Offshore Regatta 2015

Posted: Thursday, 2nd July 2015

The EAORA Offshore Regatta sponsored by Haven Knox-Johnston took place over four days from 25th to 28th June with three races from Harwich to Ostend to Ramsgate and back to Harwich, over 200 miles.

Thursday’s early start for the Graham Wallis Trophy from Harwich to Ostend over a 75 mile course started from the Harwich breakwater in a light westerly with shy spinnakers set. Ape-X, Eclipse and Cosmic Dancer led the fleet in Class 3 and 10 minutes later Amazon, L’Autre Femme and Berserker led in Class 2 with Andrasta leading class 1 another 10 minutes behind. Some boats struggled to get out of the clutches of Harwich harbour and the J/105 L’Autre Femme was becalmed for hours in the lee of the Naze. The wind faded as the fleet approached the Medusa buoy off the Naze with kedges being used until the new south-westerly slowly came in. The fleet’s progress was still very slow on the leg to the NE Gunfleet and Longsand Head, on a tight reach with Andrasta and Amazon eventually setting code zeros as the wind became more stable and with speeds increasing all the way to Twin, just over the shipping lanes in the late afternoon. From the Twin buoy the wind slowly backed to the south east, which was not the forecast direction, with a painfully slow 8 knot beat in flat seas nearly all the way to the finish. Andrasta and Assarain IV led the fleet with Cosmic Dancer III next and Berserker and Apex not far behind and the rest of the fleet strung out across the North Sea, with the number of retirements increasing as the day went on. With the leading class 1 boats Andrasta and Assarain finishing just after midnight the wind veered to the south enabling those further back to close on the leaders and set assys for the last six miles to the finish. The last boat arriving at 04.30

Graham Wallis Trophy overall

1st Cosmic Dancer III – Baltic 37 – Russell Walker

2nd Eclipse – Contessa 33 – Des Cowan

3rd Apex – X-332 – Robert Leggett

Friday was a lay-day in Ostend to catch up after the late finish and a few drinks in the Cosy Corner with the prizegiving held in the Royal North Sea Yacht Club in the early evening. On Saturday the Cannonball race from Ostend to Ramsgate over 65 miles was the second race in the Offshore Regatta and with a weather forecast of westerly 12 to 14 knots at the start and little or no wind from lunchtime onwards, when the fleet would be crossing the busy shipping lanes near the Dover Straits, the decision was made to shorten the race at the Ruytingen NW Buoy after 40 miles. Brian Bolton’s ‘Blue Horizon’ was the committee boat for the start just outside the entrance to Ostend and with 14 knots from the WNW, a lumpy sea and four hours of foul tide it was always going to be a long beat along the Belgian and French coastline. At the start it was possible to just lay the rhumb-line course on starboard but as the fleet progressed to the west the wind slowly backed to the west and then the south-west making it a very tactical beat to windward with the leaders having a close tussle all the way to the finish. Assarain IV was the first yacht to finish after 6 hours 26 minutes and the last yacht was the Trapper 240 Bushwakka after 9 hours and 12 minutes. All yachts then motor sailed to Ramsgate arriving in the early evening with a friendly reception and prize-giving in the Royal Temple Yacht Club at 23.00.

Cannon Ball Race overall

1st Amazon – Sun Fast 3200 – Tony & Chuffy Merewether

2nd Assarain IV – J/133 – Angus Bates

3rd Cosmic Dancer III – Baltic 37 – Russell Walker

Sunday morning looked bright and breezy from the SSW for the Walker Challenge from Ramsgate to Harwich over a 45 mile course. Perry Wilson’s ‘Kismet’ was the start boat just south of the harbour entrance and after a short reach to the eastern end of the approach channel, spinnakers were set for what looked to be a quick race with the tide through Fisherman’s Gat and up the Black Deep to Harwich. Henry Bateman’s new Iceni 39 Andrasta was soon at the front of the fleet and stretching her legs up the Black Deep and away, with the pack of Brave, Cosmic Dancer, Apex, Amazon and Jabberwock vying for position on the leg to the NE Gunfleet as the wind started to drop with the start of the rain. It was here that Amazon stretched away with her code zero to Medusa and the boats stretched apart with an increasingly lighter breeze and shy reaching conditions. As the first boats finished and the rain stopped so did the wind and the boats at the back were now four hours behind the first boat to finish Andrasta with the last boat Dabtoe finishing at 18.15. After a quick motor up the river to the Haven Ports Yacht Club a prize-giving was held on the top deck at 18.00

Walker Challenge overall

1st Andrasta – Iceni 39 – Henry Bateson

2nd Eclipse – Contessa 33 – Des Cowan

3rd Amazon – Sun Fast 3200 – Tony & Chuffy Merewether

After three days of great racing I would like to give a big thank you to our sponsors Haven Knox-Johnston, the crew of Offshore One Brian and Wendy Bolton and John and Ann Cook, the crew of Offshore Two Perry Wilson, Danny Donoghue and Andy and to all the competitors for making it such an enjoyable event.

EAORA Offshore Regatta overall (3 races no discard)

1st Amazon – Sun Fast 3200 – Tony & Chuffy Merewether

2nd Cosmic Dancer III – Baltic 37 – Russell Walker

3rd Eclipse – Contessa 33 – Des Cowan

 Two-handed

1st Salteezer – Dehler 32 – Duncan Ellis

 

For full results see: http://www.eaora.org.uk/results/eaora-offshore-regatta-2

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