The COGS Saltash race – a direct route from Plymouth to Fowey appears a straightforward prospect but seldom is. After last year’s painfully light winds, the forecast of SW going W 3-4 promised ideal conditions but in reality a challenging race ensued for all but the biggest of the twenty-one entrants.
A closely fought start in IRC provided an exciting moment at the West Mallard buoy, with some boats luffed high of the start-line and an interesting beat down the harbour followed as the faster boats tacked West trying to avoid the worst of the incoming tide. A slightly less dramatic start was had by the handicap fleet, with regular place changes up the first beat and the boats that opted right too soon before the breakwater being punished as the race settled down for the long leg from Rame Head to Fowey.
The wind built steadily over the next hour, prompting some to change down headsails or reef mains as conditions deteriorated in squally rain showers. Almost as soon as these evolutions were complete the wind dropped considerably, leaving all but the fastest boats becalmed off Looe and having to work inshore to avoid the worst of the foul tide. From this point on there were difficult decisions to make between seeking more reliable breeze and avoiding the tide.
Place changes were frequent and competitors in the handicap fleet were delighted when the wind finally returned to offer them a superb tactical beat to Fowey with frequent place changes amongst the top five boats. In the COGS IRC fleet, first place went to Elusive (Neil Trathen), with Damien and Christine Bloor’s Daring second and Bob Warren’s Jackdaw 3rd. Jackdaw and Daring were both raced 2 handed. In the handicap fleet Paddy Royall in Xenia sailed a superb tactical race to finish with a twenty minute lead ahead of Euan Beattie and Charles Wharton in Aura, with Mike Lithgow’s Nightowler in third.
Report Euan Beattie