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Webmistress Valediction

  • Now that an adventure beckons, indulge me while I look back at eight years as the 'webmistress', and take the opportunity to pass on some well-earned thank-yous. The Island Barn website was created in 1996 as a simple one-page, bearing a spooky resemblance to Queen Mary SC's site at the time. This was all in response to Surrey County Council's 'Surreyweb' initiative, and greatly assisted by Jim Champ who remains the real technical guru - I simply write the words.

    I'm not sure where the concept of the weekly 'gossip column' came from, but I soon discovered that my thoughts and musings were reaching a surprisingly appreciative audience. (Although not always; one piece had to be rapidly altered when someone got rather upset, thus proving that you can't please all of the people all of the time!) Everyone seemed to like to see their name up in lights, especially when they had fulfilled the general criteria of doing something brave, skilful or comical. All concerned were especially happy when the act worthy of mention covered all three! Some weeks it was difficult to keep the report under five paragraphs with so much going on at the club, and so much entertainment around. The concept of the 'newslist' was born when some people moved away and found it easier to check e-mails than to open a website; several now very distant members rely on this to keep in touch. I know because I receive comments on the contents, and occasional reminders when there is no update!

    The website has been the medium for informing the club of events, requesting assistance, reminding people of what is about to happen and occasionally providing gentle admonitions. It has reported births (2002 being a highlight with five new arrivals), marriages - and sadly on occasion I have struggled to find the right words to pay tribute to club members whom we will not see again. It has provided updates on events that have affected everyone at the club and, via the web-board (another Jim Champ invention) a means for the members to discuss goings on and make suggestions. (We need this to be used more!) It is also the main shop window for the club, and the fact that it has been established for so long means that it comes up in the search engines for such basic terms as 'sailing' and 'Laser', and this quirk has brought us several new members who might not have found the reservoir otherwise. Finally, it also allows us to have results accessible to all, although this would be easier if we had a few volunteers to assist in collecting them from the club and typing them up.

    As publicity officer I have always 'sold' IBRSC as a friendly club; this is not difficult because it is so true. The club rapidly acquires that 'Cheers' feeling ('where everybody knows your name') and the pleasingly solid routine of sailing once, twice or three times a week soon becomes an addiction, whatever the weather. In the last eight years I've seen the fleets at the club change, the junior fleet go from nothing to a 100-boat Topper Open, and although turnouts for some races are down I believe that we now have a higher percentage of our membership sailing regularly. Most importantly, I don't think there's anywhere like us for fun.

    Naturally the club is nothing without its members; and Island Barn can be particularly proud of the wonderful people who sail there. (or in some cases work so hard for the club that they don't sail!). The following list can never be complete but highlights some of those people who are such a pleasure to know. They are in no particular order.


