2017 Cherbourg

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Results Channel Series

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  • 2017 Cherbourg

Report from David Lewis who joined Destiny for this race

The PYRA fleet assembled in the Swash channel for the 1st cross channel race of the season. Destiny had slipped her berth at Parkstone Haven slightly ahead of schedule due to the very low tide and we came out with .1 under the keel. Not so lucky for Pluto who left 10 mins behind only to catch the mud and therefore had their own race to join us in Cherbourg later.

The start was uneventful as we went over the line on the tails of Nick Fuller’s new A35 Amigos on the gun under the watchful eye of Blue Extasy, our start boat and race officer for the race. Due to the strong 105% tidal coefficients running that day, we were keen to tack and get us much easting in as we could to cover the strong west going tide expected off the French coast, a mistake as it later turned out. The boats that crept in close under the cliffs and into Swanage bay gained a big advantage. We put in about 14 miles of easting before the tide turned to carry us west. Was it enough?

Meanwhile Grey Silkie and our sponsor Mark Carey’s new A31 Zorra 3 looked liked they wanted a lot more as they kept way over to the East. What did they know! Was the wind which we read as moving from southerly to east south east and eventually to easterly not going to shift? Were they hoping to be able to get a spinnaker run to the finish line. Who knew their thinking as we started to head towards our destination. The sun came out but it was still cold and in untrue racing terms the crew gradually succumbed to the luxury of a protected cockpit. Unlike of course on Blue Extasy where the crew frozen to the weather rail were fed on a full English breakfast and hot soup to keep them there courtesy of Jackie.

Grey Silkie then tracked across in front of us and slid off to the west before heading up into Cherbourg. We came into the outer Rade and hoisted our spinnaker for the dash to the finish line.

At results time The Grey Silkie came in third – we thought we had not done enough so it was a fourth. However the clock does not lie and we were announced as second to Blue Extasy. So feeding on the rail is obviously the answer so well done to Jackie.

The next day was the PYRA annual boules competition held on the green.

However we had to find a different bit of turf as they were running a boat show on most of it. Destiny had the tactic of loosing the match to get back to the boat before the rain became even heavier. However every time this looked like happening somebody in the team forgot the rule and before we knew where we were we were into the final against Chris and his crew from Escapade. The rain was now coming down horizontally and thus the pressure got to the Escapade team and Destiny grabbed victory.

The rendezvous was at the yacht club. Pyra was taking up a lot of space and making a lot of noise so the prize giving was held out in the rain again before we all rushed into the warm of the yacht club for an excellent meal.

Tactics were discussed whilst no mention was made of the impending news yet to arrive. The wind which was due to be south westerly for a brisk spinnaker run home had changed it’s mind. Westerly going north easterly force 8!!!!!!.

With a gale in the forecast PYRA rules state a race cannot be held. The decision to cancel was deferred to the morning and so for a 7am start the skippers assembled at 05.00 for a quick briefing. Yes, the racing was cancelled but after careful analysis of the weather pattern 4 boats, Dequilla, Hope and Glory, Blue Extasy and Destiny decided that a delayed start to 13.00 would work with only 2 to 3 hours in a westerly gale. So with 3 reefs in the main and lots of turns in the genoa we set off with nervous trepidation. As we went out through the outer Rade the French weather authorities came on the radio with a bulletin to say that the weather was a force 8 going to force 9 but it would blow through by 15.00. The next weather forecast omitted the 15.00 shut off time. Had we miscalculated!!!!

We saw the wind increase from 25 to 30 as we cleared the Rade. It settled at 35/37 with the most seen at 41. We sped northwards not quite managing 10 knots through the water. It was wild but the boat was comfortably set up and without the pressure of racing the crew-began to relax and take in a sandwich. David  enjoyed his so much he decided to see it again and decorated the lee side of Destiny. Perhaps ham ementhall and Gorgonzola was not the best choice but when they were made the plan was a spinnaker sleigh ride home. Eventually (2 and half hours later) blue sky was seen ahead and we were through. The wind moderated to 18 knots and we were under powered so all reefs were shaken out and we headed home with the wind gradually getting closer and closer to northerly. We were home by 11.30pm after a very enjoyable and fun packed if wet and cold weekend

So all in all thanks to Phil for taking me and PYRA for organising it. The decision was right.

Signed Destiny – Phil, Mark, Graham, Chris and David


Left Cherbourg at 1630 right after the wind blew through. Easy overnight sail with remarkably no real after effect in the sea state. Tied up at Poole YC 0800 Tuesday.

Zorra 3

Our sponsor had clearly been watching the weather and chose to return home on Sunday, so missing his sponsored evening. Luckily  he did leave some cash for the event so winners enjoyed bottles of wine with dinner!

Pluto and Amigo

Abandoned their boats in the marina and caught the ferry home along with some crew from other boats.

The Grey Silkie and Maris Otter

Stayed in port over night and returned later in the week.

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