Race report from Chris Morton on the Pogo 850 "L'Aventure"
As I started tracking the weather forecasts it was becoming apparent an active depression was going to quickly sweep through the English Channel on Saturday morning.
Would we, could we! Safely get into port prior to its arrival, our hopes for St Vaast and the lock diminished, and with it sampling the delights of our title sponsor "Maison Gosselin". Cherbourg as backup with its 24hr access was also quickly dismissed.
After much discussion we quickly rearranged our races to Weymouth and back, allowing us to be all tucked up safely in port before the storm arrived, huge thanks to Kirsteen who must have writer's cramp from all the amended SI's.
Offshore Series Race 4
With the start brought forward an hour we actually had a great forecast for a windward leg to Weymouth. Racing double handed, Azora volunteered to be our committee start boat. All boats clear on the line the fleet headed West, with a bit more North in our breeze than expected Wee Bear bravely hoisted her Code Zero and shot off. At Hurst the wind backed and the first strategic decision was North Head or Needles channel. All but Wee Bear headed down the channel. Unusually we all chose to stick close to the Shingles, a few of us too close for comfort, I had to make a sharp turn to port to find deeper water. Pyxis and Roxanne jostled for clean air and deeper water as we approached Bridge.
As we exited the channel the big question on our minds was, would the wind stay with us to allow all to carry tide past St Albans. The bigger boats started to stretch out across the bay, Bonkers and Amy Lou eeking out a small advantage.
At Durlston Wee Bear popped out of the Bay, no real loss or gain, the fleet all on a long tack out in to the channel except L'Aventure, although my routing said similar I knew much better and headed for the inshore route through St Albans. The results show whether this was a good move or not!! Azora took a gamble offshore to cheat the tide, then reaped the reward blasting down the side of Portland with new tide
The routing didn't have it all though, everyone beat theirs, even me, the wind stayed perfect the whole race.
Eventually we all finished pretty much in handicap order, the faster boats just in before dark, L'Aventure bringing up the rear, running the gauntlet of pot buoys in a very dark entrance to Weymouth.
Many thanks to James on Moonshadow who I swapped my mooring ropes for a cold beer, I paid the price for parking and dumping the boat at 0600hrs when the storm arrived, getting up twice to tidy halyards that sounded as though they would wake the whole fleet.
Safely tucked up in port the storm blew through, didn't feel too bad but away from shelter upto 40 knots raged.Time for a few jobs and prize giving, the winners flag proudly hoisted into the gale on Amy Lou.
Offshore Series Race 5
With the storm blown through we were left with perfect offwind conditions. Again Azora acted as committee boat and all the fleet cleanly away, no clever routing required, hoist the spinnaker and blast off, the occasional wind shift off the land hotting up the angle and L'Aventure popped onto the plane, all of us having a fast sail.
I thought St Albans could be a bit bumpy, but when I arrived it was unusually flat, the expected overfalls actually half way to Durlston, easily spotted by Roxanne and Wee Bear rocking wildly, spinnakers all over the place. Pyxis showed her usual seawomanship and dropped the spinnaker early, I as usual waited for the inevitable wind shift and massive broach, I was in good company as mine was quickly followed Roxanne's.
As we passed Durlston the wind veered slightly, most of the fleet swapping to white sails. L'Aventure hoisted the Code 0 which suited the conditions perfectly, Bonkers and Pyxis were hot on my heels all the way across Poole bay, as we approached the Needles Wee Bear, Roxanne and Amy Lou broke away to North Head, the greater apparent wind giving them a boost, again the fleet brushing with the shallow stuff
As I rounded SW Shingles I hoped to keep the zero flying, Pyxis and Bonkers now within shouting distance, I knew if I could just keep it up it would be perfect for the reach down to Craft Insure and the finish. The wind gods stayed on my side and as I was able to bear away at Hurst I just managed to get some distance on my chasers.
The North Head crew had already finished, carrying fair tide all the way home.
Another great race for the unstoppable Amy Lou, and dare I say it great result overall for L'Aventure.
From what was nearly a cancelled weekend it turned out to be two perfect races.
Race 4 Results
Race 5 Results
Ofshore Series Standings after 5 races