No-one likes to see a collision on the race course, but in a classic port/starboard incident it happened to us

One of the joys of this regatta has been the chance to sail a variety of yachts in different classes, reports Tim Thomas. Thursday found me trimming the jib on an old Farr half-tonner called Les Remous, and it turned out to be something of a day of drama on the race course.

There were two big collisions on the water, one between yachts Freja and Mayumi, and one, unfortunately, involving ourselves and Cider With Rosie. It was a classic port/starboard incident, right on the windward mark in the middle of the channel where the current fairly rips through at four knots. As we closed the mark it was obvious we weren’t going to lay it, so we tacked onto starboard to try and get well up-current of it. Cider With Rosie came in to pass the mark on port tack, and in spite of our calls, they held course.

There was nothing we could do, without enough room to duck them and unable to go about as tacking would have meant the current pushing us onto the mark at a time when several boats were rounding, so we braced ourselves and hoped. Stopped dead as we smashed into the toerail at the mid-point of their cockpit, we gathered ourselves quickly and tried to get some speed back.

It was obvious that no-one was hurt, our bow was not holed and they were okay, so we accepted their apologies and carried on racing. It was in the very nature of this friendly event that no harsh words were spoken. When we inspected the damage back on the mooring, it was obvious that quite a chunk had been taken out of the stem, mainly by the bow’s impact with their toerail. The only damage they suffered was a scratch and a slight bend in their toerail; they accepted responsibilty, agreed to pay for the damage, and the rum was poured in the bar.

Curiously, we still managed to place fourth in the Cruising I class in spite of the collision, so we had something to celebrate after all?