Barnacle Bill's casual observations from the shore . . . (Aug, 2000 - Sept, 2002)

Barnacle Bill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oldship.gif (2816 bytes)

This page starts from the creation of the website which, at the time, dealt mainly from a local (Northants) viewpoint. This page and the linked pages following now deal with police sailing nationwide and contain the past observations of Barnacle Bill which is merely to appraise you of what happened around Police sailing, who did what (sailing-wise) - and acting as general scuttlebutt.

Use the hyperlinks below to jump to the required date

Go to the entries for August, 2000 Go to the entries for October, 2000
Go to the entries for December, 2000 Go to the entries for February, 2001
Go to the entries for May, 2001 Go to the entries for August/September, 2001
Go to the entries for January, 2002 Go to the entries for May, 2002
Go to the entries for July, 2002 Go to the entries for September, 2002

August, 2000


Oh, to be young again and fit rather than old and creaky. There are times when I feel just like the image above -  half blind and getting dodgy on my legs. But it doesn't mean I can no longer enjoy sailing.

Believe me, I feel I'm out there on the water with you. Reaching, running, capsizing . . . .



Talking of which, in my official capacity as Race Officer for this year's regattas, I've been watching from the shore to see how best to get the boats off to a good start.

The first thing is to have a decent (i.e., water resistant) watch in order to be able to judge the start-time accurately. Teach the crew to use the watch (no mean feat) so that the nut on the end of the tiller (the helmsman) can concentrate on his job of handling the boat while the crew handles the 'countdown'.

Next, once the first preliminary signal for the 'countdown' is given, it strikes me that there is little point in sailing off to the horizon expecting to return to the starting line in good time. Rather you use the intervening time staying close to the start watching how other boats are reacting. The wise ones will be trundling up and down the start line gauging which is the best end of the line to start from.

In nearly every book I've ever read, the author has gone to great pains in pointing out just how important the start is. Races are often won and lost at this point. I'm not saying it's easy - just important.



I had a letter from Len Wilcox recently. He & Iris have been busy getting their house ship-shape. They have joined Ullswater Y.C. and had their Flying Fifteen on the water. The lake is fabulous and the scenery superb. Active participation in sailing has been suspended for a while as, on one of their regular walks through the local countryside (eat your heart out), Iris managed to perform two perfect backward headflips with full twist from the top of a step-stile but in doing so, injured her wrist. This has not only prevented Iris from heaving on the jib sheets but also, to Len's great disappointment, curtailed her use of the paintbrush . . .

Meanwhile, Len is planning to make enquiries of the local force to see what sailing activity there is. Cumbria used to hold their own open force regatta but there just might be the chance of having a little Cumbria v. Northants competition - so watch this space . . .



Phil Osborne has taken to the water in positive fashion this season. He has been sailing a hired Wayfarer so far and is now looking for a similar dinghy to call his own.




October, 2000


How gratifying to see Brits so successful in the Olympics - in particular Sailing. I watched as much as possible. Despite their hyped commentary in most sports, due credit to the BBC for their coverage on Sydney Harbour where the provision of helicopters, country flags on sails, even on-board cameras helped to make it their best coverage yet of the sport. Sailing has never been considered a spectator sport for the uninformed but this did try to redress the balance..

Reading the sailing magazines indicates that some people thought that more time should have been given to the sailing events considering sailing accounted for 27% of Britain's gold medals. I must say it was a business trying to catch the live sailing broadcasts during the night as one could never depend on the time of transmission - but the BBC made up for everything by showing the whole of a ladies' Europe race and of course the final Laser race, which was GRIPPING.

One of the Olympic competitors was a member at Northampton Sailing Club. I can remember being out on Pitsford rezzy several years ago with a number of other single-handers while this very keen individual ran a training session. He shouted at us from a rescue boat while we performed tacks & gybes around close-set buoys in such rapid order that it felt like trying to sail round in the bath. I was shattered at the end of each session. His instruction taught me the importance of practice and more practice. He sailed a Solo (very well) then, but over the ensuing years I came across his name winning national and international events. Seeing him on the TV brought back those memories. His name? Ian Barker and he won the silver medal in the 49er Class. I'm glad that his evident interest, persistence and commitment and essentially his ability finally paid off. It surprises me that the local press never picked up on it despite his local connection.

I managed to tape the couple of complete races. The tactics made absorbing viewing and knowledge of the racing rules could never have been more relevant. If you think you have that knowledge, why not try our 'Racing Quiz' on the Racing/Rules Page.



Currently, it appears to be difficult to obtain information regarding Police sailing events around and about us. Some years ago the Force regularly received a copy of "Gybe-Ho!"; a newsletter published by the Met which gave up-to-date information on numerous dinghy events across the UK. This publication was then circulated locally.

Times have now changed and as the interest in dinghy sailing appears to have diminished, so the participation in police yachting regattas has increased; particularly in the Met. There is still a newsletter produced by the Metropolitan Police Sailing Club (now called "Jibe Ho!!") and this deals mainly with yachts but there is still some dinghy input. They have recently purchased two new Starlight 35 yachts to replace the two yachts which have done sterling service over many years and are now becoming tired and costly to maintain. The yachts are based on the Hamble at Mercury Yacht Harbour where many of their members keep their boats, large and small. It seems a long way from the Serpentine...

For many years now 'Jibe Ho!!' has been the only publication available for all Police sailors to keep informed (though we did have our own local publication for a few years). Searching the Web for other police sailing sites indicates some activity - Surrey, Merseyside, Leicester, not much more.  No doubt other forces will follow in due course. Meanwhile, I hope that our website will provide an adequate substitute for hard copy information.



I have a number of books on sailing accumulated over the years which at the very least could make good reading for you over the winter months. Rather than gather dust on a shelf, they might be better used by being available to Force members. A request can be made for any of the books, which can then be forwarded via the 'Internal Post'.

