Draig O'r Mor Fastnet 2011 Campaign
Draig O'r Mor Sailing 4 Fastnet
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Disaster Strikes Draig
5/30/2011 5:30:54 PM

Disaster Strikes Draig

Having made a fantastic start to the Myth of Malham race, beat to Eddystone and fast spinnaker run past start point, at 1225 Saturday the unthinkable happened. Draig was hit by a gust during a gybe which went badly and her mast moved forward and creased below deck. As the wind eased the mast straightened and left a gaping gash across the front  of the mast from midsection to midsection. Sails were downed and a Pan Pan issued due to the fact we had a 40 mile motor to Weymouth Harbour and possibly insuffucient fuel. On the way back we witnessed rescues to other yachts by the coastguard helicopter & lifeboat. Draig now safely tucked up in Weymouth Harbour awaiting repairs - watch this space

Myth of Malham
5/24/2011 1:34:40 PM

Race start 0700 at Cowes round Eddystone rock & back to finish at north head near Hurst Castle

Crew shaping up as Kev, Kay, Nic, Helen, Neal, Albert, Andy. Going to have to work really hard to get that tidal gate at Portland - 6 hours

De Guingand Race Report
5/22/2011 5:34:37 PM


Draigy Enjoys the Breeze in the Rorc De Guingand Bowl

Peering through the spray on the Red Jet’s window we knew it was going to be an exhilarating weekend. Just visable in the distance was Draigy charging down the Solent under her storm kite. Lucky Kevin and Nic had an excellent delivery on Friday whilst Helen and I had been working. With a rendezvous in West Cowes,  a strategy meeting was formed in the Anchor Inn. We had been emailed the course – Cowes, Needles, Greenwich Light Vessel, Cowes, 127 nm and the forecast was for moderate to strong westerlies

We awoke to a breathlessness hailed by the marinas bunting. Everyone knew the plan. A good team, well rehearsed, we slipped out of the marina for an 0800 Saturday start on the Royal Yacht Squadron line. Usual drill, beating, adverse tide, so the Squadron was the favoured end. Except you couldn’t lay the line on starboard. Mid line there was a massive wind shift with a freshening breeze which put Hurst Narrows in our sights. Taking advantage of this we had a cracking start, windward boat and were arguably in first place for the first mile but then the wind eased. We had to foot off and drifted onto a leeward boat. Forced into a killer tack, which took us to the back of the fleet, unperturbed we chased on picking off our rivals one by one. By the time we cleared Hurst we were in 6th place. Staying high towards the needles others were forced to tack behind us and we took a couple more places. Some of the faster class, who started after us, began to catch up. We rounded the Needles Bridge buoy, big bear away and hoisted the biggest kite we have.

The fleet divided here. Some went radically close behind the Needles to dodge the tide and others sought the breeze offshore. We had studied our tidal streams and took a midline until the tide really began to pick up then sought refuge inshore about half way to St Catherine’s point. We certainly didn’t lose out by this strategy. The wind was steadily increasing and as we rounded the headland the seas increased and we saw more and more boats broaching. Keeping in really tight we were chomping up the miles but then some of the extra fast boats started careering in amongst us with their asymmetrics. We had a couple of near misses with bow sprits missing our push pit by inches so decided to keep out for a few minutes until they had passed.

Pushing away from the island, on a lay line for Greenwich Light Vessel, the wind really got up and the seas rolled on. We watched more and more competitors getting into trouble and changing down to smaller spinnakers. An X34 alongside us had a massive wrap around the forestay and struggled for half an hour before admitting defeat and retiring. Draigy never faltered and we enjoyed the rollercoaster ride carrying the same kite all the way. We were whooping with delight at each surge down the waves with a record speed of 13.5 knots. Spirits were high & concentration imperative otherwise a wipe out. Getting the spinnaker down after 8 hours was some feat and just as we positioned ourselves for the drop a big wave picked up Draigy’s stern and twisted her around. Helen and I let out a shriek in spite of ourselves.

With trepidation we cornered the light vessel for the beat but we need not have worried, Draig handled the seas impeccably. Sometimes my imprecise helming highlighted by a slam and a shower for those on the rail. Forced to concentrate hard, determined not to lose our downwind advantage, we beat on into the bitter cold wind of the night. The wind eased a little as we neared the Solent and we changed headsails but immediately it sprang up again to mock us. Trimming as if racing around the cans we held the larger sail but eventually had to submit to changing back to the smaller jib.

