JOG Week

Exposure Lights St Vaast Race Reports 2018

02 April 2018

Photos and Video by kind permission from Jeremy Waitt

Photos and Video by kind permission from AK Gantes

Yachts & Yachting Report

St. Vaast Race Report – ARIANE, Class 6

Cherbourg on a Sunday in May is a sleepy place first thing in the morning, but this has charms, particularly when the sun is warm and the sky a long-missed clear blue. I know that the race was to St. Vaast, but unfortunately we didn’t make it there, so this ultimately is a report about a visit to the Cotentin peninsula’s most important port, rather than the race’s official destination.

Our failure to make it may have stemmed from the decision to ship five crew rather than our usual three, the extra beer and food needed to cater for the additional mouths putting Ariane well down on her marks. As things worked out, those extra faces became welcome as the race wore tediously on, as the rolling watches meant one had someone new to talk to each time. But their effect on Ariane’s performance was apparent from the beginning as despite a good start, by the forts we had lost touch with the rest of Class 6. Once past Bembridge Ledge night fell and so did the breeze, often as a result of mighty Class 3’s deciding to pass our diminutive rig to windward, killing our air and dropping us further back. If your ears burned in those hours towards midnight, you know who to blame!

Swapping between spinnaker and our new Code 0 helped us make progress in the very fickle and unreliable wind, but it still took us nearly 24 hours before we saw the Phare de Gatteville. And there we stayed, trapped by the turning tide, to the extent that a 5 degree course change led to an 85 degree track change, in either direction. Knowing we had missed the lock, and that what little wind there was had dropped to less than 3 knots, we concluded that staying out for at least another seven hours was just too close to purgatory, so an executive decision was taken to retire and hot-foot it for the flesh-pots of Cherbourg. And as the opening line may have indicated, even the flesh-pots were closed (except one hoarse sounding night-club, which was still pounding away at 8.30 in the morning).

Congratulations to Sheevra on winning Class 6; our skipper learned his craft upon her when just a youngster (a few eons ago as his Dad bought her from new and she won everything then aswell) so her success has taken some of the sting out of our failure to finish.

Just So Race report for the Exposure Lights Cowes to St Vaast race.

We weren’t optimistic About reaching St Vaast. Despite checking the weather forecast repeatedly throughout the week, there didn’t seem to be any increase in the wind forecast! So we departed on Friday evening with masses of fuel and food and lots of layers of clothing packed. We thought that if we did finish, it would be after the lock gates had closed and that we’d turn around and motor home.

We made a reasonable start, but had a big wrap in the kite, so our eventual hoist was late. We ended up in the middle of the pack. At first the breeze was ok, but then it dropped and dropped and despite Will getting us crossing from Island side to mainland side ( “They look to have more breeze over there....”) progress was slow. A 3 hour drift to the forts on the favourable tide confirmed our pessimism. But then we had a bit of luck as we carried on Eastwards and the veering wind lifted us up to Bembridge. The wind dropped wind dropped as we got to Bembridge and we joined the fleet in “the hole” . So we went to the Code 0 as this holds its shape in very little wind better than the kite. By early morning the wind had continued to build and veer and we had the kite up. We realised we were too far West as we hadn’t expected to go that fast! We changed to the code 0 again and headed for Barfleur. Although we could see yachts on the horizon to left and right, we did not know where everyone else was. 

Then we heard Red Arrow on the radio and realised that they were quite a few miles ahead of us. Then we joined up with Arcsine and Longue Pierre on the run down to the finish.

We arrived in plenty of time for the lock gates, had lunch and a few rums, and later a very pleasant Vin d’Honneur followed by a nice dinner.

In the end we came second to NJOS who had continued further East and had gained the wind more quickly. Thanks to Red Arrow having a rating based on overlapping jibs (which didn’t really help them in this race) we beat them on corrected time but by less than a minute.

Part way across the channel on the return we gained an extra passenger – a tired racing pigeon that tried to land on the rig, missed, bounced down the spreaders and landed in the cockpit. It was dazed, but didn’t seem injured and came back to Lymington with us where Alex left it on the pontoon. 

Our thanks to our very generous sponsors and to all who helped organise this great weekend.


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