SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW ST MALO LIES
Buckshot's 155-mile RORC race to St Malo 2-5 July 1999 turned out to be an asymptotic mastery of wind and tide.
Regular crew members Mark Lewis (owner/skipper), Chris Eade (watch leader), Gill Bevington and Susan Muir were joined by Simon Petley (recruited at the LCSC masked ball), Alex Plenty (management consultant) and Nancy (first offshore race) for an excellently-positioned start at 1pm on Friday 2 July. We were amongst the leading boats heading down the western Solent under spinnaker towards The Needles and, for a brief 12 seconds of glory, we WERE the leading boat as we passed Newtown Creek!
Gradually, the fleet dispersed, as each yacht sailed its own course across the English Channel. The first night brought wind-over-tide-induced crew seasickness, resulting in the banning of chicken korma tins from Buckshot's provisions list. The midnight watch were amazed to find themselves temporarily escorted by a school of whales! The first evidence of anything unusual was a most unpleasant pong of sulphur dioxide, which had each crew member eyeing each other suspiciously through the darkness, but then blowholes were excitedly spotted in the phosphorescent water and boatspeed was temporarily forgotten.
By Saturday afternoon, the wind had died completely and we were at anchor off the Minkies. Just as tea was served, the wind picked up and we continued our slow advance southwards towards the ever-elusive St Malo, finally reaching the Fl(5) green buoy marking the finish line at 03:40 Sunday morning, after 38.5 hours of racing.
We never actually got to St Malo itself, as the tide was too low and we immediately headed north for 10 hours to Guernsey, stopping off at St Peter Port for showers and fish & chips. Alex and Nancy took the high-speed cat back to Weymouth (journey time: 2 hours!), while the rest of the crew enjoyed a leisurely 20-hour cruise back to Hamble, which included an early-morning dip by Simon to clear trailing weed from the propellor.
On return, a quick look at the www.rorc.org website showed that we were well back in the fleet. The smart money had been on a deep reach to the west to pick up the forecast wind shift and get past the Minkies before the wind dropped. Perhaps we might set up a link to a reliable meteorological site via the LCSC website?