Sailing: Morgan Cup


Morgan Cup: Cowes - Dieppe

Morgan Cup route (Cowes - Dieppe) What is it about race days this year? The Met Office forecast was for Northerly F2-3 with rain... In brilliant sunshine we left Cowes for an Easterly start at 19:00 off the RYS. A good turnout, this time including the Farr 52 Bear of Britain (BoB)- a lovely looking boat if ever there was one. This time there were no problems, and we crossed the line on the gun and started for the Forts on a gentle reach. With not much wind and a lot of holes, even before we reached the Nab Tower the fleet had split into two groups - our one decided to go for the rhumb line, the others gybed to the West to look for wind. With a tightly grouped knot of boats, trying to find clean air was not easy and we had one or two "interesting" verbal exchanges with other skippers over various race rules, including number 75 (look it up yourself!). BoB could not get away, and seemed to find all the wind holes, but once we had passed the Nab she slowly edged on ahead as darkness fell.

The night was quiet, with the wind slowly going to the North West, we had a kite up and trimmed continuously. By now we were either in the lead of our group, or very close to the front. We still had BoB in sight and at the first radio checkpoint they were only about 1nm ahead. However, those that had gone West had done well, and several of those were also now in front of us. As dawn broke and we approached the next waypoint, the A5 buoy, to our pleasant surprise we saw BoB and the other leaders in a huge wind hole that stretched for several miles East to West. Extraordinary - in 10 metres the wind went from F3 to nothing, and there was no way round it. BoB was incredibly frustrated - they had only entered this race to get line honours, they had been well in the lead, and now tout le monde et son chien had caught them up (but at least were in the same hole!). What was really annoying was that many of the yachts that were doing this just for the hell of it had obviously taken on huge amounts of food, and sitting there in the early dawn, we were surrounded by the smells of fresh coffee and frying bacon etc. What was doubly frustrating was that RORC were laying on a free continental breakfast in Dieppe from 05:00 to 10:00, and at this rate, we were all going to miss that by many hours.

Eventually, BoB gave up, turned on their engine, and to the rather surreal sound of "Scotland the Brave" played (rather well) by one of their crew on Bag Pipes, they headed back to England... Just as well really, as about 10 minutes later we managed to edge out of the hole (as did a lot of other people) and rounded the fateful A5 buoy... or did we? In a typical French trick, there are actually two A5 buoys, but we rounded the most Westerly for safety - many yachts only made the Easterly marker. At this point we were about 15th in class, and as the wind picked up from the East and with the yachts all beating, we worked our way up the fleet.

Finally, with about 10nm to go, there are just 3 or 4 of us in contention. At 5nm, we were caught by Team Tonic, a Beneteau 47.7 and it looked like we had lost our chance. With the finish line in sight only a few miles away, we had been overhauled, but weren't going to give up easily. There was no way we were going to be allowed upwind of them, so we sagged away South by about 100m and peeled to a Code 0. This gave us a slight edge, and as we now had clean air we slowed crept away from them. With about 10 boat lengths lead we peeled again to a kite, and crossed the line about 1 minute in front.

It seemed too far to have come not to stop for a beer (or two...), so we headed in to Dieppe and tied up at about 16:30. A light bevvy and a quick meal later, we headed back to Cowes leaving at about 21:00. A good clear night's sailing we met the UK at the Greenwich Light Vessel Automatic. The only rain we had was for about 10 minutes as the front moved through, and we headed West down the English coast. Now with a good F5 blowing, we had a terrific sail up the Solent with a private duel with Marionette, before tying up back at Cowes at about 16:30. A long trip for a weeked, but well worth it and with yet another excellent result!


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