    • The Lasers, with thanks for hot competition, rigging assistance and generally being so much fun: John Leheup (always the star of the dinghy park, and also a major presence on the water - fair winds for 'Navigator' and we hope for another chance to obey the house rules), Daryl Cooper (for boat-catching, mast-stepping, moral support and all those timely labels), the indomitable and well-organised John Magrath, Tony Butler (may the grass around him always be green), class captain and top trainer Rob Sumner, Paul Wright-Anderson, David Bean, Simon Bean, Brian Wakeling, Rob Jenner, Steve Day, Andy Barnett, Martin Yates, Nick Ingram, John Kirby, Alasdair Maclean, Jamie Scott (IBRSC's party animal), Brian Greenaway, Adrian Morton and many others. The Laser fleet currently includes the membership secretary, the team manager, the treasurer and several team leaders; what a hard-working bunch of people. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to cross tacks and bump gunwales with you all, and many many thanks for the 'travellers kit' (and the toast!).
    • The loveable Solos; 'silver surfers' but still a definite force to be reckoned with on the water, at a forty-five degree angle cutting the grass and at a similar angle in their comfy chairs, pints in hand. I will particularly miss having my theme tune ('Yellow Submarine', the name of my boat) whistled across the water when I get things wrong and end up behind their huge battened sails. Things would be much less fun without Merv 'the swerve' Cinnamond, 'Fast' Eddie Lord, Eddie ('dotcom') Holland, Frank Beanland (the current ancient mariner), Mike Lipscombe, Robin Pryke, Peter Cottrell (still winning almost everything!) and the rest. Pensioner Power!
    • Glen Cole; ex-Commodore both of the club and the Enterprise association, club trustee, one of the mainstays of the Tuesday Trysail team and still a regular traveller with a succession of perfectly polished Enterprises. Following this year's particularly successful Tuesday Trysail, hopefully the Enterprise fleet will now rise again so we'll see more of these particularly boat-shaped boats.
    • Colin and Ann Mattingly; their contribution to the club would fill a book, but I'd just like to say thank you for their ability to keep a straight face (most of the time) when asked for a half of lime squash;
    • Peter Jelley, the incumbent Commodore when I joined the club, and the epitome of everything that a sailing club Commodore could be expected to be. With huge thanks for his work as the indispensable results man for the Wednesday series;
    • Graham Potter, now in his second stint as club secretary; what Graham doesn't know about how everything at IBRSC works has not yet been discovered. There is also no-one better at reducing over-solemn committee meetings to helpless giggles...
    • Alf Pettit, honorary member and longest-standing member; fount of all IBRSC knowledge and instrumental in getting us going on Island Barn in 1973;
    • Ray Curtis; so many things that we take for granted at IBRSC are thanks to him, during stints as Rear Commodore House, Team Manager and many other posts;
    • Liz, Peter, Mike and Emma Curtis for large amounts of work both behind and in front of the scenes. Look out for the next generation who are already on the water!
    • The three wonderful ladies who feed us after sailing on Wednesday nights; June Curtis (catering manager for over a quarter of a century; I should make it clear that she started young!), Jan Cole (hard-working membership secretary for several busy years) and Julia Jelley (with thanks for the most welcome cup of tea that I have ever received). Their committment to the club deserves medals - June has actually received one from the RYA;
    • Alan Mallett, who can fix anything and is kept busy doing so as Rear Commodore Works, particularly when it comes to the club boats. He does all this while being a Trysail stalwart and keeping up with the endless demands of The Dog, one of IBRSC's great in absentia characters. His predecessor in the post Hugh Jervis is equally skilled and indomitable when fighting through planning permission, concrete mixing problems and getting large items delivered and installed at the club, and still does a lot of work 'behind the scenes'. Please ensure that they receive your full support at the club working parties.
    • Alexis Villiers, who can also fix anything and whose skilful, if unconventional approach has been such a highlight of the Tuesday Trysail. His patience in the face of the continuing ingenious methods found by the members to stop the engines working deserves many awards;
    • John Eversfield, who can make anything out of metal - the 'executive launch', the under clubhouse cage and a whole variety of other useful, solid, well-designed, tough contraptions make life at IBRSC easier. It was a Herculean task to find reliable, efficient contractors to revamp the outside of the clubhouse, but he did it, and we now set out from a smart white building that should do us proud for many years;
    • Bernd Steinlechner for two entertaining years at the front of his ISO, including some memorable go-fast blasts, a bizarre landing on a crowded Swanage beach, and passing on an incurable addiction to asymmetric spinnakers. Thanks, Bernd.
    • Mike Jones; the amount of work and time that he puts in for the club makes us wonder if there might be two of him! IBRSC is now the place to be for Topper training and sailing, and for juniors to learn to sail. He's now promoting the 29er as well; with his track record, watch this space. We continue to marvel at his stamina and his patience and rapport with the sailing school juniors at all levels, who clearly enjoy their sailing so much. Also Tessa and Andy Groves, Jim Champ and Andy Howard, and all the other parents who help out.
    • Alasdair Maclean, always cheerful despite a heavy workload of keeping the Solos supplied with beer, chauffering talented children all over the country, watching his garden disappear under a pile of boats and (like the rest of us) not minding when said children sail faster than he does! (oh, and being an invaluable part of Team Tuesday Trysail T-shirt)
    • All the other wonderful people who work so hard on the Tuesday Trysail; Carl Mayhew who set up the new format, Jim Champ, Glyn Jarvis, Noel Reeve, David Simpson, David Lawton, Robin Carter plus many of those mentioned above. Good luck for the 2004 season!
    • The ultimate unsung heroes: Brian and Sonia Withers who transform a damp muddy clubhouse into a clean dry one, week after week. Please do everything possible to make their work a little less onerous;
    • Tony Kelly and Paul Newman, the new owners of our Lasers; happy landings!
    • Glyn Jarvis (new webmaster), Meryl Yates (new publicity officer), Noel Reeve (new Trysail manager) and Natalie Butcher (new Bonanza editor). Good luck and I hope I have left things tidy for you;
    • The RS400 helms (previously the ISO helms...) who provide that effortless 'step in and go' sailing that those of us who carry half our boat round with us can only dream of, and are especially appreciated when rigging a Laser is just too much trouble after a late night. Stuart Costigan, Nick Fribbens, Mark 'Red Suit and Black Boots' Taylor, Carl Mayhew and Steve Bell;
    • My good friends Amelia and Chloe Pemberton;
    • Jim Champ: website guru, results master, Trysail teacher, race coach, Cherub Association President, Sailing School stalwart and designer of the Plus Plus, the boat where the beam was determined by the gap in the IBRSC water fence!
    • Mike Barnard, for getting us into this sailing thing in the first place.

    It has been so much fun to be a member at Island Barn, which might explain why the club has become our second home for the last few years. (we can't escape - it's at the bottom of the garden!) We will miss its friendly atmosphere, fun competition and all the good people there; we might not miss the winter sailing! Andy and I hope to visit you whenever we can, and please let us know if your paths will cross ours: track our adventures on, by entering the username heleng. Good luck, good health and good sailing to you all.

    Until the next time...

    Helen Gerald, October 2003