Penrose Sails Champagne Pursuit series, 14/10/17, Race 3 of 5

Was Saturday 14th October the calm before “Ophelia”? Roger Little in the ops room at midday was toying with the idea of a light winds course as there was very little off the club and even less in the Roads! In the event we went out and sailed the course, which is one of my favourites as it takes us up the Roads to Pill Creek. The white flag was hoisted and RFA Argus came into the docks on the last of the rising tide as we prepared to start. John Cruise set off in Mary Boon followed by Mike Chard in Puffin and then a little Trifle. The wind was increasing little by little and we went off down the fairway on an ever increasing starboard reach till we rounded the corner and set a starboard pole kite.

The task was to round Trefusis to starboard then Governor to port. Across the Roads and Castle to port, Vilt to starboard, St Just to port, Carrick to starboard and Pill to starboard. With the 8-knot wind from the south it made a great spinnaker run all the way up river with lots of gybing practice on the way. Once Pill was rounded a long beat back downstream leaving Messack to starboard and North Bank to starboard, Finish! 8 plus miles.

Trefusis was rounded and a beat to Governor ensued into a surprising loppy seaway. We started to play catchup with the two ahead but just as it seemed we were getting closer there was a soggy patch and we fell back a bit. Governor was rounded and a close reach ensued with Mary Boon and Puffin seemingly heading quite high on the Castle buoy. Castle was rounded and we set a starboard pole kite, dropped the headsail and gybed onto port pole, again the other two seemed quite high and we just plugged the rhumb line toward Vilt. There were 12 boats behind us all trying to play catchup! Some better than others. Puffin was white sailing and as such we overtook her halfway down the leg. Mary Boon was slowly coming closer but rounded Vilt ahead. My crew did a blinder of a gybe and we chased to St Just but John Cruise just kept us at bay rounding half a boat length ahead. Again a cracking gybe (it's all on the Go Pro footage) and I was tempted to go to weather of John. Sense prevailed, (no luffing match here!) and we dived off to leeward of him again sailing the rumb line toward Carrick buoy. This time it worked and we squeezed inside overlap on the buoy another great gybe and we set off for Pill.

I have very fond memories of this end of the roads as we kept four boats at Loe Beach over the 40 plus years of sailing in the world's best waters!!! We set off on the beat and the wind perked up giving us a nice pace. The lumpy bumpy bits on the eastern shore got close and we tacked off getting stronger wind in the middle of the river. North Bank was in our sights when the first of the chasers crossed us. Juno with three up! Although she sailed well and took line honours unfortunately guys we have not got a race entry form or promissory note so you do not get a score. We carried on toward Trefusis shore? Okay the wind was shifty but seemed strong enough. Pasco's Viper came through us on starboard and the crew were genuinely surprised to see how close I passed their stern (very close!).

Trefusis and the harbour entrance provided us with a Jupiter sized amount of frustration as Jackdaw, Black Dog, Scorpion and Encore all sailed past us at breakneck speed pointing high while we hit the headers and lulls 20 feet away from them. Two tacks gave 130° angles and in dismay I could see Puffin, chuffin' up toward us in her own private bluster. We held our own to the beginning of the fairway with a series of luffs. Bob Chapple on Puffin quipped that strictly come dancing was on at 7pm!. At last we could bear away and set our kite on port pole. That will show them? Huh no! We sat in a lull while Puffin chuffed to windward of us. Not to be outdone I pointed us just above his stern and drove up into the breeze and took the lead back to the finish line.

Viper won the race with Jackdaw second and Black Dog third.

Thanks to Roger, Nessie and Paul in the ops room. Liz in the kitchen with andsome cakes and tea. Giles the boat who counted us all out and counted us all back.

The latest on the Met Office synoptic chart is for Ophelia to track up the western edge of Ireland where the worst of the wind will be. We should expect strong (60 to 70 mph) winds and giant waves on the west coast. Just think you could smoke a Hamlet in the eye of the storm and watch the smoke go up vertically! Some of you will understand that one? Fingers crossed.

A reminder from Aries to Hawk that they may want to attend the rules talk on Tuesday. Stand on and give way vessel etiquette.

Chris Jelliss