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Rally Portugal - sailing and sightseeing
Sun, 17 Jun 2007
16th June: Sailing, Sardines and Sailors In University!
Over the past few days the Rally Portugal crews have been busy sailing and seeing the sights along the coast of Portugal. On Thursday Morning (14 June) all of the participants were up early to begin their 75 mile sail from Povoa de Varzim to Figuera da Foz. Over the past few days the Rally Portugal crews have been busy sailing and seeing the sights along the coast of Portugal. Unfortunately the wind was forecast to be light all the way to Figuera da Foz, Rally control therefore decided that an official start and racing leg was not appropriate, as it would just turn into a motoring race. This did mean that the boats were allowed to leave at any time they wanted, so some of the smaller yachts decided to leave earlier to ensure that they had arrived in the next port in time for the festivities. As the forecast promised the wind was light and from the south, just what the sailors in the fleet didn’t want. The banter on the radio could be heard all the way down the coast as the fleet get to know each other just that little bit better with every stopover. Just before the finish Malcolm on Bon Jovi could be heard radioing the rest of the fleet to warn them that off the final headland there was a mass of fishing pots and nets threatening to tangle any boat that would get in their way. Luckily the message was passed in time for all the fleet to miss the impending danger.
The next obstacle to overcome is the mouth of the river Mondego, as the river meets the seas it can be very choppy, as the fast running current meets the more stationary sea. Most of the yachts had a rough ride through the mouth of the river but all was navigated successfully. The first boat to arrive was Bon Jovi however this was contested by Stephen May the skipper of Cheroon who suggested that as Bon Jovi had gone to the fuel dock and Cheroon had been the first boat in her berth they were in fact the first there. The next yacht to arrive was that of Baccus who were closely followed by Tucanon, and Cat-Man-Do. All the skippers said that they had had a great days sailing and that motors had been used but not to the extent feared.
The first social event in Figuera da Foz kicked off at 2000hrs, with local sardines being cooked on the BBQ and local wine being poured. As more and more of the fleet arrived the party started to get busier and busier. The party was accompanied by the local folk band who made it a truly traditional Portuguese evening. Unfortunately not all the boats arrived in time for the party with Blue Haven and Dawn Strider just missing out on the Sardines. They will not be a problem, as they will be sick of the sight of the local fish by the time they get to Lagos in 10 days time.
A new day and another weather system hits the rally Portugal fleet. This time instead of wind it brought rain, perfect for a tour of the local town of Coimbra. The town has the most famous university in all of Portugal and as the old capital of Portugal has some very pretty side streets and local shops. To find out more about Coimbra Click here. The first stop on the tour of the city was the University and the University library. Having had to book the tour a year in advance seeing the library is very special and the old building is both amazing and beautiful at the same time. The rain was then braved to see the University prison, where luckily all of the participants were released from before visiting the rest of the campus. Once the tour was over the guide found a fantastic restaurant that wined and dined all until it was time to get back on the coach for a siesta whilst travelling to Montemor castle.
The castle is set high on a hill in the middle of a plain and has some stunning views of the surrounding countryside. After a short time at the castle it was time to return to the marina. Once again the luck was not on the crew’s side with the weather as the wind and the rain were now pounding the town. For more pictures of the trip to Coimbra click on the Gallery.
Tomorrow is a free day for all involved in the rally with only a visit to the Casio in Figuera da Foz planned for the early evening show. Monday will then bring the next move for the fleet with a sail to the fishing port of Peniche.
13th June 2007: This Weather Is Not What The Brochure Promised.
After a day of frustrating sailing come motoring yesterday, the first arrivals start to come round the breakwater in Povoa. At 1730, Cheroon was the first boat to arrive with the rest of the fleet following on behind. The final boat to finish was Dawn Strider that arrived at the marina at 2330 local time. With all the yachts on the same pontoon the festival atmosphere built throughout the afternoon and evening and as each boat arrived it became a race to see who could get their boat dressed overall the fastest. The story that come out of most of the crews was they had managed only an hour of sailing all day but had had to use their motors for the rest of the time.
Today the participants were treated to a tour of Povoa and the surrounding countryside. The first stop on the tour was a beautifully kept garden with amazing views of the town and marina. Unfortunately the weather has been atrocious today with wind and rain making it not a typical Portugal day. Luckily to majority of the tour was on a bus with a few stops to get off and admire the scenery.
This evening the participants will be treated to a prize giving at the Clube Naval Povoense. There will be prizes and also a meal to ensure that the Rally Portugal 2007 crews really do get to know each other if they haven’t already. There will be some fun prizes as well as more serious ones for the fun racing between the yachts on the leg from Bayona to Povoa.
Unfortunately today the rally is saying goodbye to Windntide who are pressing on down the coast as they have time restraints.
Tomorrow will be another day sent in Povoa and the majority of the crews will be taking the short trip to the town of Porto where they will be taken round the famous Taylor’s wine lodge and I’m sure sample a port or two. The rest of the day will be free for the crews to explore the town before hopping on the coach back to Povoa to go to the famous casino for dinner and cabaret.
12th June: Just Enough Wind To Cross The Line.
Bayona awoke this morning to wall to wall beautiful skies, but unfortunately no wind to be heard of great if you are a tourist but not so good if you are sailing down the coast of Spain and Portugal. As the rally check out opened a flurry of skippers arrived at the rally office to ensure that all the paperwork was in order before they departed for Povaoa de Varzim. By now the rally officials are getting to know who is good at paperwork and who is slightly more reluctant. It seemed that there were not that many sore heads on the docks this morning despite it being the birthday of Frank the skipper of Goldrush, the night before.
As the yachts made their way out to the start there was still not a breath, but the sight of the wooded hillsides, deep Ria and the odd castle dotted around was breathtaking. 10 minutes before the scheduled start a postponement was raised on the committee boat as it was felt by the race committee that the wind would fill in, in the next 15 mins. The postponement also helped those slightly late to leave, as the committee boat had had to be moored further out in the bay to try to find some wind.
As the postponement came down and the 10 minute gun went there was still some reluctance from the fleet to hoist sails. The crew of Ebenezer took this chance to deploy some water bombs onto their unsuspecting fellow crews. You may think it is a slightly strange sight – a respected skipper wearing a top hat lobbing water balloons at other well respected skippers – but anything can happen on Rally Portugal!