz Ivasyuk had sorted out some problems with the rigging of their Argo, to allow them to mix it with the Merlins. The final positions were Paul first, Steve second and Denis third. Fourth place was held firmly by Enterprise ‘Alanah’ sailed by Alex and David Cane, who stayed fairly close to the leaders and opened up a sizeable gap in front of the rest of the fleet.

The gusty wind made for a few capsizes, notably by Joe Murphy, sailing his Laser ‘A Swingin’ Affair’, who had two tries! – and he was noted drying off nicely in the safety launch later. Keith Black, crewing for Richard Shillito, completed his capsize training in this race, having declined to take part in the training in the morning.

In the starting melée, Sel Shah unluckily had the bottom panel of ‘Mata Hari’s’ mainsail split while she and Denis Lockwood were sailing close. Never one to give up, Sel with guest crew Stefan Ketner started and finished the race, although the damaged sail might have proved a disadvantage.

Sailing Secretary Steve Collins began the award ceremony with customary thanks to the club’s helpers and officers of the day, without whom the event could not possibly go well. Commodore Andy Banks then presented the prizes, the overall winners being Paul Seamen and Ŝian Winslow-Davitt. As a Barclays Bank employee, Paul admitted this was the first time he’d won this trophy, which dates from about fifteen years ago, when Barclays had a small sailing club based at Minima and where he began sailing. He finished his impromptu speech by saying this was a great sport and a great club, to strong applause.

Altogether a superb day’s sailing at Minima, with a convivial mood on the sunlit balcony and in the club room afterwards. Well done to all who took part.

A whole host of photos [Editor - by Andy Cuckson] can be found in the Gallery section here: Barclays Bank Trophy -2013

The winners, decided on three races and boat handicap:-
  1. Merlin          "Warrior"  Paul Seamen            Ŝian Winslow-Davitt
  2. Merlin          "Bow Belle"  Denis Lockwood  Ed Mayley
  3. Enterprise  "Alanah"  Alex Cane  David Cane
By Andy Cuckson
[Editor - A big thank you to Andy for his report and photos. Sorry that we could attach the captions!]

Enterprise and Solo Open - Sunday 2nd June 2013

posted 3 Jun 2013, 10:49 by Graham Morley

Enterprise and Solo Open at Minima Yacht Club.

Fantastic weather and a good fleet of Solos distinguished the Enterprise and Solo Open meeting at Minima Yacht Club at the weekend (Sunday June 2nd).
With a good north wind which is unimpeded by the trees and buildings on the banks of the Kingston reach of the Thames, we had a thoroughly entertaining day's sailing. Although the wind strength fluctuated throughout the day, to the point where you could predict its return after a lull, it never became gusty and the last couple of laps of the final race had everyone out on their toe straps in the sun enjoying a glorious force 3-4 which really blew the winter cobwebs away.

The course on Minima's north-south home reach had the top and bottom marks offset for the two classes, with the intention of keeping the competitions apart. However the clean wind at the rear of the fleet for the relatively long run had the effect of allowing the back markers to catch up, leading to crowding and excitement as they approached the gybe mark. The massed Solos made a brave sight, spread out across the river as the Enterprises, beating back from their mark a few hundred metres upstream, tore into them almost every lap going fast close-hauled on the starboard tack. Happily there were no collisions to speak of.

It was fun, and the first couple of races were not arduous with the wind more in the force 0-1-2 range, so there were no discards, and the contest was full on for all three races. In the Enterprises Steve Collins, guest starring at the helm of crew Brian Cheetham's Almaviva, won the first race, but the lone visitor Chris Rowsell, from Lensbury, took the second so everything was to play for as the wind got up in the third, with Steve taking the prize. The honours were contested by half the fleet, with several of the other Minima boats up with the leaders at one time or another particularly on the run, when at different times either the bank or the centre was favoured by the pulsing breeze.
Godfrey Clark from Fishers Green SC took the first two races in the Solos, but was relegated to third in the last race behind Littleton's Julian Rickards and Mike Dray.
Racing finished in good time, allowing competitors to enjoy the hospitality of Minima's beautifully renovated bar/balcony looking at its best in the afternoon sunshine, courtesy of grants from Sport England and the London Marathon Trust and a lot of hard work by the members of this self-propelled sailing club.

The only pity was that most of the Enterprises in the Thames Valley Bowl circuit decided to stay away -- very much their loss -- but with eight Enterprises and 13 Solos on the river many more might have spoiled a cracking day's sail for the rest of us. Absentees included three Ents from Twickenham who were towed home in the morning, possibly smarting from their 2-0 class defeat in Saturday's Firkin Trophy team race between Minima and Twickenham's Solos and Enterprises. Minima won 3-1 overall. Of course they may have over-indulged in the contents of the Firkin of London Pride.


