Regatta Report 2015
“Right, that’s it! We can lay the mark, stand by to tack!”
Twelve months ago Alex Haig crewed as a ‘ringer’ on the Radley boat and felt Cheltenham ought to have a crew in the race. It sounded fun and I agreed to organise it. The call went out for volunteers and by July the Old Cheltonian Society had kindly made a grant and I had more volunteers than spaces available.
The Arrow Trophy is an offshore sailing regatta for former pupils of independent schools held in Cowes and using the Sunsail F40 fleet based in Port Solent. After picking up the boat and sailing, or motoring, across to Cowes you have an evening ashore on Friday. On Saturday there is a day’s racing followed by the regatta dinner in the RORC. On Sunday, it’s fleet racing for the majority and match racing for the top four from Saturday’s results. Then it’s back to Port Solent and away.
The final crew position list:
We agreed to take the boat for an extra day and familiarise ourselves with the rig and get some training in. Meeting at 1100 at Port Solent on Friday we tried some ‘dry drills’ alongside before setting off for Cowes, calling in at Haslar to collect Paul Koch, who had driven over from Holland that day. Alastair McRobert couldn’t escape London in time and joined us in Cowes. A very mellow sail with a light following breeze brought us alongside the Cowes Yacht Haven at sunset. Time for a bit of a ‘sort out’, make lunch for the next day and a beer, before heading out to supper at The Coast. Some elected for the B&B option; the remainder went for the cozy option of sleeping on board.
We awoke on Saturday morning to a calm and tranquil October mist. After a very hearty, unhealthy breakfast at the Duke of York’s we met the other crews for a race brief at 8am. Rush to wait. However, the breeze built and soon we headed out to the area of Bramble Bank. Race 1 was the first windward/leeward shake out race and we finished 18th but we were also quite heavy with 12 crew up in the light airs. With the breeze continuing to build, we had a better start for Race 2, another windward/leeward course, and some good work on the foredeck hoisting, gybing and dropping the spinnaker; we finished in 5th place after taking an alternative course over the tide that paid dividends. We had a quick lunch before Race 3, in which we finished 15th, whoops! By now the wind had picked up and after a cracking start for Race 4 someone had kicked the competitive switch in the crew and in the fleet. With the best wind of the day it was all hands to stations to make every knot we could to get ahead. After an excellent race we finished 12th out of 21 crews. Pleased with our first run out we headed back to Cowes Yacht Haven and a well deserved beer.
The regatta dinner was hosted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, in the building formerly known as the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, where about 260 of us gathered in a marquee, with a screen for the England / Australia rugby World Cup match! The match wasn’t so good but the dinner was excellent. In the prize giving speech (for last year’s results!) we got a mention as a new crew and the fact that we had the biggest range in ages for any crew, from Nick Peace at 73 to Eoin Hughes at 18. We also had a big range of experience and ability. David Miller had the most experience, especially on the F40 boats. He was able to take the crew around the boat and muster the foredeck into action, which was extremely useful. Many had experience of cruising sailing so getting to grips with racing came with a bit of hard work and application, just doing things a bit faster and with a bit more critical attention.
We witnessed Sunday’s dawn as the sun rose gloriously above the treeline while we were on our way to another Duke of York’s breakfast, but with even less wind than the day before. Meeting for the race brief at 8.30am we had to ‘rush to wait’ again, but by 1000 we were heading out to north of Bramble Bank for the last 2 windward/leeward fleet races. The breeze had picked up more quickly than the previous day and we had 2 good starts. With the top 4 crews away match racing the rest of us could compete for the remaining places and at times the normal calls of ‘starboard’ and ‘duck’ could be heard on the windward beats as boats narrowly missed each other. Our quick protest against Wellington on the finishing line was won and they had to go around to finish again, securing one place better for us in the first race where we finished in 5th place.
Determined to improve in the last race, every effort went into making the boat go faster. The result was a few hiccups in handling that cost us time, and on one occasion probably 4 places. However, I noticed other crews doing the same thing…as we sailed by, quietly satisfied that we were doing very well and we regained the places lost before and more, swooping past 6 boats in a cluster at a leeward mark. We finished the last race in 9th place. A farewell and appreciative call on the radio to the RORC Race Committee from us in “Sunsail 4011” and we were bound for a sporty, beat to windward to return to Port Solent. On the way some of the crew had a go at helming, the rest of us relaxed at 40 degrees to the horizontal in the stiff breeze, after putting in the first reef on the main.
Overall we finished in 8th place for the fleet racing and 12th in total. Winchester won first place and Bradfield were second, and we did beat Radley. I am sure we proved ourselves worthy competition and we are keen to return next year. Perhaps more importantly, we all had a great weekend racing in great company and with great weather. We were all grateful for the support from the Old Cheltonian Society by way of a grant, and to Nick Peace for helping the Committee to understand the opportunity. Thanks also deservedly go to the Arrow Trophy Committee for organising the event and to Sunsail Port Solent for making the fleet available. More results and information can be found by searching “Arrow Trophy” on the internet. Contact me about next year!
Back: Nigel Powell, Nick Peace, Philip Gossage.
Middle: Jack Forrester, Sean Searight, Paul Koch, Alex Haig.
Front: Eoin Hughes, Mark Glowrey, Andrew Gossage, David Miller, Alastair McRobert.