(Article in Yachts & Yachting and Falmouth Packet)
The first two races of the year in a series aimed at sailors who enjoy the challenge of longer coastal and offshore races, took place from Falmouth at the weekend in blustery to strong conditions.
The Cornwall Offshore Group Series COGS kicked-off the season with a race from Falmouth to Fowey on Saturday organised by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, and a return race on Sunday organised by Port of Fowey Race Organising Committee POFROC, offering sailors a two race weekend to kick-start the season’s campaign. The fifteen yachts split into classes, IRC and Byron, based on different handicap systems.
Difficulties with tides for yachts from St Mawes left four unable to take part, but despite this, fifteen yachts, the same number as last year, lined up at the start of the first race to Fowey, on Saturday which was sponsored by Sharps Brewery. COGS was delighted to welcome several new yachts to the series competing for the first time.
Conditions had been forecast to be light, with winds under 10 knots for Saturday’s race. But the breeze quickly built, leaving boats that had set out with larger light-wind headsails over pressed for the long beat, down to the range marks 10 miles from Dodman Point. From the Dodman it was a case of bearing away and hanging on, for the final blast to Fowey.
A prize-giving took place at the Royal Fowey Yacht Club, and sailors enjoyed a cheap pint from the race sponsors and a warm welcome from the club. Overnight, the strong southerly wind sent a swell into the harbour giving sailors a bouncy night on their moorings.
Some forecasts had predicted the possibility of 24-39 knots for Sunday’s return race, sponsored by St Austell Brewery. But Fowey race officer Chris Ogg’s own forecast during the prize giving on Saturday proved closer to reality, with the fiercer breeze blowing through overnight. But, it was still a challenging start for sailors heading out from the Royal Fowey line, to punch their way out against the swell, through the fickle winds of the river and confused sea.
Once clear, in shallow water the steep swell and strong breeze kept sailors on their toes as they worked their way out to the Cannis cardinal. Byron yachts headed straight on to the Dodman, IRC turned downwind into St Austell bay to a mark near Par Beach before turning back into the strong breeze and peaky swell for the long beat back out to the A range mark.
Adding this mark to the course was a great decision, and made for fantastic testing sailing as yachts worked their way out to sea over the swell. Once round the mark, helms bore away and it was hull speed and edge of control stuff all the way for the long fast blast back to the finish at the RCYC line in Falmouth.
COGS would like to thank both organising clubs and sponsors, and particularly race officers Neil Hopkins and Chris Ogg for generously giving up their time to make these races happen, and travel to finish the boats. The next race in the COGS series is the off-shore night race to Roscoff on May 4.
COGS held its annual prize giving last Saturday at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club in Falmouth.
Sailors from across the county filled the clubhouse for the evening to be presented with series and individual achievement trophies. In all 31 yachts competed in the offshore and coastal series in 2017.
Racers were briefed on planned changes to the racing calendar for 2018, including a new race to Fowey in September, and a new race along the French coast from Roscoff to L’Aber Wrac’h. COGS chair Andrew Laming thanked the organising clubs and the race officers who so generously give their time to run the individual races.
He also thanked Ancasta who have become a new sponsor for the new French race and Roscoff weekend which takes place during the early May Bank Holiday weekend.
A new trophy was awarded, the Mylor Chandlery for Sailor of the Year, which was presented jointly to Bob Warren and Gilly Fox, owners of Jackdaw for the dedication they had shown during their first year racing this powerful boat.
The Penrose Sailmakers Top Yacht trophy was awarded to Nightowler, owned by Mike Lithgo for being the only yacht to compete in every coastal series race.
Helford River Sailing Club won the HMS Seahawk Team trophy. The IRC Offshore Bond Pearce Vase was won by Black Dog. The coastal series in IRC was won by Juno. In Byron class the winner was Nightowler.
Racing starts again in April with a two race there a back weekender to Fowey. For more information go to www.cogsracing.org.uk/
2 handed IRC Coastal Bond Pearce Decanter
1st - Jackdaw
2 handed Byron Coastal
1st - Aura - Euan Beattie
2nd - Noon Hi - Jack Penty
IRC Coastal, Lutine Trophy
1st - Juno - HRSC 6
2nd - Daring - RCYC 9
3rd - Inn Spirit - RCYC 13
4th - Jackdaw - FSC 13
5th - Scorpion - FSC 15
6th - Just4Play - St Mawes 24
Byron Coastal - Adela Trophy
1st - Nightowler Mike LIthgo - MYC - 8
2nd - Aura Euan Beattie - MYC - 9
3rd - Xenie Paddy Royall - HRSC - 9
4th - Noon Hi - Jack Penty - FSC - 13
5th - Alice’s Mirror - Mike Garside - St Mawes - 23
Wet Sock Award
Cian - Inn Spirit
IRC Offshore Bond Pearce Vase
1st - Black Dog
2nd - Juno
3rd - Inn Spirit
4th - Carte Blanche
Team Trophy HMS Seahawk Trophy
1st - HRSC (15)
2nd - RCYC (22)
3rd - FSC (26)
4th - MYC (17)
5th - St Mawes (47)
The 7th and final race of the Coastal Offshore Group series took place on Saturday in glorious warm sunny conditions and steady breeze. The forecast weak breeze in the early morning filled in throughout the four hours of the race as fifteen yachts completed two courses around marks across Falmouth Bay to the Lizard with roughly half in each class.
