After two cancelled starts due to bad weather and floating debris, February's Fast Cruise to Cowes on Saturday was third time lucky - and boy, were we lucky. What a treat it was to be on the water and, with only one more race left in the series before the gala prize giving at The Royal Marine's Museum in March, the competition went up a gear.
Fantastic conditions due to the stationary high pressure gave us Champagne Fast Cruising in perfect short sleeve conditions - on the down wind legs that is. Down wind legs with 10 to 15 knots apparent wind were the main feature of the race and the fleet quickly split into two - those flying spinnaker or assymetric, and those with only white sails.
According to the rules there was a ten minute window at the start but competition was fierce to be over the start line just east of the forts exactly on the horn, an indication of how seriously the 17 skippers were taking this race in an effort to secure or improve their position for the final on 15th March. Those boats at the northern end of the start line were just able to beat to the first mark without tacking before rounding onto a short beam reach followed by a broad reach back to the start line.
A lovely down wind leg then took them half way up the Eastern Solent before starting an into the wind / downwind sausage followed by a big triangle and finally a run home downwind to the finish in Cowes Roads - 22nm of exhilarating, crisp, fast sailing.
Dinner was an LSC take-over by 72 ravenous members of an authentic Isle of Wight curry house, and by then the results had been compiled. First place on corrected time was Bill Blaine's J109 Batfish, followed by Paul Turner's Grand Soleil Artemis, and Lynn Griffiths' Temptress in third. Sobriety, series leader prior to the race, had to make do with 8th place - mostly due to the amount of Scotch owner Barry Brinsmead was carrying onboard on what was clearly always going to be a downwind race. Furious attempts to re-position the Scotch to the back of the boat didn't trim his Jeanneau 35 sufficiently well to make up for his lack of canvas.
Among other highlights, Bill Lewis in his Oyster Heritage Musyk, last years series winner, battled with gear failure to his main sheet traveller and Tim Bizzey in an unfamiliar charter boat with no downwind sails brought her home a creditable 40 corrected minutes behind the winner. New competitor Jof Buttery in his Hanse 400 Grey Goose fought to tame an impressive grey spinnaker and Graham Pinner's Snoek missed a key mark in the triangle part of the course and accounted for an elapsed time of over 7 hours. "I'm delighted to have finished" said Graham proudly.
Top three in the series so far with all to play for are Martyn Graham's Sadler 32, Willow, followed by Sobriety and Brian Humber's light weight Barracuda 45 in third place. In the IRC class Temptress leads Artemis in second place, with Roger Graham's Contessa Wight Wizard still in the running for the silver ware.
The next race is an 1100 start on Saturday 15th March, ending at Gunwharf Quays. The series prizes will be awarded by Tom Cunliffe, himself no slouch on a race course, who sadly, but thankfully is unwilling to test his 40 foot wooden gaffer against the rest of the fleet.
Following an extensive tendering process the Club has awarded the contract for running the restaurant and catering services to Chester Boyd.
>The committee examined submissions from three different companies and decided on Chester Boyd because they offered best value for money, coupled with an extensive marketing network which was felt to be of significant benefit to the future of the Club.
The Club is planning a series of DVDs to be used for promotion and recruitment and needs members with video cameras to start shooting!
Video footage will be collected over the course of 2008 covering as many of the Clubs activities as possible both in the Clubhouse and on the water.
If you have a suitable video camera and are taking part in any of the Clubs events, please contact Silke Zimmermann, rear-commodore membership (firstname.lastname@example.org) with details of what you can offer to this project.
Since the end product will be widescreen (16:9), the footage offered should also be in this format.
The preferred video style is DV or Mini DV tape.
DVD based systems are equally suitable.
Systems based on hard-disc recording are less easy to handle, due to the difficulty of transferring the material to the editing facility.
All footage should be shot using a tripod wherever possible
If you have any queries about the suitability of your system or anything else of a technical nature, please contact the producer Pete Newbury. (email@example.com or 07711 495739)
HPO for Guernsey, Fiona French, was belatedly presented with RWJ Gibbons Ladies Cup at the annual HPO dinner on 14 January. Fiona was awarded the trophy last year as the lady member who has done the most for the furtherance of yachting both in and outside the Club.
The Clubs annual photo competition has now been judged and a full report will appear in the next issue of the magazine, out in April.
Organiser Anne Malcolm, would like to thank all those who entered the competition; entries will be available for collection from the Club office by the last week in February.
Saturday's fast cruise race is cancelled.
