Sunday, July 31, 2016

London welcomes the Clipper fleet home

Back in 2013 I was on the banks of the Thames watching the Clipper fleet head out to undertake a circumnavigation.

In those three years those yachts, raced by a non-professional crew, have been round the world not once but twice.

It does make me wonder what I've done in that time in comparison! A big congratulations to all those that have been involved in any leg.

It is always impressive to see Tower Bridge lift to allow a fleet of 70 foot racing yachts to sail by the Tower of London, but it was clearly much more special for friends and family of crew:

It's fair to say that lots of waving was going on:

Then they headed off the prize giving ceremonies and I headed off on my bike for this year's London's Free Cycle event.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

RIB blasting earworm music

Last weekend I joined Solent RIB Charter for a spot of America's Cup World Series watching.

They're based in Lymington so to get over to Portsmouth there was a woosh down the Solent at a fab 38 knots.

It was an absolute blast but needed a rocking sound track. But thanks to Earworm Radio (TM) I was able to tune into the track The City by The 1975 (above).

der der der.... "in the city" der der der dum

Or something like that.

The return to Lymington was meant to be a wet wind against tide affair but Bruce and Hannah from Solent RIB Charter were good enough to drop me off at Gunwharf Quay along with a host of other ACWS boats for the fast train back to London.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sassi celeb watches at the ACWS!!!

Hi Guys!

OMG, is JP like totally USELESS!! Take this America's Cup race thing last weekend. I mean, first up he didn't bring ANY Pimms or bubbly! Huh!

Then he kept taking pictures of totally the wrong thing! Like above - ok, there was this Spithill fella but look whats behind!! Top tip - what are the TV camera's focusing on guys?

Yes, it was her highness herself, Kate, with Will too!! O.M.G!! But what do I see in JP's stack of photos but just a couple of pics of the back of her head:

Of course we're not just talking Kate and Wills, there was also, get this, JODIE KIDD:
Holy cow I love that woman!

What a day!

Luv ya!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

America's Cup World Series: at the start

When watching racing out on the water one key question is where to hang around. There's always the problem that whatever position you chose you'll only see part of the race close up and the rest of time the boats will be zooming away some distance off.

We spent the whole of the ACWS on Sunday at the start, which was probably the best choice, but not necessarily because of the racing.

Yes, we could see the start well (above) but the best bit was the boats were really close for quite some time and at least partly when not racing the crew could be seen interacting, maybe talking through what was going right or wrong:

Pre-race they didn't have to keep to the course so really came quite close, with AC45s going either side of our RIB.
As the clock counted down to the next start, focus returned and they headed away towards the next race:

Monday, July 25, 2016

America's Cup World Series: the Competition

So how did the competitors in America's Cup World Series (ACWS) compare since its last visit to Portsmouth?

Last year it was Team New Zealand that impressed, but this time it felt more like a two-boat race between Jimmy Spithill (above) and Ben Ainslie (see yesterday's post).
Dean Barker's SoftBank had improved while Team New Zealand slipped back. After racing, TNZ was one of the first to head back to base rather than doing a few more celebratory sail-bys, as were Oracle and BAR:
At the back there tended to be Groupama and Artemis:
In each race the first to the first mark also won the race, with no changes in the leader and the second place boat always playing catch-up.

Conditions were good, with enough breeze to get all teams up on their foils.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

America's Cup World Series Portsmouth

In the pre-race warm up period it was clear who was the crowd's favourite, as could be heard from the cheers that followed every sail-by from Ben Ainslie Racing.

Sir Ben himself seemed pensive, unless he'd been kept awake by the cries of his new born daughter:
But he totally nailed the first race start, streaking on a broad-reach towards the first mark:
The first race must have been the crowd's favourite, with Sir Ben heading back down from the upwind mark as the others continued to tack up to it:
The first win went his way, but there were two more race to come, and on Super Sunday there were double points up on offer.

The next two starts were won convincingly by Oracle, but Sir Ben was able to keep in touch, grabbing second place both times.

It was enough to win the Portsmouth event and put Ben Ainslie Racing on top!

Hurrrah!! Time to open that champagne!!

Great fun day out on the water.... more to come.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

More traditional boats from Henley-on-Thames

Apparently the last post was wrong in that these photos from Henley-on-Thames last weekend were from the "Thames traditional boat festival" not "classic".

But is the previously posted MTB 102 (above) really traditional given it was a prototype? Or how about this amphibious truck?
I suppose this working boat fits more with the term traditional rather than classic:
There was a lot of waving going on as can be seen above and below:
I suspect it was for the crew of the Windsor Belle not me.

However these are both traditional and classic:

 The Gloriana is of course in a class of its own:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Classic Boats At Henley-on-Thames

There were a lot of very well maintained, very shiny, mahogany classic motor boats on display at Henley-on-Thames this weekend.

However as you can see above you didn't need an engine to have something big enough for the classic man and dog pairing.
It was warm summer's day and the best way to see the boats was definitely out on the water (above and below) on the triple expansion steam-powered Windsor Belle together with a cool drink, smoked salmon sandwiches and strawberries with cream:
To be honest there are only so many classic motor boats you can see at one time, even if some of them were also "Little Ships", but it was a pleasant day out and I'd never visited Henley before:
There was also a very nice ice cream but that was eaten much too quickly for a photo.

Monday, July 11, 2016

London's navy spotted out on manoeuvres

Spotted on the Thames recently was MTB 102 (as posted on earlier), heading upriver, no doubt to guard against an invasion of London from those crazy UKIP brigades.

