Birds at Datchet….!!

For the last two Sundays we have seen the Club happily beseiged by Twitchers – about 50 car loads each weekend, all bearing cameras and simply huge telephoto lenses….

After all the excitement of the Manx Shearwater earlier in the year, do you want to know what all the fun is about this time?  A very rare Pipit…..

Click here to see ours….



DWSC Winter Regatta … And Christmas Lunch…!!

Surprise, Surprise – a brilliant blue sky day !!  We all went afloat rather over dressed as it turns out – we had up to eleven degrees!! Despite the closeness to Christmas, we had six FFs racing today.  The Admiral is confined to his bathroom, and the VC to his bed. We did though see Steve Bell in 3827, plus most of the regular racers!

The Club decided to make it the Winter Regatta followed by Christmas lunch!  Sorry to be a kill joy, but speaking only for myself I can’t get properly excited by single handicap starts….with Cats and Optimists… around a “P” course, with the gate 3/4 of the way up the beat  – and the reach and run were difficult to set and turned out to be a bit straight, so we sailed triangles more or less.  Oh dear – sorry!!

The mixed fleet is very problematic…. i.e. new hazards!!…  and amongst other stories we got carried up a reach by a couple of well meaning Hurricane’s when lying second FF, so we were a bit miffed – mainly I find that the race format of which the end is unknown (until the ‘S’ goes up)  is a bit uninspiring somehow. It’s like musical chairs games at school – you go round and round till the music stops – and then, well, that’s it!!  Anyway – enough moaning about all that !!  We had a good time in the sun,  with great friends – plus terrific news, Mark and Toby won the regatta !! FF’s got 1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 12th out of 41 starters!!   All in all, the FFs showed very well – you can see the results by clicking here.

Talking of starters, at lunch, where the quantities were ginormous – the Commodore in his Santa Hat was keen to remind us that there’s racing on 23rd, 30th and 31st…. Hurrah!!

Race Report – Sunday 15th July…..

Well, the Nationals are nearly here !!  Datchet today was a lovely summer day – blue skies and sunshine (for a change!) and 7-10 kn of breeze.  Really very good and we had nine boats on the slip this morning and that’s without The Humes (vacation I think), Mark (at NSSA with Matt) and Chris McLaughlin’s new boat is still outside the Chandlers.

It’s a bit disappointing, but we had a very short course laid by the PRO using about 20% of the reservoir.  On a gorgeous day like that, it’s a pity not to use the empty acres. The beats and the top reach were especially short – all they had to do was move SW down the lake where it is much wider and probably laid the course to starboard with some long reaches right up the reservoir.

We had a short line, and managed to get ourselves all busy with it.  The fleet was pretty tightly packed and in race one we all fair shot up the beat and about 7 of us reached th top mark more or less at once!!  It got a bit busy and Howard and Richard found themselves doing turns after an incident with Fleet Captain Hanson.  The fleet shot out along the reach with John and Helen just leading from the Linders and the main pack.  Hopward and Richard had a bit of catching up to do obviously (!), and at the gybe mark took to the left and made about 4 places down that reach putting them in third – momentarily!!  The beats were pretty hard to pick today – even Admiral Firth got just one right out of 6 !! There really was lots of overtaking going on – Steve and Simon sailed superbly into third, leaving the rest of us eating wake!!  At the finish I think it was Ian and James, from John and Helen, Steve and Simon then Richard and Howard.

Race two saw a tad more bias on the line, and we all made for the pin.  Result – tool crush !!  A couple of teams had to gybe around and try again – so a fair amount of mayhem and a RIB driver who was far too close!  In this race, John and Helen, Ian and James steadily pulled out to have their own little race – which Ian and James won in the end. There was a whole stack going on behind. Andy and Agness are going ever faster in 3911, yet in this second race there was a bit of calamity at the top mark I think – and they headed for shore. Howard and Richard came in third, but there was a right old scrap during the final reach for fourth between Mervyn/Julien and The Admiral – won admirably by Mervyn and Julien !!!  The Shawyers at it again!!

Race Report – Easter Sunday !!

