The Pendennis Cup resumes in 30 knots of breeze, two disqualifications and the promise of some better weather - David Glenn was onboard Mariette
Photo – Jonathan Money gets down to business during a tough day aboard Mariette
Spectators had a pretty raw deal on day two of The Pendennis Cup but for anyone lucky enough to be aboard one of the four yachts which got to the start line they witnessed a spectacular day’s sailing in winds which exceeded 30 knots at times. As Jonathan Money, Mariette’s racing helmsman, said from behind his oilskin hood and rain splattered spectacles: “If the sun had been shining that would have been one of the greats!”
You certainly needed very good wet weather gear because the rain was penetrative, large lumps of Falmouth Bay regularly swept the leeward deck and in general it was a dank, challenging day. But Mariette was in her element and made mincemeat of the conditions. Most of the Falmouth Week Regatta was called off.
Principal Race Officer Neil Andrew did a remarkably good job of laying a square line with visibility less than a mile. Unlike the previous day’s start, which resulted in two disqualifications (see end of story) the fleet behaved themselves and there was enough separation to keep hearts rates down. The start line was lengthened too.
Aboard Mariette skipper Charlie Wroe, helmsman Jonathan Money, mainsheet trimmer Nick Wood and – wait for it – veteran double Olympic gold medallist Rodney Pattisson, put us on the line, on the gun and in a peach of a position to weather of Adela with Mariquita and Velacarina crossing late.
A short beat ensued during which John Boyce, aboard Mariette as a guest, noted that Adela’s enormous mainsail leech was flogging dangerously, probably as a result of a broken or lost batten. The giant reef blocks could really do some damage… Despite this, Adela with Stan Pearson on the helm, was going like an absolute train and would be invincible on elapsed time. She quickly disappeared into the murk.
We thundered into the top mark on port, tacked, rounded, bore away and set with barely a voice raised. With Tim ‘Fish” Bailey and Cappa on the bow and a team of exceedingly well drilled crew hoisting the main and fore topsails plus the giant gollywobbler, Mariette steamed off on the downwind leg reaching speeds up to 16 knots (note: I managed that aboard BMW Oracle last week). Down towards the bottom mark it looked like a couple of gybes to get onto the left hand layline and just as we teed up the first manoeuvre a squall with 32 knots of true wind beneath it gave the crew some challenging moments.
There was a suggestion that Mr Money had put Mariette through the gybe a bit sharpish, but the fact of the matter is that the speed didn’t drop below 13 knots or so and the kite snapped set on port in double quick time. Cracking gybe…
At this stage we had Adela vaguely in our sights and she got even closer when she appeared to have trouble in her gybe onto the layline and shredded her (new) kite. She went into the bottom mark bare headed and started the long beat to The Manacles similarly denuded.
John Boyce then pointed out that she was putting a reef in her main and it later transpired that the big schooner had indeed damaged the leech of her tired looking sail probably as a result of the early flogging. It certainly didn’t look pretty back on the dock.
Mariette came onto the breeze and knuckled down to a long slog to weather in increasingly foul weather and gusts which got into the high 20s. It was amazing how well this wonderful yacht was able to stand up to her vast press of canvass and as Money and co worked the right side of the course, St Anthony’s Head looming quite suddenly out of the rain, we devoured the beat without incident – apart from lunch.
Adela meanwhile had re-organised herself and had stayed to the left of the course. She rounded the weather mark well ahead but not with enough distance to deal with Mariette’s new and improved rating.
We saw very little of Mariquita and Velacarina but as we crossed the line there was worthy congratulation for finishing a tough race with everyone and everything intact.
The incident on the start line for race one resulted in a combined protest hearing last night with the result that Mariette and Velacarina were disqualified while Adela was exonerated under Rule 64.1c. This leaves Adela and Mariette with one race apiece.
It’s a lay day today – racing resumes tomorrow – allegedly in the sun.