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RORC De Guingand Bowl 2017 - Mostly (Cold) Champagne Sailing - Blog by Rob

 

We love knowing about what the offshore crews get up to! Here’s a great write up of last weekend’s RORC De Guingand Bowl Race from Lancelot II crew member, Rob. He’s a very recent convert to this crazy offshore world and now he’s off to RORC London Clubhouse to collect his first race medallion already!

On Friday evening, I walked up the pontoon to meet my crewmates for the RORC De Guingand Bowl who were already onboard Lancelot II. We were a scratch crew of mixed ability – Peter (lots of experience and going on to do the Fastnet), Thomas (experienced, but not been able to sail recently), Craig (a powerboat instructor and sailing old-hand), Kingsley (who I ‘d met previously on my Sailing Logic ‘Intro to Racing’ course), Juan (lots of sailing in Spain and looking forward to some English tidal racing) and me (started sailing in February and climbing a very steep learning curve!).

Our Skipper Jon and First Mate Jim ran us through the safety briefing before we departed to the pub for a ‘get to know one another’ and a race briefing session.

An early night, followed by an early start, saw us all back on the boat by 6.45am to prep for the race. A quick motor over to Cowes and we were on the start line. We presented ourselves for the Identity Gate and at 9.30am, we were off and heading west with the rest of the fleet past the No-Man’s Land Fort and on out to the turning point at New Ground Buoy to head south around the Isle of Wight.

The thin morning cloud evaporated as we passed St Catherine’s Light and we hoisted the Code Zero as we passed the Needles in glorious sunshine on our way to round the North Head Buoy at Milford.

The fleet spread out as we headed down the coast, most pushing further offshore to take advantage of the current. Jon and Jim had a quick ‘conference’ and hit on a strategy that was to be a game-changer. Instead of following the fleet out, we would stay close and let the outgoing tide from Poole push us out onto track for the rounding at East Shambles Buoy. A cunning plan!

As we closed on the buoy it was clear we’d made significant gains and were well placed near the front end of the fleet – possibly 4th even? Everything to play for on the homeward run then. With the J2 up we sailed into the setting sun as Jon made the case for us sleeping on the rail to maintain speed! St Catherine’s Light was again a welcome sight in the rapidly cooling evening as we shivered our way homewards.

The Spinnaker went up (the first time at night for many of the crew) for the run down to Bembridge, which went without a hitch. All good. Our fortunes changed halfway through the subsequent spinnaker drop when a large cargo ship suddenly appeared from the camouflage of the shoreline lights and evasive action was needed - quickly. All well and good, except that at that precise moment we lost the lazy guy and the spinnaker took off upwards and outwards. To make things even more complicated, the halyard got itself all knotted up in the jammer and Jon’s options were suddenly getting limited. With little room to bear away, Jim was forced to cut the halyard away and we grabbed the foot of the spinnaker to bring it in and down the companionway before it went overboard. Drama over, we all settled back to our places on the rail and prayed that we hadn’t blown our chances of a placing.

As we sailed back up the Solent I think we all felt we might have blown it, but after crossing the line at 1.55am, we checked the finishing rankings on the RORC website – we were 3rd in Class and 13th overall! A great feeling to do so well with a really nice bunch of guys that didn’t even know each other less than two days ago.

We arrived back to Sailing Logic at about 3.15am and hit the sack for some much earned kip! Thanks Jon and Jim. A cracking race and so much learned!

 


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