As a first time racer, Harriett Robinson heads onto 112ft Unfurled for the Pendennis Cup and crossed the line first!

The weather report for Falmouth hadn’t looked promising all week, yet I was still somewhat disappointed when I arrived on the dock at 9am this morning to see Falmouth’s beautiful harbour blurred by sea fog and heavy rain.

I was about to join 112ft Royal Huisman sloop Unfurled for 4 days of racing in the Pendennis Cup, and the difficult conditions failed to dampen the competitive spirit of the crew. The German-Frers designed aluminium boat has just received new 3di sails – just like the J Class – and has an equally impressive team including Campbell Field as navigator.

Having never raced onboard a superyacht in a regatta, this was my first time, and as trimmer Steve Brannagh kindly showed me the ropes -excuse the pun- I took to my role of ‘button pusher’ of the hydraulic winches with all the enthusiasm of a new crewmember in their shiny foulies.

The 2012 Pendennis Cup has the largest entry list yet, with 12 yachts competing in this year’s regatta, ranging from 43ft sloop Firebrand to 200ft schooner Athos. From the cockpit tactician Mark briefed us on the course ahead. As a Falmouth local, I was confident on my knowledge of the bay but less-so of my role onboard. What if I got something wrong? What if I fell overboard?

As we headed out to the first mark I began to understand my new responsibilities and made friends with the Lewmar 122 winch I was using to trim the range of sails they carry onboard.

Whilst following instruction to trim or ease off on the headsail sheets, I started to think that maybe superyacht racing isn’t quite as daunting as it looks. My main concern was keeping my footing and gripping on to a wet teak deck as the boat settled in to a long port tack towards the weather mark.
As I began to relax and enjoy the sight of Adela rounding Gull rock behind us, Unfurled‘s North Sails Code 0 sail tore to shreds and I ran to the foredeck with the rest of the team in a frantic effort to haul the sail onto the deck before it dragged in the water.

It was a nerve-wracking experience to watch the eye-wateringly expensive sail pulled into its sailbag on the foredeck; where did the fault lie? Thankfully I was reassured it was not a result of my winch button duties.

On the final beat we were up against the three big schooners, and we were faster and pointing higher than all of them. Closed-in by cloud, it was grey and wet, and as we powered towards the finishing mark, most of Adela and Athos‘ rig were lost in the gloom.

Unfurled crossed the line first, and delighted that my first racing experience was a winning one, I was disappointed to hear that on corrected time, Marriette and Adela took 1st and 2nd. Still, there’s always the rest of the Pendennis Cup to polish off my racing skills!

Did the rain spoil our fun? No, but I am hoping for a drier day tomorrow. If only to help my efforts to stay onboard…

Click here for more Pendennis Cup news straight from Falmouth.