As membership renewals kick in and we look forward to 2017, a new season and new racing rules, I'd like to offer you a brief(ish) catch up on the past year at QMSC. Bookended by two very different Bloody Marys, 2016 had many of the familiar ingredients of past years with some new additions to keep us all on our toes.
After two windy ones, the 44th Bloody Mary, on 7 January 2017, offered a different challenge to the Race Committee and competitors as the expected light airs duly presented themselves on the day, unaccompanied, much to our relief, by the forecast fog. Despite the weather, the total of 287 entries is the highest for three years, and of these 244 boats took to the reservoir, producing the glorious sight I look forward to every January. If you were not lucky enough to be at the Club that day, do take a look at Sportography's photos, via our Bloody Mary website or Sportography, for a taste of the day. As the fleet glided around the reservoir it was great to see the Toppers holding their own, cheered on from the shore, and fighting off the pursuing classes almost to the end. And we felt the delight of the eventual winners, father and son Firefly team Alex and Tom Davey, who came along for the experience and went home with the top prize.
A very big thank you to everyone at the Club who contributed to the success of the event, and congratulations to all who took part, especially to our QM sailors. It is always special to call our own to the prizegiving rostrum, and this year I had the pleasure of presenting two fleet prizes to familiar faces - Richard Gray and Jon Dyas in their RS400, and QM Junior Club Champion, Magnus Handley, in his Laser Radial - together with two of the perpetual trophies: the First QM Helm trophy to new member Toby Ayre and the allcomers Sailability trophy to Nev Millard. After several years with no Sailability entries I was pleased to see Nev representing QM Sailability; he will also receive the QM Sailability Helm trophy for his 42nd place finish.
Large numbers on the water were not confined to the Bloody Mary. On 11/12 June 2016, the London Youth Games Sailing edition came to QM for the first time. Welcoming young sailors, often quite new to the sport, to represent the 32 London boroughs in a weekend of competitive sailing, this London wide event is something we look forward to seeing again in 2017 as an excellent initiative to encourage more young people into sailing and, of course, to introduce them and their supporters to QMSC. On 18 June, the water was full of SUPers for a one-off SUPer Mile Guinness Record-breaking charitable event and, again, we were pleased to see so many new faces trying SUPing for the first time at QM.
Club racing also continues to garner high turnouts. Wednesday evenings, with 104 boats entered over the 23 race series, saw some excellent and highly competitive racing with the final places going, once again, to the wire on the last evening. We were delighted to welcome Danny Chinery to the prizegiving supper to present the Kenneth Chinery cup in its 40th year to our winners, Andy and Jill Peters in their RS200. QM racers are a hardy bunch, ready to race throughout the year in pretty much any conditions, witness a crowded start line of 52 boats on a cold and blustery November Sunday for the rescheduled Club Championships. Congratulations to our Club Champions 2016, Howard Farbrother and Louise Hosken.
QM Lasers continue to impress with regular big Club turnouts and high traveller numbers too. Topping 30 boats on some chilly Sundays and making the most of the new BIG Sundays and regular post race training, they made their mark further afield, scooping top club for QM at the Nationals together with 6th overall and first master for Fleet Captain Tony Woods, whilst Tim Law was 2nd overall at the Laser Masters Nationals. Many other QM names also featured high in results at home and abroad.
The Lasers are not alone in their success as Liz & Roger Pescod, secured 4th overall in the Tasar Nationals together with the Ladies Cup for Liz. Our RS200 fleet is growing whilst the QM RS400s continue to make their mark at home and abroad, with a great Club fleet showing at the Eurocup in Travemünde; congratulations to David and Rebecca Brown in particular on their 2nd overall. Our ex RS400 fleet captain, Max Tosetti, now national fleet chairman, managed not only a regular presence at open events but also to post the highest number of Club races in a 400 in 2016.
Our younger dinghy and windsurf sailors also continue to flourish. We see eight to ten Team 15 windsurfers out each Saturday morning and good performances in inter-club events and other national events. Several young windsurfers, including Mia, Rory and Electra have qualified for the zone squad while Emily-Jane and Millie have qualified for the national squad. Young sailors have earned places in the dinghy squads too, including Coco Barrett in the Topper national squad, Bjorn Handley in the 4.2 Topper national squad and Charlie Close in the Topper zone squad. Charlie was recently awarded the Ginger Barron trophy, in its 2nd year, for a junior QM Sailor showing commitment and potential. Our young Laser sailors shone as Leila Moore won the QM Youth Open Laser prize, with Magnus Handley 2nd, both also posting good results in the National Schools Sailing Regatta in Norfolk at which the QM youth team once again performed extremely well across the board. Special thanks to Ed Mallett for giving a week of his time to support the team as on-site manager and to QM staff member Steph Blondell who has done so much for the Youth Group this year, travelling to Norfolk and supporting the team as on water coach, and agreeing to be 2017 NSSA QM team manager. With exciting changes coming in this year to QM youth dinghy sailing, I must also thank all the parent volunteers and particularly David Bithell, Alison Benz and Abigail Huntington for their tireless support.
