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