The 2nd Channel Weekend of Offshore races over the weekend 18th to 21st August mustered 5 starters from an entry list of 11. The Force 8, lower end of a gale, forecast for the Friday night race from Cowes to Fecamp put many off, along with fatigue from the full on RORC Fastnet Race which finished only a week earlier. With the routing showing arrival at low tide off Fecamp with a strong swell kicked up by the NW winds, the Race 5 start was postponed to Saturday morning and the course changed to take the fleet straight to Le Havre.
A running CSB start from Osborne towards the Eastern Solent saw Dehlerious (Donald Macdonald) take an early lead with the Sun Fast 3200's of Roxanne (Simon Mitchell) and Fastrak (Nigel Colley) in hot pursuit. Roxanne chose to hoist her A2 whilst Fastrak went for her S4 which soon took her to the front of the fleet. Full Circle (Matt Smith's new Sun Fast 3200 R2) took a more cautious approach, being Matt's first ever solo race and in a new boat he has only sailed twice before!
After rounding the forts and heading towards Bembridge, Fastrak peeled to her Code 0. Initially Roxanne, with her A-sail, started to catch up, but eventually the wind headed a little and Fastrak stretched her lead. Full Circle flew her Code 0 for a while, another first for Matt Smith! The procession followed for a fast trip across the Channel, finishing under main and jib and just in time for dinner, with Fastrak taking the homours followed by Roxanne, Full Circle, Dehlerious and Mustigo (Stephen Scholefields J-111).
In Le Havre the fleet was joined by our favourite SORC groupie, Marie-Claire, who delivered us fresh croissants and joined us for a well earnmed dinner. Marie-Claire also treated us to aperitifs at her very smart appartment in Le Havre the following evening, for which we are all grateful.
Being in Le Havre, rather than Fecamp, and running a day late and with hardly any wind, the Sunday day race was cancelled, with the fleet choosing instead to chill out and await a convivial dinner.
A complicated forecast followed for the return race to teh SOlent which started early on Monday morning. Dehlerious again started us under CSB procedures. Mustigo took a more westerly course, with the three Sun Fast 3200's chasing eachother closely playing act and mouse on a more direct trajectory. Starting under main and jib, the wind direction was variable, allowing some Code 0 action. About 10 miles out from Bembridge the wind started to die and eventually evaporated, with forecast of any return until the following morning. Mustigo, however, managed to just hang on to the dying breeze to make it round Bembridge and up to the finish for line and overall honours, being the only finisher. All the others retired.
Whilst the numbers were down, and the forecast was not brilliant, a great time was had by the 5 boats and Matt Smith on Full Circle was very pleased to earn his solo wings. We look forward to seeing more of Matt in future races.