In this undoubtedly incomplete review of QM achievements over the year I must also congratulate Alexandra Rickham on her magnificent second Bronze paralympic medal in Rio last summer with Niki Birrell. QM Sailability,, which helped nurture Alexandra's talent, celebrates its 20th birthday in 2017 and has made some striking developments over the past year. We welcomed new sailors from Headley Court military rehabilitation centre to the enthusiastic and competitive racing taking place on Thursday afternoons in our six para world sailing class Hansa 303s and we look forward to seeing new faces to follow Alexandra and Nev. Congratulations to Maggie Futcher and David Jillings on their well-deserved shortlisting for the upcoming RYA Sailability Volunteer awards and thank you to all the volunteers who support our disabled sailors.
Saturday Club too is thriving with growing numbers and a continued interest in informal, fun racing, alongside its social sailing. Planned, publicised and run by volunteers, it meets throughout the year, new members are always welcome, and 2017 dates are posted on the Club's website calendar. Please let the office know if you would like to be included in regular Saturday Club email updates.
A plethora of trophies and other awards was presented at our annual Christmas prizegiving lunch, including Club jackets to those Race Officers who have recently completed 10 duties. A big thank you to them and to all our other ROs and Assistants whose volunteer efforts make it possible for Club racing to continue for everyone. New recruits to our race management team are always welcome and much appreciated: we provide a free RYA approved training course followed by on water mentoring by an experienced RO. If you would like to join this essential group of volunteers and help support our Club racing, please let us know.
While many of our activities depend on the volunteer support of our members, we also rely on the continued dedication and expertise of our professional staff, led by Tony, Vicki and Caroline, with Julie, Paul, Greg and Petra in key roles on and off water. As well as the overall Club administration from the office, our staff support all our racing and other club activities, and manage and staff the Sailing School which introduces and encourages people new to sailing and windsurfing and also plays an important role in the financial stability of the Club. A slow start to bookings in 2016 reflected other clubs' experience nationwide and will impact on the Club's end of year financial position, but was mitigated by hard work and careful management by our staff.
We also benefit from the dedication and multiple skills of our maintenance staff, led by Bosun, Wayne. His work maintaining the fabric of the club house, grounds and equipment continues all year round and his team is another key element of the Club without which we would not be able to offer the year round sailing that is one of our principles. This year, with the continued assistance of Vice Commodore Richard Steele's Escargot Marine volunteering, they have also been getting to grips with the new pontoons which were installed this summer. Although there have been the inevitable teething problems, and finding an appropriate fendering solution took a large amount of time, research and hard work, I hope that the benefits of larger, more stable and more robust pontoons are being felt. I am aware that these pontoons, funded by a Sport England grant which was only secured specifically for new pontoons, do not solve all QM's launching issues but I believe they are a step in the right direction. They have stood up to hostile weather conditions better than the older pontoons ever did and have made it possible for less physically able sailors to launch on the West side much more safely and thus enjoy the access to our water that the rest of us expect.
Thyme Lords catering continues to provide hungry sailors with good food and liquid refreshment before and after sailing and to serve us delicious meals at social events such as the Christmas prizegiving lunch and our volunteer thank you suppers. They are also regular prize sponsors of the Bloody Mary. Catering at sailing clubs is a difficult task, subject more than most to the vagaries of the weather, and many clubs struggle to provide the flexible and reliable service that we enjoy. We count ourselves very lucky to have Debbie, Tracy, and their staff looking after us so well - thank you, Thyme Lords.
The coming year promises some great sailing events, details of many of which are already displayed around the Clubhouse and we also have some Winter Wednesday evening talks planned, the first of which, on
1 February, is an invaluable update on the racing rules of sailing 2017-2020, now in force, given by our former Commodore and rules expert, Chris Simon. I look forward to seeing you there.
On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to say once again what a pleasure it is to work with my fellow Flag Officers, Council and other committee members, and our staff and volunteers. It is a privilege to represent the Club and its members and to see the warmth with which visitors comment on the Club and its activities. The esteem in which the Club is held is down to every one of you who takes part as sailor, volunteer, staff or supporter. If you would like to find out more about ways in which you can get involved please get in touch. Thank you to everybody here at Queen Mary SC, and best wishes to you and your families for a happy and fulfilling 2017.
Queen Mary Sailing Club