Fast cruise organiser Mark Miles has just called Solent CG and QHM re. Nav Warning 1/08 and has called off Saturday's race. The 2,000 tonnes of timber washed from the deck of the Ice Prince when she sank off Portland Bill was reported in Sandown Bay this morning and has already appeared at the Nab. It is expected to start being washed ashore near Selsey overnight and tomorrow. They expect it to be picked up by the tide in the deep water channel and head towards the forts tomorrow - just as we expect to start our FC. Some of the bales of wood (3m x 3m x 10m) have broken up into 10m lengths. Some are intact and mostly submerged. Huge sheets of plywood (four 8x4 sheets joined together) are also in the raft of debris. Both QHM and the CG "STRONGLY RECOMMEND" the LSC do not try and have a yacht race through the middle of it.
Weather forecasts are all over the place for tomorrow but Solent CG said gales today and - at worst - it could be F6 gusting F8 tomorrow, rough or very rough, and raining. This won't help with looking out for bits of sunken wood the size of Temptress, adds Mark.
"The sad fact is that we have been made aware of the problem, we have asked for advice, and both QHM and the CG have told us not to do it. Under these circumstances there's nothing we can do but call it all off. I'm Sorry."
Dinner has been cancelled at the Langstone Hotel. If any Northney based crews, or anybody else who wants to go there, decide to eat at the Langstone then they will be very happy to see you as they have food and staff for an additional 60 people on Saturday night. Just give them a call to let them know. "Temptress won't be going. We will be holed up and dreaming of a place where the sun always shines and cargo remains on ships decks," says Mark.
The Club was packed for the event which brings together its honorary port officers from home and abroad to recognise the contribution they make to the smooth passage of Club members when visiting foreign ports.
Each HPO was asked to give a brief report on his or her area; we heard from the Turkish contingent of azure waters and balmy breezes; Cairns Burrell, our new HPO for eastern Scotland, spoke about drying harbours and a thriving sailing scene (although a little colder); Captain Roy Facey, the HPO for Yemen spoke of a recent collision between a super tanker and a cargo ship which had left one with a hole in its side 25 metres deep; Chris Collman, our Minorcan representative exhorted members to come to the classic yacht regatta in September; and Dominic O'Flynn and Wietse Buwalda our representatives from Cork, did a great double act and said they were delighted to report a one hundred per cent increase in Little Ship burgees this year having had one visitor from the Club.
Closer to home, Ken Burton of the Western Solent spoke of changes in marinas, moorings and ferries; Tom Davey from Burnham on Crouch reported an increase in upmarket wine bars at Burnham and our HPO from Falmouth told us that if it all went pear-shaped in his waters you were only 7 minutes flying time from Culdrose and close to the coastguard station that coordinates rescue at sea for the world!
Anne Le Verrier's great contribution to the Club as honorary librarian was recognised at the HPO dinner. In the photo she is seen being presented with a bouquet of flowers by the commodore, Keith Irons.
Flying the flag:
HPO liaison officer Chris Nicholson (left) hands over an HPO burgee to
Rod Bennett, newly appointed representative for Falmouth
Club president Sir Robin Knox-Johnston won the prestigious Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year for an unprecedented third time, for his amazing circumnavigation of the globe in the VELUX 5 Oceans race last year.
Sir Robin, receiving the award last week, said: I wasnt expecting this, it has come as a complete surprise.
Nominated alongside disabled sailor Geoff Holt, Skandia GBR Team members Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, and fellow VELUX 5 OCEANS competitor Mike Golding, Sir Robin said it was a tremendous honour to be chosen from such a great group of people.
It is the UKs top yachting trophy and something Im very proud of winning.
Despite a weekend of gale force winds across the south, a stalwart troop of Little Ship revellers were determined to make it to the Folly in fancy dress for the December fast cruise party.
Many crews had already cancelled when the Gosport-based boats set out for the start on Saturday, but when race organiser Lynn Griffiths in Temptress headed back for her home port she was quickly followed by Troika, Positive Thinking and Odin. The race was abandoned although Mary Lunn, proving that traditional boats dont do texts, sailed the whole course and found her way to the Folly. Alan Crux in Synergy (built for comfort not for speed) also made it to Cowes, as did Batfish and Team Charter based in the Hamble.
But those Gosport boats had fancy dress and were determined to party. After a hasty bit of regrouping and rearming they gathered up their glad rags and went over on the car ferry. Odin was incognito as a pantomime reindeer; Mary Lunns crew were looking a little green at the gills (must have been all that sailing) as Christmas trees; Troika took the get smarter prize with their top hats and tails; Team Charter were an unholy nativity of the angel Gabriel, Mary and Joseph (sadly having lost the King and the Shepherd due to inclement crew conditions); Batfish did a Hawaiian turn and Roger Graham was either recycling his Halloween costume or dressing in honour of his boat, Wight Wizard.