Click here to see the selection currently available:
Click to view selection of books currently available



Shopping around to find out what's happening, I received an e-mail on next year's Met Offshore Championships; the substance of which is as follows:

"The price will be 485 charter to Sunsail and about 40 entry.
You have to be invited by the organiser.
The dates will be:
Collect boats 14/10/01
Sail on 15 and 16/10/01
All in the Solent area nothing too tricky just loads of marks!"

You can read a report on the 2000 MPSC offshore championships in our Reports/Stories section.



Congratulations to Pete Mankiewicz who once more, succeeded in putting in the best overall performance to win the Reliance Cup - and well done to all those (helms and crews) who turned out to compete in our regattas over the summer season.

Conditions over the summer were not of the best and this, together with the cancellation of a number of sailing days, combined to make it a disappointing season overall.

Besides our own events, there are a number of other Force regattas including the PAA events which provide a full and varied opportunity to represent Northamptonshire Police each year. Future Updates of the website will include all known dates.



Racing at Pitsford has been rather disappointing due to the lack of numbers able to make time to compete. The weather also has not been kind. If it didn't blow too hard, then there just wasn't enough wind on the days set aside for most of our regattas. There were thoughts of changing the times to evening racing but this limits the amount of race time available and of course, there is the natural propensity for the wind to drop at the end of the day. Northampton Sailing Club now run evening races on both Tuesday & Thursday and so far we have managed to avoid being in their way by sailing in the afternoons.

This year we planned for seven regattas, each aiming to run three races. That makes 21 races in all. Maybe the answer is to run some single races on evenings throughout the summer, or just have less regattas. What do you think?



Stop Press - The Sailing Section AGM is planned for 7.30 pm on Wednesday, 17th January, 2001 in the bar at Campbell Square Police Station.




December, 2000


The quiet season - time to put the boat away somewhere dry and avoid all that repair work where the frost and snow gets to the laminate.

Boats at Pitsford need to be well tied down to avoid taking to the air in the Autumn winds but you can never rely on everyone making the same effort to secure their dinghies and it's plainly best to remove your boat entirely, if possible.

Many wait until Boxing Day at Pitsford to sort their boats, by which time it can be too late...



I have been in touch with the Met dinghy representative of their Sailing Section on whom many forces rely, to acquaint everyone with sailing dates around the country. Hopefully, the PAA National Sailing Championships and other dates will be forthcoming in due course. Details - when received - will be shown on our 'Regatta/Results' page



Len Wilcox, whilst enjoying retirement in the Lake District, continues to wreck the interior of his house. He managed to get in a bit of sailing on Ullswater at the end of the summer and found new friends who also sail Flying Fifteens. He sends his best wishes to all.



My grateful thanks to all those who contributed to the "Reports/Stories" Page. Hopefully, it is now developing a good cross-section of items to interest even the most casual browser.



This is the last entry before the AGM which is planned to take place at 7.30pm on Wednesday, January 17th at Campbell Square.

The dates of the Section's regattas for 2001 will be finalised including the "Trial Sail" evening dates held at Pitsford..

If there is any change in this detail, then you'll find the update on this page at least. Any member who has provided an email contact address (see the Form at the bottom of the "Contacts" page) can also be notified direct.



Finally, my thanks to all those who have supported this website enterprise. Though not the perfect answer, I hope that it has provided a suitable, additional means by which our Force Sport can be promoted.

The Season's Greetings




February, 2001


The Section's AGM took place at Campbell Square in January. The Reliance Cup returns once more to the sideboard chez Mankiewicz. Sadly, the Relay Cup for performances in Open Police regattas languishes as no members represented the Force elsewhere during the year. The committee personnel remains the same; details are shown on the 'Contacts Page' .



Last year only one of the 'Try Sailing' evenings was attended and it appears that their purpose (to attract new members to the Section) failed to achieve the desired result. At the AGM it was decided not to continue the evenings in their present form.

For the coming season Pete Mankiewicz can arrange for anyone contacting him to sail with a force member at one of the local reservoirs. So if you are interested in finding out if sailing is for you, don't forget to submit the form to Pete which can be found at the bottom of our "Contacts" page.



A few years ago Police Regattas flourished up and down the country. Now, as most forces have curtailed the time once available to take part in force sport, the number of events and the number of participants has reduced drastically. This has affected dinghy racing to a great degree.

Len Wilcox was the last helm to represent this force and with his retirement, it appeared that no-one planned to replace him.

However, the word is that, offshore sailing increases in popularity. Over the winter months I managed to get hold of some more info on offshore police regattas and it was decided at the AGM to accept an invitation to take part in the Met Offshore Championships due to be held during the period 14/15/16 October, 2001.

To give you a taste of what's involved, there is a commentary on last year's Met offshore Champs to be found via our "Reports & Stories" page

The minimum crew is 6 and I know there is a place left.



The "Regattas & Results" page is now divided into 2 parts. One is for our own regatta details and the other has been created on behalf of other Police forces who have contacted me with a view to their event details being available on our website.



At our last two AGM's the subject of NOSCA has cropped up. The initials stand for Northampton Off-Shore Cruising Association. Albeit far from the coast, this organisation engenders more activity than say, the Gobi Desert Yacht Club on who's behalf I once sailed (or so the T-shirt would lead you to believe).

Back to NOSCA. The association now has around 100 members and meets virtually every first Tuesday of the month.

I managed to get a view of their latest Newsletter in which there is an abundance of items of interest to off-shore enthusiasts whether experienced or merely peripherally interested. On February 20th at the Saints Sports Club, Birchfield Road East, Northampton, there is a presentation on 'The Mary Rose Story' and in early March a talk about sail trimming by Ian Pinnell who's name I see crop up time and again as the World, European or National champion in 505 / Fireball / Enterprise class. He sails in the Mumm 30 Worlds, has co-written a book on racing and I'm sure has many successes still to come. I knew him as a member of Northampton SC and of course he now runs the local and renowned sailmakers Pinnell & Bax. His talk could well be useful to our potential off-shore team.