Enterprise Open (Thames Valley Bowl/River Series):
  1. Steve Collins, Brian Cheetham (Minima)
  2. Chris Rowsell, Teresa Burton (Lensbury)
  3. Alex and David Cane (Minima)
Solo Open (Thames Valley Series)
  1. Godfrey Clark
  2. Julian Rickards
  3. Mike Dray

John Forbes, MYC.
(pictures to follow, I hope..)

May Merrie Trophy Race – Monday 6 May 2013

posted 12 May 2013, 12:10 by Graham Morley   [ updated 13 May 2013, 11:44 ]

For the second year running, the May Merrie Cup/R.N.L.I. Trophy event, with a course set traditionally to pass around the island of Raven’s Ait and back to the club house, was re-jigged as a ‘near the island’ race owing to a lack of wind. Although a little stronger than for the previous day’s event and more southerly, breezes were poor in Minima’s home reach, so a shorter, more productive course was set in the wide reach of the river, between a start line at the Riverside Café and the north end of the Ait.

This is Minima’s first open event of the season, and members were joined by two Thames Sailing Club crews, fielding an Omega dinghy and a Thames ‘A’ Rater which made the meeting more interesting. Raters, which look like large slippery slivers of soap, are always head turners, and Rater 9 Karina added to the public spectacle. We had a large audience on Queen’s Promenade. Competitors either sailed and paddled or took a tow to the start, where the breeze was instantly better and closer to a southerly, although still rather slight. There were occasional healthy blasts coming from between the boscage, which made it actually feel like sailing, but conditions were still difficult for novice helms like the writer who are struggling to master the basics. The tall-masted Rater and Merlin and the best helms in Enterprises and Solos predictably performed well, while the rest of the fleet was spread out, mainly according to ability. Our guests Jane Gerrard and Patrick Rayner, sailing the Omega, came in seventh. Ed Mayley showed his skill by beating the writer’s Enterprise with his Topper in conditions which did not favour a small sail. Jackie Griffin did the same in her Solo. Minima’s newcomers were well represented, including Hyun-Joo Jeong crewing for Andy Banks, Claire Evans crewing Ian Peace, and Keon Woo Lee in a Topper. The sunshine put in a good showing, being persistent enough to make sunscreen essential for the fair skinned, while the author regretted afterwards not wearing a hat. He found himself unable to say properly ‘Raters Look Like Large Slippery Slivers of Soap’ in the bar later, and puts it down to slight sunstroke rather than an excess of Glenmorangie. 

The presentation proceedings were attended by the Worshipful the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames, Councillor Mary Heathcote, and the Mayor’s Consort Dr. Roger Heathcote. Before the ceremony, Madam Mayor spent some time speaking to club members.

In his welcoming address, Commodore Andy Banks thanked Madam Mayor and her party for attending Minima’s May Merrie prize giving ceremony, and also thanked our visitors from Thames Sailing Club for entering this open event and making it all the better. None of the weekend’s hard working helpers were forgotten, and bosuns, race officers, caterers and assistants alike were all named and thanked. Andy recalled the Queen’s 2012 Jubilee Beacon Lighting Event on the river at Minima, when club officials taking Madam Mayor out to the beacon were instructed: ‘If she falls in, grab the Chain!’

In her answering speech, Madam Mayor spoke about how much visiting Minima Yacht Club had meant to her while in office. Attending the May Merrie event twice had practically marked the beginning and end of her term, making this day a pleasant homecoming to a club she holds in high regard; and thanks to Minima Yacht Club, the Royal Borough of Kingston’s own 2012 Jubilee Beacon was made rather special by being anchored and lit in the middle of the Thames.

Sailing Secretary Steve Collins then announced the winners and Madam Mayor presented the prizes, after which Chris Martin spoke on behalf of the visitors from Thames Sailing Club to thank Minima for making it so enjoyable and giving them a warm-up open event to start the season.

