RORC Channel Race 2014 – “Bad call mate”

Conrad Manning Racing_ChannelRace14
Beautiful photo of the morning sunrise with a little breath of wind filling our sails….

I wanted to start this by confirming that I am taking the mick out of the Fosters add due to the unfortunate choice of starting position that after three hours of spinning around in circles found us literally at the back of the fleet. It is there that I shall pick up my narrative of the really up and down race that we had trying to get back into the mix…

Initially at the start we chose the port end due to (what we thought) was a tidal and wind direction advantage, added to the shorter distance that we would have had to travel if the wind kept where it was. What transpired was a complete crap out of wind (technical term!) just off Yarmouth where we actually completed a full 360 degree spin infront of a 40.7 charter (assuming it was a charter, I could see Interceptor’s branded main clearly)… Not something a fine tuned race boat would want to do :S This pirouette meant that everyone left us for dead, even the other boat that we were with.

This left alot of work to be done to reattach ourselves with the rest of the fleet who by now were at least 2 miles away! Taking the channel out past the Needles, the one we navigated in the dark on the way back from the St Malo, we started eating up the miles between us and the boats ahead.

By the time we reached mark 1 the DZB buoy off Anvil Point, we had established ourselves back in the chasing pack and after a spotless gybe set, we headed inshore to the point. Now, without knowing it, that was a fantastic choice as we were catapulted towards the leading boats, quickly gaining ground on Artemis 43. We were even treated to a Red Arrows esq. air-show in Swanage!

Artemis 43’s (and according to the AIS, Concise) lead over us was being munched into around mark 2, another one of RORC’s fantastic imaginary marks… and on towards Poole where again, we were aiming for buoy no. 1. The leg towards Poole, turned out to be quite a tactical procedure with the wind shifting towards the north as our newly working Navtex had predicted. Unfortunately, nearly at the Needles, whilst I was on the helm, a starboard boat came up after choosing the wrong line and meant that all the ground gained on the boats ahead had to be lost in a drastic avoidance manoeuvre.

Once around Poole we headed off around the Island… Now, I’m sure people have read the blog of the official Round the Island blog (nudge_1 nudge_2) which was an absolute drift-a-thon, we had a similar experience at around dawn coming around St Cat’s with just enough air to fill the kite….

Then it built to 15+kts from 160 to 100 degrees whilst we still had the A4 up :S Poor Ian probably got thrown across the pipecot, hopefully not onto the floor! We then abruptly dropped it and continued the chase on 43, Night and Day, and Foggy. Amazingly, after rounding outer Nab (or something like that) and New Grounds cardinal, we had not only overtaken the Fastnet winners (Night and Day) but also the fully crewed JPK10.10 Foggy!

Homeward bound after New Grounds, N&D had caught back up so we had a right old ding dong with them right up to the line where we managed to scrape a few boat lengths with Hamo Thornycroft documenting the whole thing (link soon). With all that done and dusted, Ian does look rather happy after the night of very little sleep!

Big smiles from the man after finishing the Channel Race '14, you can just make out Night and Day behind.
Big smiles from the man after finishing the Channel Race ’14, you can just make out Night and Day behind.

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