Of the 126 fast cruisers booked to take part, it was just 35 hard core party-goers who got to the island and made it a night to remember.
The next fast cruise is on Saturday 19 January from the start line to Northney (Langstone Hotel) and fingers crossed for better weather no excuses for the Chichester boats not to make it that weekend though!
A blustery day with a force 5 from the West greeted the fast-cruisers as they made their way to the start for the second fast cruise of the season on Saturday 10 November. With Snoek unable defend her win from the previous race, the field was wide open.
Chichester-based Ronhilda, plugging against the westerly tide and into the wind was struggling to make it to the Solent for the 1030 start and called up the Organiser who brusquely told the Barracudas captain they would overtake them anyway. Odins skipper had failed to set the alarm clock and his First Lieutenant was heard calling up the Organiser apologising for their tardiness. In the event both Odin and Ronhilda made it to the line within the allowed 10 minutes of the official start.
With a course set to finish at Gunwharf Quays the first two legs were beats and although the mighty Barracuda Ronhilda is not a windward boat; she soon eased past Temptress on the second leg past No Mans Land Fort. Now out in front the pressure was on to get the course right and knowing Dons awesome handicapping system, the pressure was on to put as much water between the 45 Barracuda and other smaller boats with better handicaps.
Approaching the Bob Kemp racing buoy, Ronhildas skipper called the Organiser again to confirm the buoy was actually there: It should be, but if not plot the coordinates and round it as if it is virtually there, came the crisp tones of the Organiser over the VHF. Much more of this and we could save a bit of time and do the whole thing virtually from the comfort of the pontoon.
But what was this? Toy Box and Artemis were heading in the opposite direction. Theyd taken the long lie-in option and were only just coming up to the start.
The course took the boats out to the Bembridge Cardinal and back into the wind and tide. With a couple of long downwind legs, kettles were put on and biscuits eaten before rounding the most Southerly point of the course and heading back into the wind for a long beat to the finish. One of the great things about crewing on Ronhilda is that you get a good upper body workout even when not winching as the boat heels over and you do the equivalent of mountaineering to get up to the high side.
So the Barracuda slid over the line first, in a time of 3 hours and 37 minutes. The Skipper decided to make the most of the pleasant afternoon sunshine and gentler breeze to sail back and watch the other boats finish, Otherwise well just get in too early and get pissed like we did last time, he announced.
Heading back into harbour the Barracuda steamed past Temptress again just as she was calling up the harbour master asking for help with a stricken Sunsail boat she had taken in tow. There was Ultimo already tied up and drinking tea, they had done two legs, seen the bright lights of Portsmouth and decided to head straight there.
After a chilly pontoon party in the shelter of the STS Prince William, there was a quick turn around to make it to Caf Rouge for dinner where there was much debate about the results. The late starters had found favourable tides and easier winds and were both placed in the top four much to the disgruntlement of the other crews whod missed their lie-ins. Racing secrets were shared; with Troika admitting its secret weapon for a good race had been the specially prepared race food provided by its missing crew member who runs a racing charter company.
The organiser had booked a berth at Tiger, Tiger that well-known chain of salubrious nightclubs with an outlet at Gunwharf Quays. Those hardy souls who can cope with early mornings, chilly winds and late nights went off to mix it with the sweet young things of Portsmouth while others repaired to cosy cabins for nightcaps and early nights.
As the fleet prepared to leave the next morning the crew of Team Charter emerged looking more like pussycats than tigers, having made the most of the clubbing experience. An Imminent Gale Warning came over the radio which hastened the departure of several boats to return home. And finally, Big Dons Handicapping system was altered to give a time penalty to the late starters, which pushed humble Dufour 31, Positive Thinking into first place; gave Ronhilda second and Troika third.
The next Fast Cruise is to the Folly Inn, Saturday 8 December, Christmas Party, Fancy Dress optional.
The Clubhouse was heaving with 130 members attending the end of season laying up supper and prize-giving last Tuesday. Queens Waterman, Chris Livett was piped in to the prize-giving ceremony to give trophies and medals to the many Club members who have contributed to the Club and achieved recognition in the last year.
After eating and drinking, Chris Livett entertained us with his tales of the riverbank. Having spent a colourful career working on the Thames, from the docks to running the rubbish barges which take away the waste of London, he had amusing anecdotes to tell of his various activities. These ranged from coordinating the river sequence for Pierce Brosnan in The World Is Not Enough (although judging from the punchline this could have been a salty story) and quipping with Ken Livingstone about tying his rubbish barges up outside City Hall.
He commented on how pleasantly surprised he was by the buzz about the Club: If this is the laying up supper, the fitting out dinner must be something else!
Read the full list of winners