“Chalk and cheese comes to mind to describe the weekend’s weather for this year’s MOCRA Bembridge Regatta; Saturday was a SSW F5 gusting F6 with rain & drizzle for most of it, and Sunday was a lovely sunny day with S’Easterly F1 to F2 breeze. So certainly some challenging racing for the six multihulls that made it to Bembridge. Disappointing numbers but nevertheless it was great to see some old faces and meet some new ones.
Although the handicap system is of course designed to allow the faster and the slower boats to compete on an equal footing, it can end up with a long gap between races, so for the second year running, the average lap time format was in use for all bar the long distance race on Saturday where a bit of creative accounting was brought into play.
The first race started with a short beat from Janson to Under Tyne, then a reach to Tara and a long run to Warner and back. Inevitably Phil Cotton in Buzz lead the way and completed 3 rounds in just under an hour and a half which was enough to secure him first place on corrected time by three and a half minutes ahead of Stuart Gummer in Humdinger. Jonathan Hill in his new Dragonfly 25S was third, three minutes behind.
A similar course for the second race but including Bembridge Ledge & St Helens again saw Buzz well out in front, but with Humdinger chasing hard, it was the latter who took first place on corrected time by under two minutes after just over an hours racing. Can Lah
was third again, with James Holder in his Dragonfly 28S, Flame Skimmer, taking fourth place on corrected time. It was great to see the Homewood family from Lymington in their Farrier F9A appear through the drizzle in time for the race and although conditions meant the children stayed below, full credit to Steve and Jane who were still smiling when they finished just in front of Flame Skimmer. Although obviously much slower than the other boats, John Douglas and his crew on Spirit of Scott Bader pulled out all the stops and whilst they were still last on corrected time, it was not by very much.
For the final race of the day which was scheduled to be the long distance race and with Chimet showing the breeze pretty steady at 20 knots, the prospect of visiting the Nab Tower was too good an opportunity to miss so all bar Alini who d
ecided one race was enough for them and Spirit of Scott Bader who was set a shorter course, found themselves heading off to the Nab. As hoped, the reach from Bembridge Ledge provided some exhilarating sailing although as they neared the Nab, the sea state increased and there were apparently a few nervous moments on the way to Warner as the wind increased to over 25 knots. Although Buzz hurtled round in just under an hour to obviously take line honours, Humdinger’s one hour and thirteen minutes was good enough to secure her second win of the day on corrected time. Can Lah picked up her third, third place of the day and Flame Skimmer & Spirit of Scott Bader were awarded fourth equal.
Sunday’s forecast was very different and initially it looked as if there might not be enough wind to provide any meaningful racing. However, there were just enough zephyrs fr
om the SE to make it worthwhile. Although scheduled to be a “fast & furious” race, the first race of the day proved to be anything but. It was more about getting the weight distribution right and keeping the boat moving in the light airs. Whilst not helped by a rather questionable line when the Committee boat swung to the tide rather than the breeze, the first start was not a success and saw the General Recall flag displayed. The second start was better but had Spirit of Scott Bader called over the line and also having to take a penalty for barging in at the
Committee Boat. Buzz was soon well out in front, but it was Alini who managed to find the best of the breeze and having always been just ahead of Humdinger came in first by just under a minute on corrected time. Can Lah struggled to maintain momentum at times in the light airs, as did Flame Skimmer who retired after a problem with her asymmetric spinnaker. Full marks to Spirit of Scott Bader who persevered and finished with lots of smiles from her crew.
With everyone happy to have a final race despite the paucity of wind, a simple windward/leeward course using Tara & Britten was set. Unusually Buzz found themselves initially well off the pace at the start, however it did not take her long to get free of the rest of the fleet and into clear air. As expected she then zipped round course, lapping Spirit of Scott Bader just after they had rounded the leeward mark. On the first round, Humdinger was just ahead of Alini after taking a very different line on the downwind leg; however the latter crept through on the second beat and finished a couple of minutes ahead which was just enough to secure another first place on corrected time. Can Lah meanwhile also took a very
different route on the first downwind to the rest which looked as if it had paid off, but it was not to be and although she finished ahead of Flame Skimmer, it was not by a lot. Although not fast enough to get off last place, the crew of Spirit of Scott Bader had all clearly thoroughly enjoyed themselves and crossed the finish line with broad smiles on their faces.
A thoroughly worthwhile couple of days with some great racing in challenging conditions. Obviously a pity that we did not have more boats, hopefully things will have sorted themselves out by next September as it would be a great shame if this annual Regatta ends up being abandoned.
Congratulations to Stuart Gummer and his crew on Humdinger who was first overall, one point ahead of Phil Cotton and Buzz. Jonathan Hill in Can Lah was third and the Homewood family fourth in Alini.
Although Redwing & One-Design racing was programmed for both days, there were not enough takers on Saturday afternoon who wanted to brave the conditions and on Sunday morning they did not fancy what they thought would end up as a drift.”