Erith Yacht Club
The finest sailing water on the tidal Thames
Erith Yacht Club
Sunny, sun cream protection factor 30
Last Sunday 16 July 2006 the Bosun Open was held in the Erith waters for the first time. The Bosun Open is a joint event of the Greenwich and Erith Yacht Clubs hosted alternately by the two clubs since 2005.
A total of twelve teams turned up, one team more than previous year when the race took place in Greenwich, making it a very satisfactory turnout for the Erith Yacht Club. Competitors arrived around 11.30 and registered at the club ship Folgefonn. At registration some did not remember their sail number. In total seven teams were from Greenwich and five from Erith. Erith Yacht Club distinguished itself for the club with juniors among the teams as even two were racing, Peter Reeves and Julian Bates. Other juniors were in the Thamesmead YMCA rescue boat supervised by an adult.
The race officer briefing was held on the deck of the Folgefonn at 12.30. Principle Race Officer, Graham Campbell, explained competitors the course to sail, i.e. one triangle and one sausage around three big orange inflatable buoys. The buoys just got the day before brand new chains.
The Bosun is a tough, stable 14 ft dinghy, easy to operate, fast enough to be rewarding to sail and attract skilled dinghy sailors and to have stability suitable for training and encouraging learners. Bosuns don't leak, even though race officers saw one competitor bailing water out.
Originally the Bosuns were purchased from the Royal Navy for little money by the different sailing clubs of the area, as it is an ideal boat for the tidal Thames water. Only approximately 30-40 Bosuns exist in total in this area of Kent.
Two races were sailed of approximately 60 minutes duration each. No passing commercial vessels disturbed the race. Both races were started from the committee boat near the barges moored on the west side of the club. At the start most boats were in a nice line on starboard tack. Both starts were clear starts. The winners from last year's Bosun Open made a promising start at the first race. Peter Reeves and Jeremy Michell made a more risky start on port tack at the second race, but got luckily away with it.
For good reasons the Erith Yacht Club proudly calls herself the finest sailing waters in the tidal Thames. Erith Yacht Club attracts every year dinghy sailors even from far away who wants to put their abilities at test.
The tide made quite an impact on the different legs of the course making everything more interesting. The initial leg was a beat against tide and wind. Sailing too much towards the centre of the river where the tide was stronger was not a good strategy. The winning strategy was to make very short tacks. On the leeward leg at the second buoy, called the "gybe mark" on the Essex side, some competitors were swept by the tide too much ahead that they to sail back to pass the mark.
From the committee boat one could observe many more mistakes the competitors were doing. There was one Bosun not rigged properly as the main sail did not have a nice shape and the boom was dropping down. Others were not roll tacking well, i.e. making a nice balanced tack. Some other sailors did not keep the boat flat and this was making them go sideways.
Six out of eight participants to last year's regional race officer course were present at the race. This means that race officers observed also silently some breaches of sailing rules. Race committee saw one port-tack boat not giving way to starboard tacked boats at the start of the second race. Later a boat was seen entering the mooring area, which was forbidden under the sailing instructions and one who touched the mark. Safety boats were immediately informed in case anybody witnessed their 360-degree penalty turn once clear. As a positive note a boat was observed who correctly gave room to an inside boat to round a mark.
At 17.30 a prize giving ceremony concluded the long day. It was also a good moment to thank heartily all the EYC members for their fantastic help to make this entire event happen so well.
Race Officer ashore: Baz Elmes
Bar: Iain Buckland, Sarah Taylor, and Ann Finck
Packed lunches: Jean Cromptom
Sailors have now another year ahead to practice and practice the roll tack. During the long winter months it will be possible to participate in the EYC training sessions, to review the rules of racing, to study the film and the photos and to learn from ones own mistakes. The race committee may also well have some areas for improvement. The sailing instructions need some updates and the forms some reviewing in view of the next race. To sum up at the Erith Yacht Club sailing academy things never stop.
See you in Greenwich next year.
EYC race officer.