But that's not all. There is a 'New and Prospective Members' Rally in April and a South Coast Rally during the early May Bank Holiday weekend.. There are sections on 'crews wanted' and those 'wanting to crew'; there are barbecues and suppers; there are .... Well, suffice to say that it is an excellent newsletter and considering the opportunities and activities available on our doorstep, an organisation well worth joining.

NOSCA has been in existence now for over 10 years and continues to attract new members. The annual fee to join is 14 (20 for joint membership). They have just started their own website and can be contacted via .



I was looking at the February issue of the Northampton Sailing Club newsletter. Those of you who are (paid up?) members will have already received it.

There are some Thursday evening meetings during March which may be of interest.

Thursday 15th March - If you liable to get stuck with a duty as Race Officer over the season you might find it useful to get to know the new Sunday starting sequence and essentially some ideas on course setting.

Thursday 22nd March - The club plans to run a number of Pursuit Races during the year (as we do) and the evening is devoted to explaining how to run and participate. I think I need to attend this one.

Thursday 29th March - A guide to the new racing rules being introduced this year.

If you are a non-member and interested in attending any of these events contact me to make arrangements as a guest.

Apart from the membership entrance fee (50) to join, Northampton SC currently costs 190 for the season and 135 for a crew membership (i.e., non-boat membership). There are reductions for various age groups under 24 years and family membership can come cheaper pro rata of course. The club accepts a wide selection of dinghy classes.



By the time the next update (April/May) of this website comes on stream, it will be time to have completed all that winter maintenance and be ready for the start of the 2001 season. Hopefully, we shall have a digital camera on hand (not mine!) in order to get some decent shots and regatta results promptly on-line.

This year it is planned to present plaques or similar to successful participants in our local regattas based on the overall  results.




May, 2001


The Police Sailing season has started. On the local rezzies, the ice is now well cleared from the surface, the banks are starting to show cracks from dryness yet the reservoirs are brim full. It has been possible to rig and de-rig without getting the sails covered in mud. Despite some early restrictions, not all the surrounding farm animals have been wiped from the face of the earth... So much for the grim start to this Spring.



Every four years, around the time of the Olympics, the sailing international governing body (the ISAF) gets together to review the sailing rules. Not more changes I hear some say.

The Racing Rules for the period 2001-2004 came into force on April 1st and there some changes effecting the Starting procedure also mark-rounding and the like, putting stress on obligations to give room and keep clear.

The New Rules, including the Starting Procedure, have now been incorporated into our 'Racing & Rules' page



A few more books have been added to our 'Library' page including 2001-2004 The Rules in Practice. All the books are available to force members and, although not yet complete, the selection of books available already covers a broad cross-section of expertise and observation from the world of sail. The page is not just there to look pretty and needs support to justify its inclusion. If there are any publications which might interest you - it costs nothing - just  visit the Library Page and email details by clicking on 'BOOKS'.



The start of the year seems to have brought out the yearning for new acquisitions. Phil Osborne has been travelling the country in search of a suitable Wayfarer. Chris Fox is in the throes of swapping his Swift 18 for a Westerley Centaur. Dick Sivers has at last succumbed to the aroma of smelly wet-suits and acquired an old Laser.



On the Spring Bank Holiday Monday, May 28th, Northampton Sailing Club are running a Sailing Skills Day for club members. The event starts at midday and comprises a series of challenges to test your skill. The day is not just for 'experts' - far from it.

There is 'Sailing in a box' (?), rudderless sailing, man overboard, slaloms - and prizes. The idea seems to be to get all levels of ability to turn out for what the club hope will be a very enjoyable Bank Holiday.

It sounds like good spectator sport.



The first of our local regattas takes place on Thursday, May 31st - a later start than previous years - so hopefully, the weather will be just that bit kinder to allow for a good afternoon's sailing. Some members of the Section have recently been espied at Pitsford getting in some practice by tacking towards the ice-cream van at the Holcot causeway. So it can't be that cold.

I have managed to find an excellent 'volunteer' to assist in running the racing, Jim Hadland, who is a member at NSC and will be able to make the regatta run as smooth as silk. See you there.



The first police regatta of the season is usually the West Midlands Police regatta. The force was represented and a report can be found via the 'Regattas & Results' Section.



The next formal update of our website should be around August/September. However, this being the most active period of the year, details of forthcoming regattas, reports and results and pictures of our local and other force regattas will be posted as soon as available. As soon as I know - you know.




August/September, 2001


The annual PAA sailing dinghy championships have been over for a while now, yet when I have enquired about the event, it seems that all did not go well. Time gives perspective, but I began to wonder earlier in the year when there was so little detail on the PAA website and Northants never received any written details of the event. The championship should be after all, the most important event of the year - in the context of Police Sailing, that is - when all forces are provided with the opportunity to get together and compete in the most prestigious sporting event of the Police Sailing calendar.

Earlier in the year, I had chatted to one of the organisers and realised then that he had a job on his hands. Having served on the PAA Sailing Committee for a number of years in the past, I know that one is only too grateful for Forces to host this national event. It need lots of preparation and support; it does not just happen. During the 70's, recognition of sailing as a PAA recognised sport was not easily won and took a number of years to attain. Quite rightly, we (I was there!) had to prove that police sailing was supported across the country by many forces and in sufficient numbers for the PAA to us give its blessing and recognition. It needs to remain that way.

Since the championships there has been a de-brief and it is evident that although there is one main person who becomes the focal point of contact - support, support and more support is the only way to ensure the success of any event. From the days when Northants held it's own Open Police regattas, it's plain that good liaison with the host Sailing Club, who after all are professionals at running such events, is paramount. Everything on the day, including race officers, rescue boats, results and catering, can be left to the host club. This should leave the sailing members of the host force with the opportunity to compete themselves, not just run the event.

