RORC Cowes-Cherbourg 2016. An unusual problem with an unusual outcome

September 4, 2016

Due to two crew cancellations, we started with a crew of six. Leen, Jan and Pieter van Balkom, Florent, myself and Lennard Pigeaud, the new kid on the block. Only if behaving well of course.

Start to the East 15 knots from SE, so spinakering looking like an option. We only found time to hoist the sails, but not for any drills, gybes or watever. So we made a cautious start, with 30 seconds to go at the gun.

We could set the spinaker prior to the gun. We were in the first pack of the Classes 3&4. In spite of the fact that Florent tried to give instructions to Leen, rather than listening to him, Leen managed to pass Aventurera on her windward side.

The evening prior to our start, I prepared the course in Expedition, downloaded the PredictWind grib files and ran an Optimum. To my surprise we should virtually sail the course on the map. The next day based upon new weather grib files, I did the same and got the same result. My belief in Expedition has so much grown this year, that I did not awake and we just sailed the Optimum course. As a consequence we became the most outside boat of the entire fleet.

When Florent hinted that the tide may not be activated I told him he should have more confidence in the magic of Expedition so we kept on ignoring that the entire fleet, except perhaps 2 or 3 other boats, steered another more logical course.

Then we came much too close to an anchored Grimaldi ship and we needed urgently to tack. During the tack we decided to start the engine to be safe. On hind sight this was superfluous but the damage was done, though the engine did run for only 10 seconds. I wrote this in the Crew Declaration Form and took two photograps of the pc screen and wrote down the coordinates at the moment of the incident. As a result of this action we sailed 2 cables (a cable is 10% of one Nautical Mile or 185 meters) in the wrong direction so we must have lost here half a mile.

I could see the fleet going faster. Florent tried to reassure us by saying that we possibly had a brilliant course and may beat the entire fleet. So I quoted an English expression, used often in Cowes Weeks, saying ‘if you sail an extreme course, you sometimes win, but usually not’.

It kept bothering me, of course, so at a certain moment I discovered more or less by chance in the settings of Expedition that the function ‘Use tidal streams’ was de-activated. I did not even know there was such a function in Expedition.

So we changed course. Much too late and the damage was irrepairable. ‘Never, ever, give up’ (see our last blog of Cowes Week 2016)’ so we continued the race as if this mistake were not made. My expectation was that we may become 18 (last) in our Class.

At that moment Foggy Dew was already 6 Nm ahead of us. The Lord must have given us a hand. The wind changed and died completed near to the entrance of Cherbourg harbour whilst our distance to Foggy Dew decreased to only 2 miles (our new laylines corrected for the heel angle on our new B&G compass worked well, Boj and Geoffrey Wroath. We needed to make one small tack to pass le Fort de l’Ouest and we entered the port just after Jolene II and Longue Pierre. On AIS I could see that these two boats lost completely the wind and had a speed of only 1 knot.

Leen directed Florent on the wheel, to steer away from the wall protecting the harbour of Cherbourg and we managed virtually to steer around these two boats with 6 knots speed. We even could hoist the spinaker to cover the last two cables. At the very last moment Jolene II got some wind and finished just ahead of us. Longue Pierre was overtaken by us, at least on the water. Bad news for Bella van Zuylen (?).

Our reward was a 6th place. Much better than expected when we were half way in the race, but worse than our usuallly good results in this race.

Columbus Circle, an Archambault 31, won our Class. Foggy Dew became 2nd and we will see Noël Race again in Malta to compete in IRC Class 6, starting 22nd of October, of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Whilst writing this blog we are half way between Cherbourg and Cowes with guess who on the wheel.



Post by Harry Heijst | September 4, 2016 |

1 Comment

  1. I could not upload the image but had guessed it was my homonym. So proud of her!! You look so concentrated 🙂
    Baisers de Sophie de Paris

    by Saby | 04 Sep 2016 | 21:23