A class meets J Class

Due to un-obliging tides, 2015’s Round the Island Race was held on a Thursday evening rather than at the weekend; the timing of the requisite large spring tide did not serve. However the race was held in perfect conditions allowing the unusual course to be set navigating the embankment channel, making the island a mark of the course. Teal No.22, put in its usual top performance and was first over the line, Whimbrel 2nd and Shearwater third.

The previous fortnight’s Pimms outing at Gin Bottle Hole proved ever popular with a mixed fleet of dinghies heading up river. A fresh southerly helped in making a quick passage, the tide was just sufficient in height, plus there was the bonus of sunshine. Although this is not a race, it may as well have been, the speed at which some boats were heading for the destination was almost unseemly. Various picnics were offloaded onto the bank and of course copious amounts of Pimms. The landing makes for a pleasant spot to while away a picnic, but caution is required in not over staying on an ebbing tide. The return voyage resulted in navigating a narrower and shallower channel than normal. There were more than a few groundings on the mudflats as the fleet tacked down the river – although it did highlight the advantages of centreboards over daggerboards in clearing the shallows….

During the last week of June the RCYC at Falmouth hosted a J Class regatta, these huge magnificent classic yachts (approx 130 feet LOA, with a displacement of approx 140 tons) almost died out from their hey-day in the 1930s. Slowly they have returned with restorations and replicas of the original designs; there are now eight on the water (more than the original fleet).

So not wishing to miss an opportunity to watch these hugely powerful yachts race in close quarters, AOD No.1 headed west down the A30. Launching at Mylor Yacht Harbour provides easy access to Carrick Roads and Falmouth Bay where the J class were racing. Although only three were racing at Falmouth – Velsheda, Ranger & Lionheart, they still make an impressive sight and sound, especially when easing their highly loaded jib sheets, this could be heard clearly right across the bay.

Whimbrel headed out from Mylor Creek early on Thursday morning into a light southerly breeze, the flooding tide made for a challenge, looking for favourable back eddies under the point at St. Mawes Castle – every little helps when you’re sailing a 12 foot dinghy!! Having arrived on the course about a mile south of St.Anthony’s Head the spectator fleet soon swelled as the J’s started their pre-race manoeuvres.  The immense power of these yachts soon becomes apparent, with a wind speed of just eight to nine knots they were easily achieving 10knots – impressive; all the more evident as they circled in the dial up for the start. Fortunately an Irishman gave an informative running commentary on Channel 68, since there was no way that an AOD was going to keep up with the fleet of RIBS which followed them up the first beat, this AOD had to be content with milling around the leeward mark and the finish line to watch their progress.

Each race was about an hour and a half, Lionheart won the first race and Velsheda the second, a beautiful sight with their spinnakers set, running into the finish. The day was rounded off by a pleasant sail back into Mylor, diverting for an ice cream stop at St. Mawes – always worth while. Of course the ebb tide was setting out but with a following wind it was hardly noticeable – a good day out.

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