Here is the good news. Next year's Laser & PAA Dinghy Championships are being organised by Avon & Somerset who already have the dates announced (12/13/14 June, 2002) and who are meeting as I write to plan their strategy, their communication, the publicity and all the rest of the administration that goes with preparing to make a successful event. One cannot order the wind and there is always Sod's Law to frustrate the best laid plans - however, this event is looking for some 60 boats to appear on the start-line. It is not looking to fail. Next year's PAA regatta will take place at Chew Valley Sailing Club.

September 5th this year sees their Force Open Regatta and the opportunity to check out next year's venue. See the Regattas & Results 'Other Forces' Page for details as they become available.



On the PAA dinghy championship's - Congratulations to Alan Husk of Essex Police in winning this year's event. Alan was kind enough to provide material for an article on his sailing background which can be read via our 'Reports & Stories' page.



Last year Steve Middleditch provided an item on the Three Rivers Race, 2000 which can be found in our 'Reports & Stories' Section. Steve didn't make it this year due to family commitments.

I think he made the right decision. Strong winds forced the organisers of this year's race to cancel the event. Two boats sank and more than 25 were badly damaged. The 57-mile event was called off for the first time in its 50-year history after race officials decided that conditions were too dangerous for the 115 small boats and some 340 sailors.



On the local front, if you've taken the trouble to check out the timing sequence for RYA recommended racing starts (see the Racing/Rules page) the Race Officers at Northampton SC have been inundated with requests to change the starting sequence. Not to the old 6 & 3, but to a more compacted timing of  3-2-1-Go!

Although Pitsford is the largest stretch of water in the county with plenty of water to use for laps, it was found that the fastest fleet (the first to go) were liable to come through the start line line at the end of their first lap, around the time when the slowest fleet set off. So they changed it.

I mention this as it took quite a few starts for me to realise the sequence had changed from the officially published system.



There I was approaching the bottom mark and catching up with the dinghy in front to claim an inside overlap. Having got my bow forward of his rudder stock I was happy to call for 'water' but the reply came "You aren't at two boat lengths". At that point the helmsman of a dinghy immediately behind shouted out to agree - not with me but the other boat. There being an independent witness and thus liable to provide the deciding factor in any protest, I decided to retire having ended up hitting the boat in front . .

Now, NSC Club racing can be a little fraught but coming off the water I was reminded of a comment that I had heard a couple of times at the club this year, that, "Two boat lengths was decided by the length of the longest boat". Who was I to dispute what everybody else was saying. For me that was the end of the matter and an early bath was in order.

A couple of weeks later I took part in a pursuit race where the slowest boat had been an Optimist and the fastest a Fireball. After the race the independent witness approached me carrying Elvstrom's latest book on the Racing Rules. We discussed the race and the earlier incident and he then showed me a small paragraph in the book outlining a definition as follows:

Two-Length Zone:
The area around a mark or obstruction within a distance of two hull lengths of the boat nearer to it.

When you think about the Oppy with a Fireball or Flying Fifteen on its tail, it makes sense.

Apart from the Laser National Police Championship, most police sailing is held under handicap of necessity, there being such a broad mix of boats taking part. This will always make for boats travelling at extremely varied speeds, whatever the conditions. The message is, that with the rules reviewed every four years, it pays to keep up to date. You can find a selection of the racing rules in our Racing/Rules page.



The current results of the Force handicap series up to and including 9th August, 2001

Half of total races to count
The "greyed out" results are the discards


Phil Osborne 5 4 2 1 3 1 2 2 6 1
Chris Hume 3 1 8 2 2 8 8 8 8 2
Pete Mankiewicz 4 3 8 8 8 8 1 1 9 3
Roger Badcock 8 8 1 3 1 8 8 8 13 4
Dick Sivers 1 2 8 8 8 8 8 8 19 5
Steve Middleditch 2 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 25 6

The competition for the Reliance Trophy remains very open with three scheduled regattas still to run, giving the possibility of running 9 more races. A short report on the latest races appears on our 'local regattas' page. The next regatta is due to take place on 23rd August. The results of that regatta together with all the September events will be posted on the Regatta/Results Section pages as available.



In September there are two other Police Regattas due to take place.
Avon & Somerset at Chew Valley S.C. on Wednesday, 5th September, then the Met hold their regatta at Datchet Water S.C. on Tuesday 11th September.
Details can be found on the 'Other Forces' regatta page.

Northants plans to be represented at both events. Results will be posted shortly after each regatta.



The Sailing School at Pitsford is now closed and possibly unlikely to re-open for a while. This means that hire boats will not be available at present nor rescue facilities during the weekdays, thus requiring the 'buddy' system, i.e., at least two dinghies on the water.

Continued below




So much happening this month - an addition to the August input seemed appropriate.



The Avon & Somerset Regatta took place in early September and details appear on the Other Forces regattas page. Despite the grey conditions - totally different to the weather forecast - I am sure that everybody enjoyed the event. There was lots of manpower about and the first person appeared on the roadside to make sure one found the right turning for the sailing club. There was even a man posted to help the Lasers launching and landing at the slipway. You two-man boats cannot appreciate the value of such a person. I hesitate to call him a trolley dolly but I'll call him anything he likes if he's there again next year..

For the organiser Pete Franklyn, this was very much a rehearsal for organising the PAA event next year. Suffice to say that everything, but everything went smoothly on the day - or so it appeared to the visitors. Anyone who has had to organise such an event will see little probs themselves but at the end of the day Pete was well pleased with his efforts and so were the competitors.

It's going to be a great venue for the PAA. Although a number travelled to the event on the day, others had arrived the night before and some had camped out. I found the perfect farmhouse to stay in and the area has lots of local interest (country pubs and a wonderful landscape everywhere) to make a week of it.



