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EAORA Walker Challenge

Filed Under (EAORA) by tony on 23-07-2011

Great day on the water with a 50 mile downwind race in 20 knots from Levington to Ramsgate and we won!!!! Only by 9 seconds to Oystercatcher – the boat was flying.

For full report from Yachts and Yachting below:

This year’s Walker Challenge Cup race on 23rd July was a 50 mile downhill sprint from Harwich to Ramsgate rounding the Gunfleet, Longsand and Kentish Knock sand banks on the way. With all three classes starting together at 08.20 near the Harwich breakwater in a north-westerly 20 knot breeze, the fleet got away cleanly with Tony and Chuffy Merewether’s Sunfast 3200 ‘Amazon’ leading the fleet out of the harbour, until Richard Matthews in his Humphrey’s 54 ‘Oystercatcher XXVIII’ took over the lead after first gybing away from the fleet just after the start to find the deeper water offshore, while the rest of the fleet took the rhumb-line course to the first mark.

At Medusa the fleet qybed onto port on a fast reach, past the North East Gunfleet all the way to the Longsand Head buoy. Now with the right wind angle Tim Cross’ J92s ‘Upstart’ picked up her skirt and planed down the waves to catch Alan Bartlett’s Humphrey’s 36 ‘Inn Spirit’ and ‘Amazon’, who were still only a boat apart and by now ‘Oystercatcher’ was hull down to the rest of the fleet.

With another gybe at Longsand Head the fleet headed south to Kentish Knock with the wind now further aft and after a bad gybe ‘Upstart’ started to drop back from the leaders and further back Ray Althorp in his Sunfast 37 ‘Kahuna’ in his first EAORA race was still doing well and by now Russell Walker’s Baltic 37 ‘Cosmic Dancer’ was the back marker. With the tide now fair the fleet was speeding towards Ramsgate with ‘Oystercatcher’ topping out at 22 knots and ‘Amazon’ at 12 knots.

As ‘Oystercatcher’ approached Kentish Knock their A3 reacher blew out costing them considerable time while they took it down. Jason and Judy Payne James’ Dufour 45 ‘Heartbeat IV’ was also having problems with their spinnaker pole end fitting and then a big spinnaker wrap, eventually sending young Robbie Hooper up the mast twice to sort out their problems, before sheeting in hard to avoid going through the Thanet windfarm which was close to the rhumb-line course.

‘Amazon’ set her code zero which was ideal for these conditions, while ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Inn Spirit’ and ‘Upstart’ struggled to hold the course or sail in full control. ‘Amazon’s problems started at the East Brake buoy when the headsail jammed in the pre-feeder, half up and completely stuck, but with some slick crew work the No.3 was set instead just in time to round the buoy for the short 2 mile cross tide beat to the finish off the Ramsgate pierhead.

‘Oystercatcher’ finished in just over four hours with ‘Amazon’ one hour and three quarters later, which was just close enough for ‘Amazon’ to win the Walker Challenge Cup by just 9 seconds from ‘Oystercatcher’ and with ‘Upstart’ in third place.

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