Event review by Sam Marshall, J24 Rep
For the first time ever, Plymouth Regatta was run from Plymouth Yacht Haven over the 13-15 July. Incorporating the Seascape 18 Nationals, a competitive J24 fleet and 2 IRC fleets, it was set to be a great weekend, with perfect weather forecast, as well as a great on and off the water program. The marina's friendly staff proved to be very helpful getting the boats ready and launched in a timely manner allowing free parking, trailer storage, berth and launch and recovery for bargain prices, encouraging many sailors to travel by road as well as by sea.
Whilst the Seascape's enjoyed three days of championship racing, for everyone else the event kicked off on Friday evening with the Chris Moyse Pursuit Race. Chris was a huge figure in Plymouth Sailing and the PPSA until his passing last year, so it was thought that a race dedicated to him to start the Regatta was a perfect opportunity to get all of the sailors together, as well as remember him. Race Officer Mike Pearson started the slow boats in a light 5-10 knot beat towards the breakwater, with the left hand side of the beat working best for the lead slow boats and J24s. That was until the wind shut off and switched 100 degrees. The wind shift favoured the later-starting quick boats able to start with spinnakers on a broad to tight reach while the lead boats were forced to sit and wait for the wind to fill in. The lead J24s were able to cling onto the top 10, but the earlier starting white sailed boats were left on the left hand side of the sound. The unexpected wind shift led to a shortened course, and flurry of boats coming in to finish within seconds of each other. David Oliver's Xtorsion8 took the win and kicked off the Regatta with a paella party in the Ancasta Marquee.
Photos © Tom Gruitt / www.tom-gruitt.co.uk
What an incredible weekend of racing for the handicap fleet at this years Port Of Plymouth Regatta. With the other fleets racing in the Sound, race officer Mike Pearson used the Eastern side of the Sound to good effect sending the fleet beating into the Southerly sea breeze for the four scheduled races of the day. Jennycliff bay played a big part in the tactics giving the fleet the option to keep out of the tide but with the possibility of less breeze.
Race One, all boats were pushed to the Pin end of the start line by the tide, however as expected once into clear air the fleet separated left and right. The bigger boats looked like making it a one sided race by getting to the windward mark first, however the Beneteau 31.7 Moonfish and smaller J80 Joie de Vivre managed to get around the corners quicker, and soon found some space downwind from the larger boats such as the Oyster 41 Snowstorm and Sigma 38 Aquaessence. This was a short race and boats were punished by their handicaps for any errors.
By race two the breeze had built to a steady 14 knots and was making it easier for the smaller boats to sail to their handicaps, with the Hunter Delta Avago and the Trapper 300 Joburg right on the pace and holding position on the leaders. Jos of Avon made the right choices however, and triumphed taking first place.
Race Three started with the breeze steady and only a slight wind shift, the R.O now started to set a slightly longer course and the larger Oyster made good use of this to stay at the front of the fleet only challenged by Moonfish and Joie de voire but the Delta made good progress in the middle of the fleet.
Race 4, With a real possibility that the Sea breeze could easily diminish and being mindful of the time limit for the smaller boats like the Dufour 2 the R.O reverted back to a short course to end the day and Joie de Vivre soon took the lead and stayed in front all the way round. Jos of Avon was going well though, and the Hunter Impala Wisecrack put in its first top 3 of the event.
Day Two and with less breeze but still Southerly the format was the same with only a planned shipping movement too break up the day. The two Hunter Impalas were coming into their own with the lighter breeze and Maverick and Wisecrack both coming out of Jennycliff to make the windward mark first.
Race 6 The final race of the regatta and much to play for and still the threat of the breeze dying off completely. Wisecrack had found her feet and kept to the front of the fleet most of the way around the course. Moonfish took the long way around and went deep into Jennycliff trying to gain the advantage over Wisecrack and Jos of Avon who were both going straight to the leeward mark however, giving them the advantage. At the end of the leg Wisecrack and Joss of Avon got 1st and 2nd with Moonfish coming out 3rd. These three boats were to make up the top 3 overall, with Jos of Avon in first, Moonfish in second and Wisecrack third.
White Sail and Single-Handed
This year saw a rise in White Sail entry numbers and racing taking place on both Saturday and Sunday, not just Saturday as last year. Whilst local competitors supported the class, visitors were attracted from as far as Kent and Gloucestershire and very welcome they were too. Free overnight berthing at Yachthaven encouraged crews to travel and dip their toe in the water of competitive Yacht Racing.
Saturday morning saw a gentle wind, giving rise to a decision to bring all classes inside the Breakwater in the hope of gaining a land generated breeze, adding an extra dimension for the White Sail Fleet, whilst some prefer the wide open water without too many other boats to negotiate, the combined fleets provided a glorious sight and good race management allowed for safe racing with Fleets well spread out.
With boats required to start in the allotted half hour, Skippers had the advantage of being able to choose their moment and judge the pro and cons of wind, tide, other water user activity; some even got it right!
Race Officer Mike Pearson set a course to circumnavigate Plymouth Sound and boats headed off to the Eastern Entrance and then across to the Western Entrance with most giving sufficient water to the Moored RFA vessel which proved to be a very effective windbreak for Pearlfisher, others seeing her difficulty kept further away and sneaked past, with a smile and a wave!
Sunday morning gave rise to even lighter winds and the longer course, sending boats outside the Breakwater to Knap Buoy gave an added dimension to the race, with some still wondering if any mackerel caught should be forfeited to the Race Crew in the Start Box or indeed could be considered external assistance, if of course they were pulling the boat in question forward rather than holding her back. The longer course proved a buoy too far for one boat which regretfully failed to meet the time limit, but the skipper assured the R.O. that the event had been enjoyable!
Well done to Rumpleteazer for gaining overall 1st Place, the rest of the Fleet applaud you and look forward to a return challenge in 2019 hopefully with again more boats to engender the gentle competitive spirit and give opportunity for those not involved in regular Club Racing to have a fun weekend on the water "Cruising with a Purpose".
The single-handed class enjoyed a longer saunter, starting from a committee boat at the end of the Breakwater, the fleet was able to do some longer legs to avoid too much tiring-out of the helms! Zorra won on corrected time by a neat margin of just over seven and a half minutes, ahead of Tony Head's Triple Venture.
Overall Regatta Results
Our thanks go to all the race officers, Sean Semmens, Dave Curno and Mike Pearson, and the line crews and volunteers, without whom the event would not be able to run and to our sponsors and partners, Cattewater Harbour Commissioners, Ancasta Yacht Sales, Plymouth Yacht Haven, The Treasury Plymouth, Dart Sails and Covers, Freshwave, Mount Batten Boathouse and Tom Gruitt Photography, for their generous support. See you next year!