The Met. regatta also took place in September. Sailing Races 2 and 3 back-to-back meant that it was not until we came off the water at the end of the afternoon that we heard about the atrocity at the World Trade Centre. Throughout the day we had sailed to the sound of giant aeroplanes taking off from nearby Heathrow. It only made us all too conscious of the connection.

Numbers at the regatta were somewhat low and some of the Met helms were, instead of being on the water, stuck in court and similar. A strong contingent arrived from Sussex.

Datchet Water Sailing Club is a more convivial venue than the old Queen Mary where the Met regattas were once held. Car (and trailer) parking during the week is much more convenient and with plenty of level concrete foreshore on which to park or rig the boats, it made for easy launching and landing.

At the end of the regatta the timings were entered in the club's computer and it appears that for some reason the results did not appear to correlate with what had happened on the water. They made a stab at the first three places but most competitors went away not knowing how they had fared.

Fortunately, the timings were taken down by Len Gooch who had spent the day on the Committee Boat and I am grateful to him for the details that appear on the Regatta & Results page.



Force dinghy sailing has comes to an end for the year, this month. Northants has one more local regatta to go, which is a closed event at present. There will be a discussion during the winter to see if we can invite personnel from other forces. It might be one way of gearing up to join the present ciruit of Open Police regattas.

However, the main thing on Northants' mind at the moment is the forthcoming Metropolitan Police Offshore Championships in October. Details of the event appear elsewhere.

We have at last received an invitation to attend and moves are in progress to confirm a team to take part. It will be our first foray into the 'big boat' league.




January, 2002

The front page of this website has been changed to increase the speed of download and simplify navigation. If your browser has any difficulty reading any aspect of the site please let me know.
First, The Met Offshore, 2001

Everybody appears to have enjoyed the last event of 2001 and I am grateful to all those who provided photos of the action. There were few 'on board' shots taken of those taking part but who's thinking about pretty pictures when there are races to be won.

The Northants team comprised:
Pete Mankiewicz, Chris Fox, Phil Osborne, Chris Hume, Rankin McCarrick, Jack Douglas & Brian Liggins. The team had never sailed together before and despite mostly ending up as the "lanterne rouge", they thoroughly enjoyed their first foray into the big boat league.

Despite the odd good start, Northants were always struggling to keep up to the speed of the other yachts. An independent assessment of their performance decided that the mainsail was so baggy that they were bound to lose a couple of knots to the other boats.

The team did not come away empty handed and received a useful Wooden Spoon book " The Offshore Race Crew's Manual" which will shortly make its way to the Library for others to read.

The main thing is: We were there!


There's an RYA Day Skipper Theory Course taking place at Brixworth Country Park.

"The complete guide to seamanship, safety and navigation in just 4 weekends. Suitable for the complete beginner to the aspiring yacht or motor cruising skipper".

Dates: 19/20 Jan, 26/27 Jan, 2/3 Feb, 9/10 Feb. 10am to 4.30pm. Cost 45.

There may still be places - contact Jenny Jeffs (of Sailability, Northampton) on 01582-451504.

Expect to see Laser sailors pulling lots of new strings on their boats at the PAA event this year, sorting out the new rigging system which came into force on October 1st. New rules effect the outhaul, cunningham and kicker and make it easier to make adjustments when racing. At last!
There was a small item in Y&Y recently that warned that boat insurance would be going up this coming year and suggested it was worth shopping around. Two pages on, there was a letter in which the writer had obtained a quote for life assurance and when asked if he took part in any dangerous sports, quoted his sailing and the premium was put up by 30%. The company apparently then phoned him back and asked whether he sailed single-handed. He did (though whether it was round-the-world or round the local pond is not indicated) and the premium was put up four-fold more! It sounds as if shopping around is good advice.
Days and dates of next year's regattas are in the throes of being produced. Other Forces details are starting to come in. Local Northants dates will be decided at their forthcoming AGM on Wednesday, 16th January, 2002 in the new bar at Campbell Square P/Stn, Northampton.


Early notification has arrived for the PAA Offshore Championships 2002 on the South Coast. Details can be viewed via our 'Regattas & Results' section for 2002.

Now, the latest on the Police Laser Nationals & PAA Dinghy Championships. The hosts Avon & Somerset held a meeting during December to appraise the current position. The main aspect is that the dates are now confirmed but most importantly the venue has now changed.

For those who attended and enjoyed the event at Chew Valley last September this may be a disappointment. But the organiser Pete Franklyn assured me that we would be made most welcome at the new venue on the Cheddar Reservoir. They say that there are no tides to restrict(!) when you sail on Cheddar Reservoir, and the surroundings are lovely, with the Mendip hills providing a beautiful backdrop.

The rezzy has concrete sides - that means, good, clear water and no mud! There is plenty of launching area in front of the clubhouse for up to 100 boats and I hear that there is no 'slope' problem launching/landing for single-handers.

The Race officer will be Peter Vincent, former Enterprise World Champion and currently as well known in the RS range of dinghies. The caterers are the same as were at Chew Valley, so that's good news and there will be a buffet and live music on the evening of the 13th June. Pete tells me that the commodore of Chew Valley has now changed and what with the club wanting to alter the dates slightly and limit bar facilities, this had forced him to look for a more suitable venue.

I had a chat with the rear-commodore at Bristol Corinthian. They are obviously looking forward to hosting our event. Their local accommodation list is currently being updated and from the conversation it was evident that there is quite a lot to do around the area (e.g., Cheddar Caves, walks) to keep spouses, guests and children and similar entertained when they are tired of waiting for you to capsize. I would say that you could easily make a week of it. There is a caravan & camping site not far from the reservoir and plenty of B&B; all this sort of detail will be forwarded with entry forms (available from March, 2002).

