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.
At last I have the link to Jason’s really great video, which he has now published on YouTube, of the Sun Fast 3200 Amazon surfing down Heartbeat IV’s (Dufour 45) wake in this year’s Sunk Race to Holland in about 25 to 30 knots.
The first sequence is as Heartbeat IV comes through us to leeward (they started 10 minutes behind us) but just after they got through they did the most amazing broach and we then surfed through and it took another 20 minutes for them to pass us and that’s when the second sequence was taken, with us glued to their transom.
We surfed down Heartbeat IV’s wake for about 20 to 30 minutes and it really helped us to our class win and third overall for the Sunk Race. We covered the 90 miles from West Mersea to Ostend in just over 10 hours, unfortunately Oystercatcher XXVIII did it in 6 hours, but she is a 54 footer! The first 6 minutes are the best with lots of great shots of the new boat.
Just returned from one of the best EAORA week’s ever in Holland with plenty of sunshine and a 30 knot race over in just over 10 hours from West Mersea to Ostend. The results were fantastic and the best so far in the new boat. Amazon won the week overall and were second to Cosmic Dancer in the Mary Hill Trophy for the short week. We also won class 2 in both events and the Graham Wallis Memorial Trophy for the race from Breskens to Ostend on the last day. The week was wide open and so was the class until the last race and as we had already taken our discard by going aground in the Veersemeer on the Thursday (ooops!) it was still mathematically possible for us to win and that we did finishing second on the water to Heartbeat IV after a long reach with our fantastic code zero up. A big thanks to all the crew who did fantastically well – Chuffy, me, Bungie, Hollywood Mick, Simon and Ollie. The trip back was uneventful as we motored all the way in about 7 knots of wind from the NE, that is until we ran out of fuel off the Buxey, so up went the code zero and the mainsail and we sailed up the river in a strengthening breeze right up to the fuel pontoon in the marina!
Another really windy race with 20 knots gusting later to 30 knots. With another strong forecast most of the fleet decided not to race. Again Amazon led the class all the way to the Whitaker and flew the code zero downwind reaching 14 knots. Same result as yesterday 2nd in class and third overall. Still lots to learn.
Our first race outside the river was a real test of crew and boat. The race started in about 20 knots and finished in 30 knots with big seas caused by wind over tide. The boat flew off the start on a fetch and then a beat and we led our class and then the fleet round North Eagle. We had a few problems on the first run loosing a spinnaker sheet but held good position, with a 6 mile beat in big seas before the final run up the Crouch were we reached a top speed of 14.5 knots. We were second in class to The Geek and third overall. Not bad for our first race