RTYC Spring Excuse


After an informal supper at the Navigator’s Inn at Swanwick on Friday night 7 yachts assembled near the Royal Thames buoy on the Saturday morning.   After a very stormy Friday and a foreboding weather forecast on the Saturday to everyone’s surprise at midday the Solent cleared to a fine sunny and moderate breeze of 10 -14 knots just in time for the start.
With Nick Agar’s motor yacht as the Committee boat the fleet ranging from Brian Smullen’s 55 foot classic “Cuilaun” to Peter Tracey’s 27 foot “Synergy” set off on a beat up to the Royal Southern buoy off the mainland against the west going tide.   There were two tactical options to beat the tide either going inshore or across the Bramble bank and the fleet split fairly evenly into the two factions.
It was a close fought contest at the first mark with “Solent Mistress”, an Oceanis 45, chartered by Simon Harby and his crew, “Polar Bear”, helmed by John Westlake and his crew, and Peter Bainbridge and his family in “Whisper” all vying to round the first mark in front proving that both routes to the first mark were equally successful.
On the next reaching leg it was “Cuilaun” that started to show her off wind speed and started to catch the leaders at over 7 knots.   Simon Harby took a conservative line given the deep draught of his charter boat which left him having to beat up to the second mark of Royal Yacht Squadron allowing the other 3 to slip past him.
The following yachts, Simon Laver’s “Mariposa”, “Synergy”, Tim Fook’s “Gryphon” and David Hiscock in “Teal” were slowed by the unexpected drop in the wind and were thus affected by the tide starting to change from west flowing to east.
In the final run to the finish again tactics came in to play and “Polar Bear” lost her slim lead that she had picked up by some good tactical decisions during the race to “Whisper” who came further in shore where the dying breeze held longer.  Whisper finished a mere 27 seconds ahead after 2 hours of racing followed by “Cuilaun” only three and a half minutes later.
On corrected time “Whisper’s” shorter waterline length gave her the edge winning her the coveted Festival of Britain Challenge Cup by one minute over “Polar Bear” followed by “Cuilaun”.
The assembled fleet and guests then assembled as guests of John and Jane Terry at the Commodore’s house for pre-dinner drinks followed by a most convivial dinner at the Island Sailing Club for 45 members and guests.
Given that 9 yachts were registered to enter (two dropping out at the last minute due to illness or mechanical issues) and the fact that 45 attended the dinner clearly the Spring Excuse is becoming a “not to be missed” start to the season for the cruising community.
Special thanks goes to Nick Agar for supplying his fine motor yacht “WotKnot” as a committee boat, George Ehlers, Richard and Jenny Bundy for assisting  the CSO with flags and sounds, John and Jane Terry for hosting us all, new member Gary O’Grady for acquiring all the pre-dinner drinks and David Hiscock for being  the Event manager.

Cuilaun - Brian Smullen