See below for the Results Table:

 Place Class  Boat Name  Helm  Crew  Club 
 1st Merlin Rocket  Pooh  Ben Marshall  Sel Shah  Minima YC 
 2nd Solo  Isabel  John Metzner  Minima YC 
 3rd Thames 'A' Rater  Karina  Chris Martin  Sue Williams, Stefan Ketner  Thames SC 

Full results can be found by clicking this link: Race Results

Photo Key (Top to Bottom):
  • Ben Marshall and Sel Shah accepting the May Merrie Cup and the R.N.L.I. Trophy (for first Minima boat home) from Kingston’s Mayor, Councillor Mary Heathcote
  • John Metzner accepting second prize
  • Chris Martin and Stefan Ketner accepting third prize
Report by Andy Cuckson

Spring Long Distance Race – Sunday 5 May 2013

posted 12 May 2013, 11:57 by Graham Morley   [ updated 13 May 2013, 11:43 ]

With practically non-existent west to south-west wind, this year’s key Minima club event of the spring might best be described as gruelling. Granted the weather was quite warm and pleasant, and the rain stayed off, but this was just as well, because for almost all the time the sailors were sitting either waiting for a puff of wind or praying the stream didn’t take them back to where they were five minutes before. Demoralising is another way of describing it.

The full course length is traditionally from the club house to Hampton Court bridge and back, but on this occasion it was shortened, with the upstream mark put in the water near Thames Ditton Island. Even this was a tad too long for the conditions! Outbound, some competitors stopped off for ice creams at the Riverside Café to boost already flagging morale and cool off! The majority of starters retired just below Raven’s Ait. After this, invoking the new Stragglers’ Rule, Bay Gent helmed by Richard Shillito and Jackdaw helmed by Andy Cuckson took a tow to bring them past the Ait and hopefully back into the race. Others getting that far strictly under sail needn’t have worried – progress for the less experienced helms was still tending to zero! Ahead, remaining competitors were Rob Brooks (Solo, Solace), Alan Jales (Enterprise, Minnie Too), Ali Banks (Solo, Windrush), Steve Collins (Wayfarer, Arctic Fox), and Sel Shah (Merlin, Pooh). After what seemed an age, all then retired except Ali, Steve and Sel.

The Spring Long Distance is a class race, with trophies for Merlin Rocket, Solo, Enterprise and Handicap classes, but the trophies for Merlin Rocket and Solo classes were not available to be presented, and no Enterprises finished. First boat home was Pooh, helmed by Sel Shah and crewed by Ben Marshall. The only entrant for Handicap class and second across the line was Arctic Fox, helmed and crewed by Steve and Kathy Collins. Third and final finisher Ali Banks took a standing ovation from the balcony on crossing the line in Windrush after 4 hours 25 minutes. All competitors deserve congratulations for their tremendous effort, but the three finishers deserve medals for tenacity and endurance, and Ali deserves a gold one for enduring such a long time working alone in a small boat. Let’s hope for more wind (sorry, any wind) next year.

The winners were:

 Class  Boat Name  Helm  Crew
 Merlin Rocket Pooh  Sel Shah  Ben Marshall 
 Solo Windrush  Alastair Banks 
 Handicap Arctic Fox  Steve Collins  Kathy Collins 
 Enterprise No finishers 

Full results can be found by clicking this link: Race Results

Photo Key (Top to Bottom):

1. Steve and Kathy Collins accepting the Spring Long Distance Handicap Plate from Kingston’s Mayor, Councillor Mary Heathcote

Report by Andy Cuckson

Best Day of the Season Yet

posted 6 May 2013, 03:00 by Graham Morley

Best day of the season yet  -  Race Report 28-4-2013

The Sunday afternoon of 28 April 2013 offered only shifting light breezes from the west to south west, with the usual Minima problem of dead zones in the lee of trees, but the weather was bright and mild enough to tempt seven established helms onto the water. And Enterprise sailors found themselves in the relatively novel position of getting crew with no problem at all, thanks to the results of Steve and Kathy Collins’ membership and sail training drive.

Solo and Merlin Rocket classes were both a ‘one horse race’, with most of the usual starters either being on holiday or in one case helming an Enterprise. Rather than being disappointing, it gave a lot of interest, as the ‘race’ appeared to be between these two boats and the leading Enterprise, all staying fairly close together, with the rest of the fleet trailing about a lap behind at the finish.

With a very positive start, the solitary Merlin Pooh, helmed by Sel Shah with Ben Marshall crewing, almost left the fleet standing. But as they say, ‘It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings!’, and minutes later, skilful sailing about a quarter of the way up the course saw Alanah, helmed by Alex Cane, pass Pooh with ease close to the Surrey bank, while John Kemp in his Solo Over Trick did precisely the same (and at the same time) on Pooh’s starboard, despite the stream. Such tests of skill as well as the speed possible in each class of boat characterised the remainder of the race, as the three boats all increased their lead over the rest of the fleet while each alternately lost and regained position relative to each other. This novice took a few object lessons on technique as the Race Officer pointed out what the three leaders were doing on the lower part of the course.