The next step is to get as much publicity for the regatta as possible. You may see details in the Police Review, the NARPO magazine or even UNISON but up-to-date news up to and including the results will appear on this (your) website. Talking to Pete Franklyn in the Autumn he thought that many more entries might come from retired officers. So if you know of any retired personnel or if your force has local newsletters that go out to old colleagues, please do let them know about the event.

So there we are. Further details and any changes of the event will be updated on this website as they are made available. Please note that Pete's contact telephone number will not be shown at present in order that the normal activities of his department are not disrupted. But see the item on the National Laser & PAA Dinghy Championships for all contact details.



A Review of the year.

Looking back on this last year, Police Sailing seems to just about to have held its own in the context of police sport. The numbers of boats competing this year has not been disastrous. West Mids numbers (11) were up on the previous year and being the first event of our sailing calendar, this was good news.

However, Sussex (too rough to launch etc - on the sea), North Wales (eventually cancelled due to Force commitments), West Yorkshire (with similar problems) became non-events.

The National Laser & PAA dinghy regatta produced 16 and 27 entries respectively. This should be better in 2002. Avon & Somerset regatta had 17 entries and the Met dinghies at Datchet had 12 where a number of Met guys were stuck in court and similar. A strong contingent arrived from Sussex - but where were Hampshire, Kent, Essex?

The PAA Offshore 2001 saw a very upbeat 28 yachts taking part though it seems a pity that in the Met Offshore in September, besides the Met boats, few other forces took part.

Plenty of Publicity well before an event, also good Admin and plenty of willing hands to support the organiser, tend to provide a positive chance of regattas being a success but in the end it's the old thing of "bums on side-decks" - that is, attendance, that makes for a good regatta. Without support, all these 'other force' regattas could become a thing of the past. If events are not supported, why organise them? Then what will we do with our lives?

It seems to be so difficult these days to get away for police sport. It's obvious why; certainly in the provinces - and somewhere along the way we seem to be losing the will to make the effort to participate. The days of 20 to 30-odd boats turning out were over by the mid 90's. You have to be very keen to make the effort these days, so what of the next generation? Certainly there appear to be few sailors young in service coming through to the sport. The sporting police calendar could disappear forever through lack of support and then what of the role of the PAA?

I find it odd that such a costly sport as yachting should be going from strength to strength in the police service but not dinghy racing. It can't be making the money; it must be making the time.

If you are like me, you hate SPAM. (and emails with words in capital letters...) - thus, when there are changes to events that you may want to know about, sooner rather than later, you may miss getting to know about it until too late - for I hesitate to pester anyone with unnecessary emails.

It occurs to me that you may want to know directly about regatta details that come in, changes, updates, or any updated facet of Police Sailing that is covered by the website.

Do not hesitate to email Barnacle Bill (via his hyperlink below) if you want to be included in the list for being reminded, particularly regarding details of Police Regattas. Now that many serving personnel also have an address within their force Intranet, it's a simple job for all to be kept in touch with changes. But, I leave the decision to you - as I say, I hate Spam - but you might find the facility useful.

I am grateful to all those officers, serving and retired, who have supported the site throughout 2001 by way of reports, articles, pictures, information, hits and comments. It all makes the effort, to maintain what is essentially your website, worthwhile.

A happy & peaceful New Year and Good Sailing in the coming season.


  Additional entries - Late January

The Northants AGM took place recently. Details including the dates for in-force regattas at Pitsford are on the current (i.e., 2002)  'Northants Regattas and Results' page.


The complete details and entry paperwork are now available for this year's PAA Offshore Champs on the Solent from Malcolm Palmer. All the boats will be new 37-footers - with ship's wheels rather than tillers. Malcolm says the boats are looking good.

Phil Osborne is organising some offshore sailing on the South Coast in July. The offer of berths is primarily open to Northants personnel but he would like to meet up with fellow officers who might be sailing in the Portsmouth Harbour / Solent area. Details of dates, cost, etc., can be viewed on the 'Northants Regattas and Results' page.





May, 2002

The West Midlands Open Regatta took place on April 24th. It was a splendid day despite the wind being fairly light for most of the racing. This year there was more wind than last year - but not much more. Bartley is the perfect venue for early season competition. Seeing that it's in the middle of England, it's disappointing that there are not more boats attending particularly from the North. Nevertheless a good time was had by all - even the back markers - Bartley always make us very welcome.

Results and pictures can be seen via the 'Regattas & Results' page


A reminder that the first regatta of the year for Northants personnel is on 30th May. Pitsford reservoir is full and the temperature is sure to be kinder than in early April when dry suits were pretty well de riguer.
Meanwhile at Northampton Sailing Club, Phil Osborne has been getting wet trying out his new acquisition, a Laser. We wish him many hours of enjoyment getting to grips with, what was once described as a double-drainer sink unit . . . but these days, with its Olympic Class stature plus the recent improvements to the control lines system, continues to remain the most popular dinghy class in the UK.


Northamptonshire Schools Sailing & Canoeing Association has reorganised and refurbished for the 2002 season. There is a new principal there, Isolda Marroquin. The Association has concentrated on getting the boats and equipment up to scratch for the season and are running courses at Pitsford for schools and youth organisations only at present. They do not appear to be running courses for adults at the moment but it's early days and worth making enquiries. You can phone 01604-880801 for further information..

Someone kindly sent me a copy of the latest 'Jibe Ho' newsletter which has been produced for many, many years by the Met Police Sailing Club. Before websites, this was really the only means of getting to know what was happening around Police Sailing. These days the newsletter is mainly about offshore sailing and things are highly organised. Besides social evenings and cruises, they run a number of training courses - mainly RYA based - covering everything from Sea Survival to Navigation, Coastal Skipper and sail trimming. The Met members now have use a number of yachts owned by MPSC which currently operate out of Mercury Yacht Harbour, Hamble but includes the use of dinghies.

Now I know why so many of my old contacts in the Met Police Sailing end up on the South Coast.

