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Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club Commodore's Cup & Cook Salver Round the Island Race

by Bill Harris 9 Apr 07:10 PDT 2 April 2021
Mystique leads Morrina IV to the finsh line off the Diamond buoy during the RCIYC Commodore's Cup race © Bernard O'Reagain

From time immemorial, the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club's cruiser racing season has opened on Good Friday 2nd April with the Commodore's Cup & Cook Salver race to St Malo. Consequent upon the absolute lockdown, last year, there was no race. This year, restrictions were eased to the extent that the race could happen but only within local waters.

With these major club trophies at stake it was decided that, given the necessity for an alternative to St Malo and with Guernsey closed to races, the tide was good for an anticlockwise circumnavigation of the Island, a rounding of approximately forty-five miles, mainly with favourable tide.

Strong northeasterly winds were a constant feature of Easter week with predictions for the Friday being much as had been experienced up to then. Nine boats of the fourteen that had entered came to the line off the Vrachière buoy to the east of St Aubin's Bay for the 0845 start. With one boat having experienced an early technical issue it was an eight-strong well-reefed fleet that took off, downwind, for the Diamond Rock buoy, the first mark of the course.

Bob Milner's Grand Soleil 46.3, Grace, was first to the mark, followed by Alan Stevens' First 44.7, Zanzibar, and David Myatt's 8-metre, Erica, for the turn to port and the close hauled reach to the Violet Channel buoy some eight miles distant. Conditions were not, unexpectedly, lively with the flood tide contributing significantly to a wet and bumpy ride. This leg saw four boats retire leaving David Carter's Sunfast 3200, Lady Penelope, having sailed a lot higher than those in pursuit, to be first at the Violet for the tack up the east coast, followed by Deborah Hutchings and Chris Fritot's Dehler 38, Mystique, Peter Funk's Bavaria 35, Morrina IV and Bernard Azuelos' First 32, Hamsa, bringing up the rear.

Conditions as boats sailed northwards past Gorey, St Catherine's and Rozel were no more forgiving than those previously experienced and it was with some relief that boats eased sheets for the run along the north coast with Lady Penelope continuing to consolidate her lead. However, with the wind astern and a following sea comfort was not on the cards as boats headed westwards towards Grosnez. Whilst there was some thought given to flying a spinnaker it was but fleeting!

Once past Grosnez, boats gybed on to port for a much quieter reach southwards in the lee of the land, through St Ouen's Bay. With Lady Penelope well ahead, there was little distance between Mystique and Morrina IV as they rounded Corbière. Although there was little change in the wind as boats entered the home straight, conditions were significantly improved as boats beat, against the fast ebbing tide, in the shelter of the cliffs.

Lady Penelope went on to finish off the Diamond buoy in a near record time for a cruiser/racer, five hours and five minutes. This was a very impressive performance, indeed. Meanwhile Mystique and Morrina IV, albeit in separate classes, duelled all the way into the Bay with Mystique pipping Morrina IV to the line by seven minutes. Hamsa, bringing up the rear, had the worst of the foul tide; although finishing considerably later, she had had sailed a superb race given the challenging conditions that the fleet had faced.

The place prize-giving was held in the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club on Wednesday in the presence of Commodore James Wilding and Rear Commodore Jeremy Swetenham The next event in the Club's cruiser programme is first of seven races in the Liberation Brewing Co Beer Race Series, schedule for 28th April. The Notice of Race is available on www.rciyc.je/sailing.

Overall Results: (elapsed/corrected)

Class 1 (IRC)
1 Lady Penelope - David Carter (5.05.58/5.01.59)
2 Morrina IV - Peter Funk (5.32.25/5.34.45)

Class 3 (NHC)
1 Mystique - Deborah Hutchings & Chris Fritot (5.29.52/5.22.17)
2 Hamsa - Bernard Azuelos (6.52.21/6.13.11)

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