Fowey Royal Regatta 2016
Every year I make the short 7 mile journey down the road to my local regatta week - the Fowey Royal Regatta. It is a week packed full of racing, carnivals, music & friends. The event starts on a Sunday with a long distance yacht race to Falmouth with an overnight stay and return trip on Monday. The dinghy racing starts on the Tuesday, though Monday provides a great day to get out on the water and practice sailing in the Fowey estuary, something I only do once every 12 months. Monday evening's entertainment is a firework display, live bands both on the quay and in the Royal Fowey Yacht Club. Then its time to get down to business.
I arrived on Tuesday and made sure I was at the boat park in plenty of time. In fact, I arrived to find Flag H was flying meaning that the racing was to be held inside the harbour due to the southwesterly wind, which would made it difficult to get out of the harbour. So I actually ended up being there 2 hours before we could launch. This resulted in a quick trip to one of my sponsors, Niles Bakery, for a delicious bacon sandwich and of course a cuppa. I went back to the dinghy park and began relaxing as the boat was already rigged from Monday, all that was needed was to step the mast and thread the mainsheet. I got kitted up - it was quite warm so I went for my ThermaFlex Longjohn with RaceArmour Lite Shorts. Conditions were very patchy so it was all about finding the patches of breeze and staying out on the right side of the tide. I sailed consistently in both races with good boat speed and decision making to finish with a 1st and a 2nd.
Wednesday was much the same as Tuesday, the SW wind was still present though was a little stronger so again flag H was flying. Kit choices were exactly the same though with a ProLite Aquafleece to take the wind chill away. The wind was a lot more consistent on this day so it was far more tactical and strategic as my closest competitors had similar boat speed, though chaos at the first windward mark with lots of Fowey River Boats approaching at the same time meant that I lost out and rounded in 4th place. A solid downwind and a text book second beat meant that I rounded the next windward mark in 1st but just lost out on corrected time to a Solo who sailed really well to finish just a few boat lengths behind me. I finished the Wednesday with two 2nd places. During the evening we went to the prizegiving at the yacht club then watched the carnival which was really good - lots of different entries including the famous Fowey Town Band, who are a bunch of drunk blokes playing musical instruments to make the funniest & loudest sounds possible. Great Fun!
Thursday came and the wind had completely shifted and we had less of it, now coming from the NW direction meaning it was slightly cooler. Rooster attire for the day was SuperTherm LongJohn, ThermaFlex Top & ProLite Aquafleece. We were racing outside the harbour which would finally bring some "proper wind" - at least it should of done. Instead we were greeted with a 5 knot breeze that shifted 20 degrees at a time. This meant we sat under a postponement for about half an hour. Racing finally got underway, and I made a really good start winning the pin end and getting out to the band of wind quickly. I rounded the windward mark in 2nd, but a poor down wind saw me round the leeward mark in 4th position, which I held for the rest of the race. The afternoon was much the same - great start, good upwind but poor downwind speed let me down, which is a shame as that usually is my most reliable skill. So I finished with two 4ths - my bad day.
Friday brought the most exciting conditions of the week. Again Flag H was flying as it was gusting 20 knts in the estuary increasing to 25 in the afternoon. Kit remained the same as the air temperature was still warm enough to warrant using the ProLite Aquafleece - it is my favourite item of clothing for summer sailing no matter how windy it is. Again, starting was on point though the strong winds meant I struggled upwind as I'm still on the light side of the optimum weight for a Radial in the upper wind strengths. Downwind I was absolutely flying which meant I was able to make up any distance I lost during the upwind leg - any capsizing would win or lose the race. I was needing some kind of luck but it never happened so had to settle for 3rd place. The afternoon brought even stronger winds which meant the upwind was a real struggle, but the downwind was so fun all the pain was forgotten about. So again I finished with a 3rd, meaning I ended the regatta in 2nd place overall amongst some very good local and national sailors. The new Pro Aquafleece Rigging Coat proved very popular in the dinghy park whilst de rigging in the strong breeze.
To summarise I had a brilliant week filled with lots of fun & laughter, delighted that I found my starting rhythm again, but still work to be done elsewhere around the race track. A big thank you to a few families who looked after me for the week providing me with hot showers, beds and food. Finally, as always, a huge thank you to my two main sponsors - Rooster Sailing and May Whetter & Grose Estate Agents - I really couldn't do it without your generous support.