Karoline George, well known in Met Offshore circles, is the contact for this year's Met Offshore Championship. Details currently available can be viewed via the 'Regattas & Results, 2002' page.

I hear that Karoline is entering a team in this year's PAA Offshore and will be on hand regarding entry to the Met event in October.


One article in 'Jibe Ho' certainly caught my eye which tells the story of a cruise in a 44' cutter-rigged sloop from Oban to Iceland. The sloop "BoldExplorer.Com", built and owned by a retired Met bobby, Ashley Woods, took 9 years to build and makes regular charter cruises around the British Isles and on to Iceland.

The article, by Ted Piggin, tells of the life on board the 6 day journey, of sailing through the nights which are never get dark, the friendliness of the Icelandic people. If you can get hold of 'Jibe Ho' the story is worth a read.

Details of the Sussex regatta in August can be found on this year's 'Regattas & Results' page. Bexhill Sailing Club is situated in the town and looks directly onto a shingle beach. The public are in close proximity and having spent some formative years in this neck of the woods, I can confirm that the event takes place in very much of a relaxed, holiday atmosphere; a nice spot to spend quite a few days.
The current PAA dinghy champion, Alan Husk turned up at Northampton recently giving a good account of himself in his Phantom. He likes Pitsford - there's no doubt it could be a good venue for an event sometime in the future.





July, 2002

The PAA Dinghy three days have slipped by and gone. What a brilliant job was done by Avon & Somerset - Pete Franklyn, Tina, Jeff Hines, the personnel from the Bristol Corinthian and everybody concerned down to the people assisting with launching, etc. These things don't just happen and this year's great increase in the number of entries was entirely due to all the preparation which has gone on since last year. Oncemore, on behalf of the competitors, - Well done to all concerned. The event was well worth taking part in.


Alan Husk (Essex) again took away a number of trophies and well deserved they were. In his "thank you on behalf of the competitors", he pressed us to gather again next year and each bring a new competitor. There were in fact, a number of new competitors this year which bodes well for the future of this PAA Sailing event. Some competitors had only been sailing/racing since last year and one can only hope that they all felt it worthwhile returning.


Finding a Force prepared to take on the running of our National dinghy regatta seems to becoming more and more difficult. Pete Franklyn will be the first to tell you that it needs lots of willing hands to be involved albeit the bulk (and brickbats) tend to fall on the one person who becomes the focal point of the operation.

Pete is in the throes of completing a 'Best Practice Guide' for use by future hosts which will no doubt outline all the aspects and pitfalls he experienced organising the Cheddar event.

As a result of good preparation it was good to see both Pete and Jeff Hines taking part in the regatta rather than left still sorting things on the shore.



The PAA Offshore have got their act together and have already arranged for future hosts. They are as follows:

2003 Devon & Cornwall
2004 Met. Police S.C.
2004 Lothian & Borders

As further details become available they will be posted to the 'Regattas & Results' Section.



Meanwhile the host force for next year's PAA National Dinghy Sailing Championships has yet to be confirmed. In order that you may be kept appraised of the situation, this website administrator has been designated National Co-ordinator for the PAA Dinghy Champs and has already started to receive requests for information when details are announced.

My thanks to Tony Britten who dashed round at the end of the Nationals collecting email addresses, but if you missed him and want to be in the picture in good time, send a short email  request for PAA dinghy venue details .



For Met personnel, The Metropolitan Police Sailing Club is hosting a fun weekend at their Broadway Base, Mercury Marina, Hamble on 17th and 18th August 2002. The idea is that members come along with family & friends and go out on the club's yachts, dinghies and RIB.

The weekend coincides with a "Festival of Sail" parade in Southampton Water which they hope to incorporate into the event.

Met non-members are particularly encouraged to come as it is hoped that new members will be recruited and introduced to the pleasure that sailing brings.

Clearly, they cannot take everyone out on the RIB in one go and it is hoped that as many members as possible will sample all the available water borne craft.

There will be a bar-b-q and soft drinks supplied by the club. Be there and make sure you get your share!! To reserve spaces Met members need to contact DI Mick Conner at NSY


One wonders what is happening to the likes of Kent, Hampshire and Devon & Cornwall - All once great supporters of  PAA Dinghy Sailing. It's not as if Somerset was a million miles away. Still, 15 Forces did take part and considering the constraints on time and availability, the number attending does bode well for the future.

A Force's own Open regattas is a different kettle of fish. These last years has seen the number of Open Police Regattas become fewer and fewer. There are many, many reasons of course, but one could be that organisers become disillusioned when their regattas are not supported.

The next confirmed regatta is Sussex at Bexhill-on-Sea, 14th August. A great opportunity to go sea-sailing.

Numbers taking part in the PAA Offshore this year were not too far removed from last year's attendance and it sounds as if the weather was spectacular and a good test of seamanship. Malcolm Palmer has provided an excellent report on the week which can be viewed elsewhere. As soon as any detail is available regarding next year's event, it will be published. As with the Dinghy Nationals, check out the Regattas page once in a while, or send a short email if you wish to be notified toute de suite.

Finally, many thanks to Paul Meeson and Martin Burns who provided pictures for the PAA Dinghy photo-gallery.

Most of the original digital pictures are 7" x 5" at 300ppi which is a better definition than the website version. If you want a copy of the original digital version of any picture, contact Barnacle Bill via the hyperlink below.







September, 2002

The Sussex Police regatta took place at Bexhill-on-Sea in early August. A report & results appear elsewhere on the website. The Bexhill Sailing Club made everyone very welcome having incorporated the police regatta into their  local 'Sea Week'.

Bexhill might look a little awkward to get to, but arriving before 9am meant you avoided lots of traffic - most of it travelling north, anyway. Parking, or rather, parking close to the club could be a problem in the summer if you arrived late.

