Sailing: De Guingand Bowl


De Guingand Bowl: Cowes - St. Vaast

De Guingand Bowl route (Cowes - St. Vaast) What can I say? A bit of a Curate's Egg of a race. In light Northerly airs (F3-4) we slipped moorings from Cowes Yacht Haven at 18:40 for a start at 19:30 on Friday 18th May. With well over 100 yachts jostling for position on the line, we were forced over by about 1/2 length by a large Swan, and had to do a 360 to restart, losing about 2 minutes in the process. The race was run over course B, which meant going West past the Needles, then South towards Cherbourg, then down the East side of the Cherbourg peninsular, to the line outside St. Vaast. After the bad start, we crawled up the fleet on the first leg, gradually passing all and sundry, and by the time we turned South with the big kite up and with night falling, we were in the lead. A cold, clear, night of hard work followed, continually trimming the kite (every 20 seconds or so) and main, but we never got much over 8 knots (very occasionally, 9) for the whole night. At daybreak, outside Cherbourg, we were well away, but our wind died, and we were gradually caught up by the rest of the fleet. Working down towards St. Vaast, now in second and with the remaining wind failing, we saw the leader becalmed only about 1 mile from the finish. Seeing their problems, and now with a strong (3 knot) counter tide, we took an inshore route, following the air on the water. Jybing continuously, being VERY gentle with the boat, and working incredibly hard, we crept towards the line and were the first to round the buoy marking the entrance to the harbour. Still with 600mtrs to go, we edged for the finish only to see the chasing pack get more wind than us, and start closing rapidly. By dint of hard work and good calls from the skipper, we crossed the line about 4 seconds in front of our nearest challenger. Line honours may mean little in the overall, ratings-related, scheme of things (Incisor has a significant handicap), but first over after such a hard-fought night is a good feeling.

None of the bigger yachts could get into St. Vaast (we draw 2.5mtrs) so we tidied up and headed up to Cherbourg for a bevvy or two. A further honour, we also were first into the bar, and for a lot of the crew working very hard now, first to get completely out of their heads! A nice meal was had by all, before we set off back at 20:30, expecting to motor-sail most of the way (light Northerly winds still). However, we got some decent sailing in overnight, and met the Isle of Wight at dawn at St. Catherine's Point. Taking the Eastern entrance to the Solent, we tied up at about 10:00 on Sunday.

All in all, a very good weekend's sailing...


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