There was a great weather forecast – strong breezes!!… but that was for Monday   😦

Instead at Datchet we had a nice gentle westerly probably around 6-10mph – but cracking good racing!  Ten flying fifteens on the slip, including John Watson’s fabulous woody. Brett decided to “do” wheel bearings, so that was him out of play. A net nine boats faced some pretty serious racing.

The PRO had set a handy sized course, using the bulk of the lake. The wing mark wasn’t well placed, but we still knew we’d been out for a good sail.  After one false start from the committee boat, the FF’s went out of the gate on the third sequence.  Race one kicked off with the bulk of the fleet fancying the pin end very strongly. Steve and Simon executed a very good pin end flyer and pretty much crossed the whole fleet on port. The rest of us charged out of the bottom half of the line – all with a bit of an urge to go right. Did it occur to you that Mark and MattFirth ought have the family name “Walker” as between them they weigh the same as a box of crisps…. anyway, they steamed away up the left and had fabulous boat speed in the light airs. Carved out a huge lead which they held till the finish. There was stacks going on behind them though. The battle for 2nd and 3rd was a constant tussle between The Admiral and the VC, and Howard and Richard. I can’t count the number of times places were changed – then John and Helen went sharply right on the second beat and leapt straight from fourth into second. John says it was their “DFL Strategy”….  when asked , the ‘L’ stands for last, and you can work the rest out yourself!!  Anyway, John and Helen consolidated that, but the battle for third was just superb. At the last wing mark, Mike and Phil rounded third, with Howard and Richard really hard on their heels – and it was a fine spinnaker reach to the finish. Generous blasts of air were sweeping across the reach and 3934 was inching up to windward – there was nothing in it and only a few feet abeam. Then one super little puff, a tweak and a pull aboard 3934 and Howard/Richard were through into third – in the nick of time too – just five seconds in it at the finish line….

For race two, there was quite a bit going on at the start. I think maybe the Millars had been over, but in the results John/Helen were given OCS. (might be wrong!) Bit of aggressive push-over was at the heart of that – tut tut!!!  The PRO had announced for two laps only, so we were off. Blow me down, Mike and Phil ran a superb first beat and slipped around in the lead.  Plenty of chasers though including John/Helen and Howard/Richard. These three boats pulled away from the pack and I must say that Mike/Phil were sailing really well given that Phil was still rumbling about the Boat Race fiasco on Saturday. The beats were quite tricky and once again there was a fair bit of shift picking place changing going on. It seemed that the right hand side was the way to go, but it seemed awfully hard when you got over there. Anyway, popping up the last beat, Howard/Richard picked the inside of the curve and found themselves just ahead of John/Helen and Mike/Phil.  It was really horribly, nail bitingly close though. Super aggressive John, pushed Richard and Howard up the left of the leg – leaving Mike/Phil to choose their own course. Very dangerous stuff!!!  Maybe there was more breeze out left though, and Mike/Phil slipped back a bit – seemed to be an awful lot of noise coming from the boat – not about the rowing umpire I don’t think. The odd double gybe seemed to feature in there somewhere. Phil just doesn’t realise how hard it is at the back of the boat – said Mike in the bar afterwards!!

Anyway, John/Helen set about closing that gap. It was a tense leg the full length of the lake.  Both teams ended up way to the left of the mark, and suddenly Howard called the gybe, slung in another quickie at the mark – and they were gone for first. (Nothing tough about double gybes, Phil!!?!)  There was about 8 seconds in it, but John/Helen had to face an OCS ruling – boo!!  So Mike/Phil came in second after all, the Wrights came third and the Millars fourth.

Hot stuff…. and Great boat-on-boat Racing.


The DWSC Club Survey…..

Hopefully you have all replied to the online Club Survey – have you??  Well, actually, I don’t think you all have…..

I checked in with the Club Office after racing on Sunday.  Usually the guidance is that surveys of this kind do well if they get a 3-5% response rate.  This survey, the first I can remember in a decade, has almost a quarter of Club Members replying.  So, for sure, the responses to the survey will gain significant credibility with Club Management.