The lights of the Solent are a bewildering and fascinating sight offshore. Spinnaker tower like some crazy helter-skelter.  As we drew nearer and dawn approached our competitors appeared and it was clear we were doing well. At 5 miles from the line everyone has to radio the Committee boat to warn of arrival. It was good to hear some competitor’s position but not that Major Tom was 1.5 miles ahead of us. We had a tacking duel to the finish with an IMX 40 and finished within seconds of a Grand Soleil 45 at 0530 Sunday. We celebrated our finish with a breakfast beer.

Tired but elated we sailed into Cowes and had a couple of hours sleep until the tide turned and then headed for home at 9am. A typical beat all the way home we arrived on our mooring at 3pm and went ashore a very happy but rather sleep deprived team

Delighted to have finished 6th in class out of 24. We beat all the other British entries – just the French and Dutch to beat now. This put us 7th in the series so the pressure is on for a good result from the Eddystone Rock race over the bank holiday weekend. Also Jubilant to have been given £929 in donations for Sail 4 Cancer with a big chunk from the WSC Tea by the Sea party. Not far from our first £1,000 – can you help?
De Guingand Echo Article
5/22/2011 5:33:10 PM


Draig enjoys the Breeze –Fastnet Qualifier to Greenwich Light Vessel

Draig O’r Mor was in her element with some exhilarating sailing in strong breezes in the RORC Fastnet qualifying race last weekend. The De Guingand Bowl race started at Cowes at 0800 Saturday with a beat up the Solent to the Needles. Here spinnakers were launched and Draig revelled in a fantastic 8 hour rollercoaster ride, surfing on waves at 13+ knots to the Greenwich Light Vessel and rounding the mark at around 1800. From here it was a massive beat back to Cowes for the Finish at dawn, a total of 127 miles.


Draig really likes a blow and she never faltered as we watched others broaching and getting into trouble with their spinnakers. One yacht struggled for at least half an hour with a massive kite wrap before they were forced to retire. Some of the light displacement boats kept up with us on the spinnaker run but when we turned to beat back home Draigy’s weight really came in to her own and we left many behind as darkness fell.


With a team of 5 working well together we beat some strong competition and all the other Brits in our class and were delighted to finish 6th out of 24. Now lying 7th in the series the pressure is on to do well in the next race to Eddystone Light House and back over the bank holiday weekend.
cervantes race report
5/22/2011 5:29:35 PM


Draig O’r Mor first qualifier for the Fastnet Campaign. Cowes to Le Havre


I looked at the course that had been emailed to me with astonishment. We were on delivery passage approaching the Needles when it came in. I was pretty surprised that I had a signal & marvelling at modern technology then it hit me that this course was not exactly what I had expected. When we did the Le Havre race two years ago it was pretty much straightforward and straight there. This time we were to depart the Solent to the West leaving the Needles fairway buoy to port then beat against the tide round the island to Nab Tower on the East side and use this as our departure point for Le Havre 125 miles. Good Game Good Game. It’s not that I mind beating against the tide. But there’s something pretty sadistic about a course where you fight the tide for hours and just start to enjoy it as it turns in your favour. Then after about half an hour you turn a corner and have to fight back against it again - TWICE. Call me old fashioned but I’m more of a downtide downwind gal any day. (there’s a song there somewhere)


Anyway we had a good run ashore in Cowes Friday night and our new crew toasted the start of the campaign. Nic & Neal new to us from the RORC crewlist and Helen M-S on loan for the weekend– special thanks to her for turning down some distant relative’s wedding invitation. Other crew had not been available for this race so we were 5 up with Kevin and me (normally 8).


We had an interesting start (0800) narrowly avoiding the biggest boat you have ever seen, adopting some starting strategy of sitting stationary, broadside on the line with pole up ready to launch their spinnaker – reminiscent of the old WSC start line??? So we were not exactly in the best position on the line we had hoped for. Never mind we were clear away spinnaker up no trouble. Dead running, fighting the tide for an hour, keeping to the shallows. Exciting close quarter stuff. Not many Sigma 38’s as they had their nationals in Weymouth. A 101 like Terry’s sailed double handed doing well. Our old rivals Winsome Hepzibah & Iromiguoy running down towards Hurst & eventually some favourable tide. So here we were bombing along past the Needles to the Fairway buoy & after some discussion Kevin eventually decides to change the headsail ready for the beat. Now I’m not saying it was a bad decision. In fact we all applauded the headsail when it went up. It’s just I wish we had started just tad sooner. Before we knew it I was counting down the seconds to the mark – no pressure eh! All went well with a couple of seconds to spare but we certainly realised what the extra 3 crew members do!