Also notable was the large proportion of new members on the water and in the race. Ji Hoon, Kun Woo and Keith Black all crewed in Enterprises, while Keith also went canoeing with partner Julie Hensler earlier in the day. At the club house and on the water, Minima was busy all afternoon with new and prospective members trying out canoeing, kayaking and dinghy sailing. Novice and improver coaching was provided by Alex Cane, Rob Mayley and Kathy and Steve Collins.

Altogether it was a really good Sunday at the club, with excellent sailing and lots of people coming and going. Pleasant weather too, although it did cool towards the end of the afternoon – and the heat was switched back on in the club room! The season is now well under way.

The day’s winners:-
  • Class Boat Helm Crew
  • Enterprise Alanah Alex Cane Ji Hoon
  • Merlin Pooh Sel Shah Ben Marshall
  • Solo Over Trick John Kemp
Your intrepid roving reporter
Andy Cuckson

(All photos by the author)


First sail / swim of the season!

posted 5 Apr 2013, 00:25 by Graham Morley   [ updated 5 Apr 2013, 07:03 ]

After two weeks of false starts and non-starts the sailing season finally got underway on Easter Sunday, a fortnight behind schedule.

Conditions were miserable on Easter Sunday and pretty foul on the Monday, although with some entertaining moments.

Sunday's David Langley Commemoration trophy was won by Sel Shah, crewed by Ben Marshall in his boat Pooh, with the Solos taking second and third helmed by Alistair Banks and John Metzner respectively. Erica Bishop had a rare outing in a Solo, coming fourth. Sel won all three races.

I am told the wind was barely enough to get round, but cold enough to cause Steve Collins and Andy Cuckson to retire because their crews, new members Yeung Ho and Jay Ho (excuse spelling, can't read Steve's writing) were not comfortable.

It is encouraging to see Sel and Ali taking the honours -- makes a change from the usual suspects, one of whom of course, Ben Marshall, was selflessly crewing Sel to victory.

Most people are content with sailing one day out of two at Easter, but the irrepressible Ms Shah was back for more on Monday, which was no warmer but much windier.

The north-easter acquired a vicious gusty streak overnight which first claimed Paul Seamen who was solo in his Merlin, then upended John Wilkey's Merlin (crewed by Erica Bishop) and your correspondent's Enterprise more or less with the same puff.

This happened right in front of the club house, obviously for the benefit of spectators, and within yards of the finish line, and John and Erica managed to drift over in a capsized state to win the first race. I am sure there is something in the rules about this. Sadly the stream carried the Bald Eagle away before we could achieve the same result.

My crew Alex rather cleverly managed to clamber onto the centreboard and step from there directly onto the bank without getting much more than her ankles wet. Her helm was meanwhile regretting his lack of a wet or dry suit, although I can report that the Thames is probably a bit warmer than the air at present. Suspiciously warm, in fact.

The launch was with us instantly, manned by Graham Morley and Rob Mayley, who said something slightly hurtful about staying close to likely customers, which I affected to ignore.

While this was going on Sel and Ben were staying more or less upright, shipping a bit of water now and then, as was David Cane crewed by son Alex in their Enterprise Alannah. The third Ent, Andy Cuckson's Jackdaw (the boat formerly known as Frolic) had retired with a broken tiller extension ... probably missing her long-time owner Les Rowlandson. Tragically Sel and Ben finished prematurely, and were deemed to have retired, although this seems to have been a misunderstanding.

The second race started with just three boats, Sel and John Wilkey's two Merlins and the indomitable Alannah, and once again John Wilkey very considerately stacked his boat right opposite the clubhouse. It was a sort of whipsaw double-flick with a near-miss followed by a near-recovery which piled Red Admiral briskly into the bank and over, one of the better capsizes I have seen, certainly from the most comfortable vantage point ever, thanks to the new panoramic windows.

If one boat capsized then this would be decisive, so it became a contest where survival was more important than speed. In the event Sel won the race, after near constant excitements, and Alannah came in second despite spending quite long periods with the sails thrashing from side to side as the gusts shifted, which gave David the cup. It was pretty scary just to watch, and both plucky competitors got a well-earned round of applause from the capacity crowd, some of who actually dragged themselves down from the bar for the purpose.

And so begins 2013. Let us hope it warms up eventually.


