St Malo Race, Rally and Cruise

Sunshine, spinnakers up, sun cream on, dolphins, good food and drink,  great company & stunning scenery (and a coat only needed at night)!  That is what the St Malo race and rally gave a group of Royal Western sailors last month.

The whole idea came into fruition around Christmas when club member, Ben Dodwell, owner of the Bavaria 30 – Lolita, mentioned that he really wanted to race/rally to France in the summer and he wasn’t keen on going across on his own. Realising that we no longer did any races across to France, plans were made with club member Andy Sinclair, whose parents are St Malo locals, and it was decided that this was the best place to go! It also fitted in well with Ju Kyu, Peter Rowe’s J109, prep for the Fastnet, as the food is a bit better in St Malo than Wolf Rock!

The fleet of 7 set off throughout Thursday 15th June,  with our esteemed Commodore, Charlie Thomson & his wife Babs, taking advantage of his recent retirement and setting off before lunch to get the best of the breeze for the crossing in his boat Prima! The other 6 boats started between 18:30 and 19:00, Adam Littlejohn & Andy Sinclair on the Sun Odyssey 36.7 – Flying Colours being the last to leave the dock due to having to hoist their beloved pasty flag before they could set sail! Kites went up at the Mewstone in a cracking 18 knots,  the sea was rolling and it was full steam south, with speeds creeping into double digits on nice waves.

The stars came out for a clear and warm night of champagne sailing, one or two crews mentioned being chased down by a fishing fleet and a few near misses with lobster pots! Throughout the evening and into the night boats checked in with each other through hourly conversations. Ben on Lolita kept us well informed of his other 1.5 crew’s antics (Ben was sailing with his son Harry age 9). Daylight gave us wall to wall sunshine and a dolphin audience at breakfast!

The wind slowly started fading but was still blowing happily at 09:00 when boats were taking their position after 14 hours of sailing. In a true Corinthian effort we had made the decision to score the race on the whole course and after sailing for 14 hours, giving boats the option to motor the latter part of the course, if the wind faded or they weren’t sure they would make their dinner reservation!

As the sun came up and visibility increased Andrew Sinclair climbed the spreaders on Flying Colours to set eyes on the competition! He saw Ben on Lolita to windward just about to start motoring after the 14 hour mark, having sailed the night under white sails only due to lack of spinnaker halyards. Also the blue and white kite of Carol Hammond and the crew of Kotuku (First 31.7) further to West.

The breeze continued fading but the crew onboard Flying Colours enjoyed a spot of fishing (catching 2 mackerel) and bit of sunning and snoozing through the day. Finally as the breeze faded more and the cool beers ashore started to call, Carol Hammond made the call to switch on engines 5 miles from the marina – to make sure everyone got in before low water (wise decision – some only made it across the sill into the marina with 0.01 depth to spare!)

Ashore we found out how CJ Smith and his team on Second Wind had finished ahead of Pete Rowe on Ju Kyu who had enjoyed a blown up tackline block in the night. Charlie Thomson had a fun filled sail across and recorded top speeds of over 15 knots (next stop for him, the America’s Cup!)

Plenty of fun was had ashore with a great dinner and prize giving in the Ponton restaurant located in the marina,  with a prize found for every boat for a multitude of reasons!

Saturday morning saw the arrival of an extra 3 sailors to crew the trip back who couldn’t race over due to GCSE’s and school. Great fun was had by the Youth Academy with 10 members participating in the race and they enjoyed a trip around the town to find crepes and ice creams before setting off home!

We plan to run this race again next year so keep your eyes peeled for a date! 

A big thank you goes out to our sponsors Ancasta Yacht Brokers Plymouth who gave many great prizes.

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