Is there anything to be alarmed about??  Well, the Flying Fifteen fleet has had 17 responses – out of 135 replies…..  For Pete’s sake, the so called “Cat Fleet” (which is just a menagerie of about 6 classes) has got 26 votes in and is the largest responding fleet.  So, “COME ON!!!”    The Survey  is not restricted to helms or owners, so we should have two votes coming in per boat, so where are you all?  If you have done yours, actively check that your sailing partner has also completed theirs – otherwise we might get what we do not wish for…..

It’s all very well being the strongest fleet in the club, but this is a survey of Members – distinctly different I suggest to “Members who Race Regularly”.  Half the votes cast have come in from just 4 classes – the Cat Fleet (Menagerie) has 26 votes, Flying Fifteens have 17, then about 20 votes are spread over RS100 and Lasers.  About 70 votes have come in from one-off classes – and reflect the very non-class nature of our Club. Yes – the Albacore has voted…!!!   The Menagerie Handicap Fleets have the majority here and are in danger of setting the agenda.  I’d suggest that we need to get of the order of 30 Flying Fifteen votes cast quickly before the survey ends – around double the votes we have already cast. So, come on Guys – get moving. The survey takes 3 minutes max to fill in – two votes per boat ASAP. The survey closes soon….

So what might we find happening not in the direction that we might think appropriate or encouraging Class Racing??

Try this to start…. (Double click on graphs to enlarge them for easier viewing)

Note the depth of responses on whether the Club should run pursuits and “special” courses on Sundays. I see this as an agenda against Fleets, actually.  This is for people who normally have nobody to race against because of the Class of boat they decided to buy.  ….  Note that 10am starts also had their opinion tested….. Winter Training Talks also got a lot of support.

The strength of vote for Sunday afternoon racing is interesting as generally when it is offered by the race team on a Sunday, only tiny numbers turn out. However, what we must consider here is that the bulk of people replying to this survey hardly ever go out racing anyway. I don’t know how the Club can filter opinion for that hard fact – Datchet Race Numbers outside the number of members racing Flying Fifteens is decidedly flakey.

Next possible area which might surprise you, given that 95% of responses are not form keelboat sailors – the importance of Pontoons…

Interesting, eh?  Important to our Planned Capex as a Club….

What needs upgrading in our Facilities.?? Possibly no surprises, but see what you think….

What about the important  income generators???  For myself, I get a very strong feeling that the Club is set up not for the benefit of its members, but for the benefit of its Open Meeting Visitors. I am pretty heartily sick of being crammed into tiny race courses, having to fight for somewhere to park your boat (let alone cars), and queuing out the door for a plate of Chips….  But take a look at what the members who have voted think about Income Generators…

There’s an interesting degree of support for Class Association training though….

So – I think you get a sense that important opinions are being voiced here. The answers too are sufficiently complex that they can be spun by interest groups – so we had better be ready to spin ours too…. Vote NOW please – don’t put it off….

Notes from the Sailing Committee….

From our Fleet Captain!!!

Last night I attended the Datchet Sailing Club, Sailing committee meeting please see below my notes regarding anything of interest for the Flying Fifteen fleet.  Please put the Event dates in your diary

  • The club has reminded the rescue boats to keep out of the way of starting boats and the club will remind the rescue boats in the future
  • On the Datchet water show is 28th and 29th April. Are you available to demo sail or help out?  It’s a great way to get more members.  In addition please take promotional leaflets when at the club on Sunday and get the flyers out to where you work etc.      Please go onto the club website for more info and volunteer
  • Forthcoming events:- Jubilee Weekend , 2nd June. Plans to have an event this weekend more details to    follow (some of the 15 fleet will be at the southern championships)

    – June 24th will be the summer regatta on the Sunday only

    – 29th 30th September Will be the club championships – please put in your diaries

    – Christmas lunch / pudding race will be on the 16th Dec.

  • A discussion regarding new members and getting them racing was raised (by the FF Fleet). The club is already doing this with a number of new sailors already crewing for club members. An idea for crew notice board area to put names up was suggested and on the website  Sam has taken as an action.
  • The club agreed that the flying fifteens can move the fenders from the old pontoon to the new one. Mike. (Can you action?)Don’t forget the clocks change this weekend. :-))  Its going to be a hot one see you Sunday