The Mylor Yacht Club Lay Up Cup sponsored by Marine Team, is an annual event organized by Mylor Yacht Club, with yachts starting from a line from Pendennis Point to Black Rock. Conditions dictate the course, and a forecast of fading light breezes meant the race officer wisely chose a route he could shorten if necessary. Two fleets competing on different handicap systems contested two slightly different courses that allowed for the distance covering abilities of some of the very fast monohulls in the IRC fleet, and to give competitors in some of the slower boats in the handicap fleet a manageable day’s sailing. A great decision by the race officer to shorted the courses at a mark off Gyllyngvase beach brought all yachts home after a pleasant day on the water, by around 2pm.
The course differed from the usual COGS races which are normally long distance drag races, in that it was more like a big ‘round the cans’ course with lots of shorter legs.
A prize giving took place at Mylor Yacht Club later on Saturday with first place in both classes being taken by yachts from St Mawes Sailing Club. In IRC Pascoes Jaguar, helmed by Craig Brown, had a comfortable win by almost six minutes on corrected time over second placed Black Dog, owned and helmed by Stewart Sawyer. In the handicap fleet Gorra Knack, a GK24 owned and helmed by Steve Rendle also had a convincing win. The two handed trophies were lifted by Juno in IRC and Noon Hi in the handicap class.
In the overall season results after seven coastal races sailed, fourth place at Mylor was enough to give Scorpion, helped by Geoff Davies the win in IRC with Afrita second and Juno third.
In the handicap fleet, Aura helmed by Euan Beattie was first, Tai Mo Shan second, and Noon Hi third.
For full results see below.
Mylor Lay Up Cup results, IRC: 1st Pascoes Jaguar, 2nd Black Dog, 3rd Juno, 4th Scorpion, 5th Aftita, 6th General Khaos, 7th Elsa, 8th Jinja. Handicap fleet results: 1st Gorra Knack, 2nd Tai Mo Shan, 3rd Moondance, 4th Nightowler, 5th Celtic Spirit, 6th Noon Hi, 7th Apotheosis.
Two handed IRC results: 1st Juno, 2nd Afrita. Two handed handicap results: 1st Noon Hi, 2nd Apotheosis.
Friday 13th May saw the start of the second COGS offshore race, a cross channel dash from Falmouth to Roscoff in Brittany, organised by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club . At a distance of 95 miles and with a forecast of wind from the east this should have been a simple matter of picking the right heading, allowing for the east and west set of the tide, and a bit of sail trimming, but the race turned out to be anything but simple.
By a peculiar quirk of the Carrick Roads, the hot day cooled into a beautiful Cornish sunset and a patch of total calm descended on the Falmouth shore exactly where the nine yachts were attempting to start. While Mylor Yacht Club enjoyed great racing at the top of the river, and Royal Cornwall’s fleet sailed past with spinnakers up on the St Mawes side, the COGS boats found they were unable to beat the tide pouring in between Black Rock and the Pendennis shore. Some slowly rotating, and one having to start their engine as they feared being pushed onto the Black Rock reef.
It took nearly an hour for all the boats to even cross the start line. The very light wind puffed and died for the next six hours causing three boats to give up and head home. By 1am most of the fleet had barely covered six miles.
But then, exactly as predicted in the forecast, at exactly 1.22am, the wind surged in and filled to a superb force 4 - 5, and we were off!
The delay meant the normal tricky transit of the busy east and west bound shipping lanes happened in the daylight the following morning, making life much easier for navigators.
The first boat to arrive at the finish near the ferry terminal in Roscoff was the lightening quick Pogo 12.5 Jinja at 11.21am with the last of the fleet alongside by 3pm. The local yacht club hosted a prize giving and welcomed the Falmouth boats generously with plenty of wine, hard boiled eggs and even a few oysters.
First in IRC was the Sigma 33 Afrita and Celtic Spirit won Handicap class both from from St Mawes Sailing Club.
Results after corrected time, IRC: 1st Afrita, 2nd Daring (2 Handed), 3rd Juno, 4th Sarabande, 5th Jinja.
Handicap class: Celtic Spirit 1st
2 handed Daring 1st
Ten yachts lined up on the Black Rock start line in Falmouth on Friday for the annual night race to Roscoff. This was the second in the 2017 offshore series organised by the Cornwall Offshore Group COGS, and challenges yachts to a near enough 100 mile channel dash to the welcome of the Bloscon Marina near the historic town on the Brittany coast.
