The crew of the timber-built, one-time Admiral’s Cupper appreciate a quiet day and have trouble with their navigation in the Little Dennis Cup, son of the Pendennis Cup.
Yesterday may have been a lay day at the Pendennis Cup but
navigating one’s way through the quite superb Moet & Chandon sponsored
five-course lunch at the Pendennis Shipyard required considerable skill. Each
course was accompanied by a Moet & Chandon vintage and to say that the champagne
producer had our undivided attention was an understatement. Fascinating and
So it was something of a relief to some that today dawned
virtually windless and relatively dry although by the time PRO Peter Craig
started briefing us over the radio about starting plans the omens weren’t
looking too good. Would we race at all we wondered?
Aboard Firebrand – I was back again to help with numbers -
we lollopped around two or three miles offshore waiting for a promised NNW and
when it came we were off fairly sharpish. With owner Ed Dubois en route home,
John Boyce was steering and local man Tyrone Harvey from Pendennis held the
navigating reins, always a daunting task when you’ve joined the boat for the
My new sheet grinder was Forbes, a Canadian who we’d
press-ganged along with Lizz and Deborah the previous evening. Lizz and Deborah
had introduced us to the mixologist (honestly) at a Falmouth cocktail bar, the
effect of which was further complex navigation back to respective digs in the
early hours. Some used the postponement to good effect by snatching deep sleep.
As I say, we were off rather sharpish, but soon found
ourselves at the front of the four boat Class 3 fleet with Tomahawk, Pinuccia
and Mikado in hot pursuit. We were looking good until the afterguard expressed
concern that they could not see the weather mark, which should have been a
black inflatable under Pendennis Point. There was a red one but nothing noir.
Was this the mixologist effect? No. First error – we’d failed to read an amendment
stating that the movable weather mark could be black or red…grrrrr!
Being the lead boat and not knowing quite where you’re going
is unnerving for the helmsman, to say the least, and two boats slipped through
before we rounded the err, red mark and bore away onto a gentle spinnaker
We were quite surprised when a gentlemanly luffing match
ensued between Mikado, Tomahawk and ourselves. “Not before lunch, please….”
pleaded one of our crew. We came out of it reasonably well as it happened, but
then threw it away when we failed to pinpoint the leeward mark, overstood and
ended up struggling in 2nd place on the water. We were doing
ourselves no favours.
We endured a truly ghastly plain sail fetch to a mark in the
middle of the bay during which Mikado rolled us and Tomahawk extended her lead.
In the distance I noticed that Unfurled had slipped into the lead in Class 2,
was almost at the finish and as the wind seemed to die we were looking at a
long last beat.
But then it perked up and Firebrand, who doesn’t like it
when the breeze dips below 10 knots, came alight. Tomahawk went left to
presumably get out of the still ebbing tide early and we went right with the
rest of the fleet because we detected more breeze.
We overhauled Mikado and although Pinuccia was giving us all
a display of ridiculous pointing ability, we were faster and high enough in 12
knots of true to get ahead of the other two right handers.
Way out to the left stood Tomahawk, a distance hankerchief
of white heading for the Helford.
Surely she was history..? John Boyce wasn’t at all sure and although we
had her on corrected time she would eventually beat us across the Pendennis
Point/Black Rock line leaving the final order as Mikado, Firebrand, Tomahawk
and Pinuccia. This means we’re 2nd overall in the charmingly
entitled Little Dennis Cup and there’s everything to play for tomorrow. Now
where’s that mixologist….?
Photo courtesy Richard Langdon (oceanimages.com)