Now we were beating towards St Catherine’s point. During RTI is a relatively easy duck from the Needles into the Bay out of the tide but from the Fairway buoy it’s a major detour & more of a balance – keeping check of the foul tide on each tack & tucking in fairly close. From St Catherine’s it was a proper old fashioned short tacking beat keeping in really tight with big holes in the breeze, dodging boats like Partouche ( Class 40) with its amazingly long bow sprit ( ooh err !). We were doing reasonably well until the port runner jammed in the block & we had to tack away from the others until it was hacksawed off. A spare soon in place and we were back in contention. As we approached Nab Tower we started to enjoy the favourable tide but looked over with dismay to see that no one had launched a spinnaker, as we had hoped, for the long haul across channel. As we followed we could see why and carried our largest head sail on this close reach against the tide out into the channel. Here we launched our new Code Zero with high hopes of carrying it through the night. Something was not quite right & we need to experiment more with this sail. We were rather bows down & rounding up dramatically which is not like Draig at all. Anyway we decided to drop in favour of the genoa at sunset & really didn’t lose any speed and were far more controllable.


Our approach to the turning mark A5 was pretty spot on (So I’m told. I was asleep at the time – confidence in my navigation? – no just knackered) and we took many places as others struggled to get round. From here it was a slight harden up and straight for the finish line as dawn approached. Its so fascinating to identify the boats whose nav lights you have been sailing with through the night. We finished alongside a Challenge yacht, a First 34.7 & X34 and were pleased to hear others from faster classes arriving after us. We were 15 out of 39 not bad for a first effort. We learned some valuable strategies and beat some serious competition.


With a forecast for stronger winds on Monday we sailed straight through the line & put the spinnaker up and headed for home – Kevin sneaked a beer in celebration at 0600 while the rest of us waited until at least 0800. Arriving in Weymouth Bay just as the fireworks started on the seafront was a real buzz. We had sailed 242 miles non stop over 38 hours, beat the rain and more importantly caught last orders.


As we toasted our homecoming I suggested an extra race in 2 weeks time & everyone thought it was a brilliant idea. A great team really working together by the end of the race and with full complement of 8 next time we should to do even better. The De Guingand Bowl is a race around marks in the channel over 24-36 hours on Saturday 14th May.
Cervantes race Echo Article
5/22/2011 5:27:06 PM

Fastnet Campaign to Raise £10,000 for Sail 4 Cancer First Qualifier to Le Havre


After months of careful preparation Draig O'r Mor finally hit the Royal Yacht Squadron start line at 0800 last Saturday to enter the RORC Cowes to Le Havre race.  This was the first of her qualifying races where her crew must show they are capable of handling the yacht through every possible extreme of the elements over a minimum of 300 miles in RORC races.


The Race Officials carefully planned the Le Havre race so most of Saturday was spent beating against the tide right round the Isle of Wight until a final UK departure mark at Nab Tower on the East of the Island was reached. From here it was a close reach across channel through the night to the finish line outside Le Havre early Sunday Morning. Draig O'r Mor completed this 125 mile race with a crew of 5 who had never sailed together before and were pleased to be ranked 15 in class out of 39 entries.


With a forecast of strong winds and thunderstorms on Monday, Draig sailed through the finish line & immediately sailed back to Weymouth during Sunday. “We arrived in Weymouth Bay just as the fireworks on the seafront appeared to herald our return. We had sailed 242 miles non stop over 38 hours and it was a real buzz to receive such a homecoming. We were pleased with our first result with a new crew. We did not disgrace ourselves, valuable strategies were learned and we still beat some serious competition. By the end of the race we were really working as a team and with full complement of 8 next time we hope to do even better.” So inspired, the team are entering an extra qualifying race in two weeks time - The De Guingand Bowl which is a race around marks in the channel over 24-36 hours.
De Guingand race this weekend
5/9/2011 9:50:35 PM

Looking forward to the race this weekend. Unfortunately short of crew again. 0800 start on saturday 24 - 36 hours of racing starting and finishing in the solent. Need to get out of the solent by 2pm sunday to beat the tide

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