David Langley Trophy (Sunday)
  1. Sel Sha and Ben Marshall - Merlin
  2. Ali Banks - Solo
  3. John Metzner - Solo
Gordon's Goblet (pursuit, Monday)
  1. David and Alex Cane - Enterprise
  2. Sel Shah and Ben Marshall

By John Forbes.
(Photos by Anne Mayley)

Nautical Quiz - 2012

posted 30 Dec 2012, 00:27 by Graham Morley   [ updated 30 Dec 2012, 00:28 ]

Owing to the vicious speed of the stream, as well as high water, the 2012 Christmas Fun Race was cancelled, and Race Officer Steve Collins devised a Nautical Quiz instead.

He announced that it was the first time in recorded Minima history that a race had been cancelled without anyone complaining.

The groups of questions fell under headings including Dinghy Sailing, Shape Recognition Signals, Flags used in Racing, Sound Signals and British Naval History. 

Out of the four competing teams, the winners were David Cane, Erica Bishop, Joe Murphy and Les Rowlandson. They share the first prize of a Two Ronnies DVD. Should be fun working that out!

Shortly afterwards, members retired to the Cammasan Chinese restaurant, where all those attending seemed to find the food very good. This was followed by a late session at the Minima bar.

(By Andy Cuckson)

Minima Regatta - 2012

posted 26 Sep 2012, 23:33 by Graham Morley   [ updated 26 Sep 2012, 23:33 ]

Minima’s annual regatta at the weekend, sponsored by TWM solicitors for the sixth consecutive year, had everything a good sailing  meeting needs, except maybe a decent wind.

But a respectable turnout of 30 craft from neighbouring clubs up and down river from Kingston had a fair amount of fun puzzling out the shifts and eddies of what was basically a light south-westerly, modified to bits by the excessively tall poplars lining the Thames around the eastern edge of Hampton Court Home Park. It did give enough energy to one of the Thames Raters for it to severely customise Turks’ flagpole at Townend Pier, mind you we were always assured they were only there temporarily.

The event was distinguished by a mass of Merlins, with no fewer than 14 dinghies appearing for the three races on Saturday and Sunday. Three were current or former boats of Minima Merlin maestro  Ben Marshall, who was joined by many of his friends from Thames Sailing Club, where he is also a member, however none were a match for Mike Stephens from Tamesis Club, who are pretty much the Merlin specialists in this neck of the river. It is Tammy’s regatta next week, as Mike reminded us in his gracious speech of thanks, congratulating Minima on its beautiful new-look clubhouse.

For apart from sailing in conditions it would flatter to call challenging, the real purpose of this year’s gathering was for Minima to show off its gloriously revamped premises, courtesy of a handsome Olympic legacy grant from Sport England, and a lot of hard work by volunteers led by Brian Cheetham. Hon Sec Denise Norman has been tutoring nearby clubs in the black arts of grant application forms, although they will be doing well if they can match Minima’s ability to motivate (some of) its members to muck in.

The club is transformed upstairs and down, now lighter and airy and open to the views across the Thames, also praised by Kingston Mayor Mary Heathcote OBE, who recalled Minima’s role hosting the town’s beacon lighting party for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: altogether a historic year for the club. The new more welcoming and open look seems to be bearing fruit already in increased membership interest, and it will be a great and lasting Olympic benefit if we get more sailors enjoying the dubious delights of fluky south-westerlies on the river.

Races were not amazingly exciting, the conditions tended to spread fields out, and generally followed the form book, although Minima’s young sailing secretary Ali Banks had the pleasure of announcing a personal triumph when he took the Solo Hand trophy ahead of the club’s infinitely more experienced two Johns, Metzner and Kemp. The slightly macabre Hand is supposed to be a cast of Sir Francis Chichester’s, and was previously won by dinghy legend Jack Holt himself.

Winners took home bottles of bubbly from TWM, and gold medals from the RYA, celebrating the Olympic Year.

Results (Minima unless stated)

A Rater: Martin Hunter, Jacques Hunter, Rodger Stafford, Sue Williams (Thames SC)
Enterprise: Alan Jales, Heather Elwin. Merlin: Mike Stevens, Jo Lock (Tamesis Club)
Solo: Ali Banks. Handicap: Tom Hill, Luke Crawford (National 12, Twickenham)

Photo Credits

FLYING SOLO: Ali Banks shows why he won at Minima on Sunday (Picture: Peter Halligan)
POLISHED PERFORMANCE: Flinkdink’s varnish was nearly as smooth as Mike Stephens’s speech of thanks at Minima (Picture: Peter Halligan)

John Forbes.

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