Ok, maybe it was going to some classic boat festival, but apparently 34% of Londoners want either independence or an assembly similar to that in Scotland.

And London already has a light cruiser capable of hitting anything that were to cross the M25 orbital motorway:
It must be admitted that HMS Belfast might not have the most up to date electronic systems but its a start!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Sailing on the Thames

No story, Sassi or Buff, just a sailing photo with some shiny wood.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Review: ICA Art Night 2016

Ok, a non-nautical post reviewing the ICA's Art Night 2016. It was a first for London, though other cities have had them, and there was much that sounded intriging in the billing, but how did it turn out?

First up was Celia Hemptom's installation at 180 The Strand that "combines abstracted landscapes and bodies that explore the source of the River Thames, to consider the river as a historical and metaphorical object". You could see why this was my first port of call but it was basically three pictures of "naked young women spreadeagled" to quote the Guardian. Think Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde in triplicate, representing the origin of the Thames.

It seemed a tenuous connection. You could put the same three picturess with the title Westminster and it could represent... well you can guess what... or something about Tampons to reflect consumerism etc. There was nothing really that said Thames to me but the view.

Score: ***** 

It would have be just the one star but the images were really quite memorable, if not really suitable for a family-friendly blog.

Next up was Nina Beier's installation Anti-Ageing in a luxury show apartment at 190 Strand. As well as the chance to nose around a posh-pad (but not for me, ground floor The Strand with its traffic noise and fumes) there were "performance sculptures" like this:
In case you're wondering what you're looking at, its a man with a face mask slowly drying while outside a man smokes a cigarette (yes that is part of the installation). Elsewhere there were two women doing yoga and a dog lying on a carpet. There were some objects I couldn't work out whether they were art or part of the show flat - such as having The Picture of Dorian Gray on the book shelves.

Indeed the phrase "but is it art"? was clearly being thought and said much on the streets of London that night. But some effort had been put in and it related to the brief so:

Score: ***** 

Next up was Jennifer West's Film Title Poem in St Mary le Strand church, which involved digitised hand painted 16mm film:
What to say.... er... "ok?"

Score: ***** 

Next along The Strand was Somerset House for Xu Zhen's "first cultural fitness exercise" ever, the Physique of Consciousness:
Basically yoga style group exercises. Reminded me of what I saw in Shanghai: mass post-work exercising on the city centre streets. Another case of .... er... "ok?"

Score: ***** 

Then up to Covent Garden for two installations from Cecila Bengolea and Jennifer West. Unfortunately one hadn't started and the other couldn't been seen until dark, so those had to be scrubbed.

Time for something to eat and the Itsu on the Strand.

Afterwards on to the Duke of York Steps and British artist and musician Linder's live theatrical tableau that "considers transformation as a state of mind". Obviously.

It had been raining earlier that evening so initially nothing was happening but I arrived at a good time as shortly afterwards it kicked off. There was a band, chorus, dancers (top), bunny / hospital costumes (below) and much more:
It wasn't clear how long it went on for but seemed to be a whole series of ~5 minute segments, each slightly different from the other. There were references to dreams which I sort of got but after 4 cycles I couldn't see what else I'd get from the event so moved on (some events had timed tickets).

Score: ***** 

Next up was Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost's After After at the Admiralty Arch. This sounded very intriguing involving "a conceptual journey through the rooms of Admiralty Arch, playing with the history, architecture and interior design". The wait to get in, alas, was an hour and there proved to be a lot less of the building accessible than hoped.

But it had its moments. My favourite was being invited into an antrium and then toilets in which two residents claimed to have been there 15 and 50 years offered glasses of vodka with squid ink shots. They asked how things were outside and we told them in no uncertain words they should stay in as the outside world had gone to pot.

The actual After After was just weird: a pitch black room was lit up by spots that switched on and off showing sculpture in corners or video clips. Much is lost but I remember a tin of beans talking to a washing sponge and a video of a women (murdered?) naked on a river / lake bank. My take away feeling was that it was a bit like experiencing a dream while awake.

Score: ****

I was tempted to give it just 3 stars because of the wait but there had at least been some work done and it resulted in a bit of thought rather than just "eh?".

Finally there as Koo Jeong A's installation in the disused Jubilee Line station at Charing Cross. Now this was potentially very exciting, as disused tube stations are always intriguing, and this one promised "a sensory environment using smell and light that considers the architecture of the Underground as a place of bodily encounters and movement". 

A lot of words but what actually did we get:
Basically access to the tube station, barriers to prevent us going onto the platforms (maybe a safety constraint), spot lights pointing inwards and some sort of incense smell. 

To be honest it felt like the artist had felt that writing the blurb was the main exercise and then buggered off leaving the hard work to TfL. It seemed like only the minimalist interpretation of the brief and a bit of wasted opportunity.

Score: ***** 

Note those stars were for seeing the disused tube platform not the art.

Overall the idea of an Art Night London felt like a great idea but wasn't sure the artists had really delivered on the briefs. There seemed to be themes between installations of dance and dreams but it wasn't clear. At times it felt like an in-joke for an inward looking art community.

But I hope it does return in 2017 and learns from the experience.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

The floating, grabbing digger machine

I saw this green digger make its way down to the Thames and thought it had got the tides wrong.

It was heading downriver where the gravel was being levelled at a dock used for large boats carrying aggregates. I expected it to wait until low water and then make its way along the dry edge of the shoreline, but it rushed into the deep water.

Turned out it floats and can drag its way along using its arm as a forward punting pole, like something out of a Top Gear special.

These kayakers seemed pretty gob-smacked (to use the technical word).