There are some flat rocks exposed at low tide which are slightly slippery as the bruises on my hip confirm. I was warned. Beyond this, getting afloat and ashore again is easy enough. If it's a Force 5 and onshore you just sail up the beach..... This year, the weather was so light that the only small problem was the haul up the beach over the pebbles. It is not quite like having the slipway which us namby-pamby inland sailors are used to.

Be that as it may, the event was held in a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Bexhill Sailing Club is an excellent example of what can be done when the members are enthusiastic to promote and progress their club. They are awaiting the result of a 180,000 application to Sport England (a Lottery Application) in order to refurbish the whole of the ground floor of the Sailing Club and extend it to provide new Safety Boats Garaging and then the rest of the ground floor will be for Changing facilities with more modern showers, toilets etc. The clubhouse will thus be enlarged to take greater numbers of sailors to satisfy the increased use of the Sailing Club. Bexhill SC will know the result of their application in late September. Work is planned to be carried out in the closed season this Winter/early Spring to resume sailing in April 2003.

This is in fact, the third phase of three previous Lottery Applications - the last one, last year, provided Bexhill Sailing Club with nearly 70,000 to purchase eighteen boats and a third RIB from use with Sail Training and Youth Sailing. I had a chat with Dusty about the feasibility of making any spare dinghies available for ('dinghyless') helms prepared to come to the police event next year. There is in fact, a demand during their Sea Week locally but he'll look into it and if you are prepared to come down for the event mob-handed it may be worth enquiring, rather than carting lots of boats.

Why do I mention all the above? Because the event deserves more support and it just shows what can be done by a sailing club with a forward-looking membership. Perhaps your club could do with a grant.

Sussex Police are looking to host the PAA Dinghy Championships at sometime in the future and one wondered if they were considering Bexhill as a suitable venue. Sadly, this won't be so. Early-day parking is OK for visitors to the Force regatta but to consider catering for say, 50 competitors in a PAA event would not be feasible. Despite it's sleepy reputation, Bexhill has a fair number of day visitors vying for parking space on the sea front. Not quite like competing with German holidaymakers for a spot by the pool - but it did pay to arrive early...

Congratulations to Andy Taverner (Met) who won the event. Well done and thanks also to Bob Trevis and Dusty Miller for setting up the event and inviting other Forces. This event had lapsed in recent years but now looks to be set for the future with a strong nucleus of Sussex police personnel attached to local seaside sailing clubs along the Sussex coast.

The number of entries from other Forces was a little disappointing but a representative from Kent made a welcome appearance. Many are away on holidays at this time of the year but this August regatta slips nicely into the currently depleted calendar of police sailing. So arrange your holidays accordingly . . .

Sussex Police Sailing Section is strong and one can look forward to next year's event. Details for 2003 will be posted as soon as known.

Sea sailing is a whole new ball game for many and this event makes a splendid opportunity to get some experience. A bit of salt on my tail made a pleasant change. I'll be there next year.

Not much salt around at the Met regatta where the weather was warm and a light breeze blew most of the day.

Considering the convenient location, numbers were disappointing. Court, convalescence, courses - they all take their toll on attendance figures whatever the sport. 7 boats hardly warrant the effort that's put into organising the event. Time was when we all supported each other's regattas. The Met regatta was always the biggest. Gone are the days when there were between 20 and 30 boats.

Be that as it may. Datchet Water SC made us very welcome - they are surely more used to running events with many more boats. It's a good venue. Easy parking and easy launching. None of the 100-stair dash from boat to car-park and precipitous launching that we got used to at Queen Mary many years ago when police sailing first started to get into its stride.

Few numbers mean that we nearly all got a prize! Now, police regattas are not the most competitive you'll come across and often it can be the first ever occasion that you get into the prizes. I tend to feel that even the smallest token is appreciated, particularly by those who have travelled a distance. It was nice to see the prize winners getting well down the list; not just the formal 1st, 2nd & 3rd. Something to show for your efforts beyond returning home with a smelly wetsuit.


The very last event of the police sailing calendar is the Met Offshore and numbers look like being higher than ever. With teams from West Mids, Notts, GMP, Herts and Northants together with a strong contingent from the Met this looks like an event to rival any offshore police regatta of recent years. I've heard that there could be up to 27 boats competing.

Karoline George, the organiser had a splendid idea and has been shopping round for a suitable trophy to be sailed for solely between the 'guest' competitors. Expenses leave little room for such additions at short notice and this may not happen. There are a number of guest boats this year and between everybody attending, it should be possible to ensure something is produced this year or at worst for next year.

Locally, the Northants local regattas are nearly completed. The ultimate winner will not be known until their final regatta on 26th September.

Then in October, a team comprising Pete Mankiewicz, Roger Badcock, Phil Osborne, Martin Dearsley, Chris Hume, and Rankin McCarrick will represent Northamptonshire Police in the Met Offshore event. They are hoping to perform better than last year and to that effect are planning to get a day's practice in beforehand.

PAA National Dinghy Championships, 2003

Paul Heath, GMP has been beavering away with a view to getting next year's PAA dinghy regatta set up. At the moment he is waiting on a formal letter from the PAA Dinghy Chairman, to be sent to the Greater Manchester Police Sports & Social Club who will in effect be hosting the event.

The signs are promising. The A.C.C. at GMP is supportive and the venue and  Leigh & Lowton Sailing Club would be happy to run the three day event on Wednesday, 18th June to Friday, 20th June, 2003.

This is not official confirmation of the event - but this is the current position and we hope that it all comes to proof in the not too distant future.

Once details are confirmed for the event, I shall be e-mailing those who have asked to be promptly informed. In addition, details will appear as an update to this page also in the 'Regattas & Results' section in due course.

  (This is the position as at 18th September, 2002)

Next update on this is planned for end of October.

Return to more recent entries


If you have a tale to tell or whatever - anything which you feel is suitable for this column - please ring or fax me on 01604-781831 or via the e-mail address below.

Barnacle Bill "Barnacle Bill"