Conditions were favourable with westerly winds that varied little between 14 - 16 knots for most of the trip. The sea state was equally kind, and all made rapid progress on close reaches, with the first Pogo 12.5 Jinja, across in just 11 hours and the last across 4 hours later. Most reported fairly quiet shipping lanes and good visibility despite the afternoon having had cloud on the deck on land.
The IRC race was won by Stuart Sawyer in his new Black Dog with a 22 minute lead on corrected time on second placed Jinja, with Juno 3rd. Handicap was won by Gawain Bysouth in Celtic Spirit for the second year.
A prize giving was held at the marina followed for most by the essential trip to the town’s infamous rum bar.
Most boats headed home early on Sunday in even more favourable conditions with the sun shining.
Results: IRC: 1st Black Dog, 2nd Jinja, 3rd Juno, 4th Inn Spirit, 5th Jackdaw, 6th, Daring, 7th Carte Blanche, 8th Scorpion. Handicap: 1st Celtic Spirit, 2nd Tai Mo Shan. IRC 2-handed: 1st Jackdaw, 2nd Daring. Handicap 2-handed 1st Tai Mo Shan
Sponsored by A2 Rigging
Organised by Helford River sailing Club
The start is at 1030 in the mouth of the Helford River and the finish is off the end of the pier in Penzance harbour (the pier the Scillonian moors along side).
There are visitors moorings available in the Helford River (you will be changed the normal visitors rate) and berthing is available in Penzance Dock on Saturday night. The Penzance Dock is open 2 hours before and one hour after high water (1804 - 2104 BST).
Food is available on Friday night at the Helford River Sailing Club (booking is advisable) and food will also be available at Penzance Sailing Club on Saturday night (no booking required).
More information can be found in the Sailing Instructions.
A blustery forecast of 18-25kts from the SE, with a touch of rain, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Carte Blanches' crew for the 135 mile Trinity race from Falmouth around Eddystone and Wolf rocks. Unfortunately, of a potential fleet of eight, just two arrived at the start line just outside the harbour where the stalwart race committee were having a tough job anchoring.
At 11am Inn Spirit paced nicely off the start line followed by a slightly less prepared Carte Blanche. The boats crossed to the tide in the channel to the East of Black Rock, tacked past St Anthony and turned East to Hands Deep, our first mark. With the wind around 60-70 degrees off the starboard bow and a bit of chop both boats started off at a good 6.5kts with the sun shining and spray all over the deck. Onboard Carte Blanche a lunchtime Tribute and a pasty lifted morale as did the realisation that our jackets, kindly provided by St Austell brewery, were highly waterproof - which makes a change from most of our old gear and was to prove invaluable over the next 22 hours as things got tougher!
At Hands Deep we turned upwind into a larger swell that had appeared, slightly overpressed by the large Genoa which, owing to a halyard failure, we didn't want to take down. Things got much wetter, seasickness claimed its first victim and progress slowed to just over 4kts, but thankfully Carte doesn't slam badly and we got to Eddystone in an hour. The crew had a fine view of the lighthouse with the sun behind as we whizzed by and set a Westerly course to the Lizard.
Spinnaker was considered, briefly, and rejected - a stiff breeze, heavy swell and a ind angle of 100-110 would have made for tough work and questionable gains. With supper out of the way we approached the race and decided to head straight through - wind with tide and towards the earlier part of the stream we hoped it wouldn't be too bad - and it wasn't! Onwards to Wolf at a cracking pace with the wind building behind the beam and the swell rising, we put the second reef in for the return journey to Lizard.
Around 2am we made the rounding, Wolf looked spectacular, lit up against the dark sky seething in white water, but we had little time to enjoy the view. The light and conditions made it rather difficult to judge the distance to the reef and there was a gybe to control, all successfully managed.
The Easterly leg back was harder work; against the wind, against the tide, against great sheets of spray that covered our dedicated night watch. A rigorous pumping regime, that had been started an hour out, had to intensify as the water worked its way through all sorts of points we hadn't envisaged. This time the race around Lizard was in full fling and we had a rollercoaster ride before we could bear away round the point. Fortunately this roused most of the crew and once past the Manacles we hoisted the heavy spinnaker and raced towards the finish, trying to beat the approaching rain! We had a heavy run in and it seemed the right call not to hoist after Eddystone.
At 8.41am we ran across the RCYC line to be warmly welcomed by the horn and lights of the race officers' car! A wet, tiring but invigorating Trinity Race and a great first qualifier for the Fastnet; many thanks to the RCYC and COGS for all their organisation, consideration and keeping everything going for a reduced fleet.
Report by Carte Blanche skipper George Tetley