At the start of our 2018 Sailing Season we have much to celebrate at Queen Mary SC. While the end of 2017 was overshadowed by an extreme drought, the like of which we have not seen for at least 10 years, our QM team fought valiantly to keep the club running, with tug-of-war teams to launch and recover boats, repositioning pontoons daily, high pressure pumps moving silt, and even the help of the local Sunbury Fire Brigade, the whole QM team worked hard to level the shingle and maintain operations.
After a successful Laser Masters Championship at the end of Nov 17, spread over 2 days for 60-70 boats, we very reluctantly decided that launching and recovering 300 boats in one day for the Bloody Mary would not be a safe proposition. We learnt from Thames Water that the lake was down by some 19 million tons of water, and, with the main outlet pump house out of action, the reservoir would be non-operational for 6-8 weeks for repairs. Then the rains came, then the storms came, then the Thames flowed again from mid Dec, and the reservoir started to fill again, first 20cm a day, then 40cm, and the water kept coming, and no outflow was pivotal. Now I am delighted to report we are back to full operational water level! All winches and lifts are working normally, thanks to herculean efforts by our QM team after the recent violent storms.. We are ready for the new season, and with over £25k of course bookings already on the books for 2018, the club is in good shape. In answer to the inevitable question: if we ignore storms and extensive recovery work, finally on the 6th Jan could we have run the Bloody Mary after all? The answer is a definite maybe. However, we absolutely could not take chances on safety with one of Europe’s most prestigious and largest inland races, with long lead times, travel plans, associated costs, and the huge commitment needed from our volunteers and staff. So, let me be one of the first to announce that January 12th 2019 is the 45th Bloody Mary, and a very special event it will be too.
There have, as ever, been notable achievements for sailors, windsurfers, and staff in 2017, too many to list fully here, but here is a taste of what people have been doing: In International and National Events, Toby Davey was part of the B2 Division winning team at Blind Sailing World Championships in Canada; over 20 young sailors from QM and Littleton competed at the 2017 National Schools Sailing Regatta; Lizzie Foreman, was selected as part of 4-person Vendée 2020 Vision Globe final selection squad; Emily-Jane Eldred, won silver medal in Techno class windsurfing at RYA Youth Nationals; Roger and Liz Pescod flew the QM flag in Japan at the Tasar World Championships. Meanwhile our home achievements included a Laser Masters, with 60 boats launched and recovered in very tricky launching conditions, an inspiring onshore session with Radial Olympian Xu Lijia and music from Tony Woods - a great event from Gareth Edwards and our Laser fleet. We hosted 120 at our first ‘London Calling’ Student Windsurfing Association event AKA ‘The Soggy Cockney’, welcomed schools from 32 London boroughs at our second year of the London Youth Games, and celebrated QM Sailability’s 20th Birthday with a visit from HRH the Princess Royal. Members have also continued to enjoy social sailing trips home and abroad: Saturday Club went to UKSA, and sailors and windsurfers to Sardinia and Vassiliki. A sailing trip to Lemnos in September 2018 is already in the air. As we continue to work to get more people out on the water enjoying our sport and all it has to offer, QM has launched an education challenge to get young people learning about plastic and to encourage them to get sailing - more at www.plasticbottleboatchallenge.com. The Sailing School had an incredible 2017 - it was great to see over 600 kids on summer courses enjoying 3000 days of on water fun, and we’re looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces in 2018. New fun on the water is not just for kids - we are delighted that Paul Adams is now one of the first foiling windsurf instructors in the UK and we look forward to seeing this discipline develop on our water in the same way we watched some of the early International Moth foilers hone their skills here.
After another year of Club racing, with some great competition all the way through the fleets and results going to the wire, a vast number of splendid trophies and other awards were presented at our annual Christmas prize giving lunch. A big thank you to our Race Officers and Assistants who by volunteering, make it possible for Club Racing to continue for everyone. New recruits to our race management team are always welcome and much appreciated. By the way, I shall be joining this happy band, coming from the more relaxed and RO duties of Sailability and Saturday Club - no more ‘After you Claude’. We provide a free RYA approved RO training course followed by on water mentoring by an experienced RO, so 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, Paul, Janet, Steph, Caroline 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 stunning start to bookings in 2018, totalling some 91 bookings has been achieved by hard work and careful management by our QM staff.
We also benefit from the dedication and multiple skills of our maintenance staff, led by Bosun, Wayne together with Kevin and Adam. The severe drought has really tested Wayne and his team - they have worked tirelessly to keep the waterfront and pontoons open and have also invented the new ‘high pressure pumping’ arrangement which will keep the lifts working and clear of silting and shingle this year. Wayne’s work maintaining the fabric of the club house, grounds and equipment continues; this 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. I am aware that the new pontoons, whilst very successful this year, do not solve all QM's launching issues, but we can feel pleased these pontoons are better and more robust than any before, and have made it possible for less physically able sailors to launch on the West side more safely and enjoy the same access to our water that the rest of us expect. On the club operations front we also go into 2018 with a new Boiler and a new Cold Water Booster system; these are exciting times, with a reliable hot shower at the end of your day’s sailing. You will have seen the activity down near road entrance: our Landlords, Thames Water, plan to increase QM site security with new electric gates, which also includes a new membership system for us - terrific. Please look out for notices as we change over to new membership swipe cards, which will improve all our access to the club, replacing the temperamental number plate recognition system, as well as allowing us to better understand our Club and the way people use it.
Blue Wave catering continues to provide starving sailors with good food and liquid refreshment before and after sailing, and to serve us fortifying meals at social events such as the Christmas prize giving lunch and our volunteer thank you suppers. Catering at sailing clubs is a difficult task, and 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 again Blue Wave, you’re great.
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, from the RNLI, is on 31st January. On 7th March is an invaluable rules advisor talk given by our former Commodore and rules expert, Chris Simon. Finally, a wild and unruly Laser evening event (as always) on 28th March. I look forward to seeing you at some of these Wednesday evenings.
In summary, we must congratulate the whole QM team once again for their efforts in keeping club operations going right up to the end of the year. However, the new season is upon us now, and it’s also going to be a busy 2018 with a potential double Guinness World Record on the cards. First is the Plastic Bottle Boat Challenge: our club’s invitation to local schools, and schools all over the world, to unite in a plastic bottle recycling and education project. Second up is the mighty Bart’s Bash now in its 5th edition - this year we will attempt to break the record set in 2014, so if there is one race you do this year save the date, Sunday 16th September. More immediately, The Club Frostbite series is already underway, with two races done already - madness! I can tell you the new piping-hot showers have been much appreciated. The ‘London Calling’ Student windsurfing meeting is 17/18th Feb, always a very lively bunch, and our first big open event, on 24/25th Feb, is the mighty RS EOS Meeting, which is open to all RS classes, serious racing indeed.
Enjoy your sailing at Queen Mary Sailing Club everyone, 2018 is going to be a great year.
Queen Mary Sailing Club