Team racing at the Royal Solent Yacht Club

A Team of RAYC members travelled to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight to take part in team racing in X One Designs, arranged by Dominic Breen-Turner. Here Mike Hardie describes the fun that was had over the weekend:

I guess like many One Design classes, the Conwy Fifes have a ‘premier’ series or trophy, in our case it’s the ‘A’ series, which runs throughout our season and normally comprises of 20+ races. Always hotly contested and very difficult to win, it requires consistency across all conditions of tide and weather.

So, it takes something very special to persuade contenders to leave the comforting embrace of Cymru for the Badlands of Southern England! The invitation from Anne Kyle to Team Race in XOD’S at the Royal Solent Yacht Club was too good to decline.

You sort of know that it’s going to be a good weekend, when team members who have separately travelled from North Wales, Manchester, Leicestershire and Milford on Sea all arrive, by chance rather than design, within minutes of each other at the ferry terminal in Yarmouth to begin the weekend.

Unbeknown to us the opposition had ‘a cunning plan’ Part 1 of which was executed with some panache, when on Friday evening we were invited for ‘drinks and nibbles’ at the Rear Commodore Tom Symes and Beth Noakes’ house. With exceptional generosity, they plied us with drink and outlined the plans for the weekend, boats were drawn, and rules of engagement outlined.

Team Cymru then left to seek solid food, or sadly in some case more alcohol, before making the first of many hikes back to our accommodation.

Assembling on Saturday morning at team HQ, Alistair Dickson our Leader not only cooked breakfast but decided upon pairings for the team. Neil & Hugo, Mike & Pippa and Alistair & Stevie, with Tak as advisor/coach and Val as emotional support!

Sadly, team racing was cancelled for Saturday due to rather sporty conditions, but Part 2 of the RSYC plan was put into place and we were invited to sail in the Saturday afternoon race. Stevie, Alistair and Hugo declined this invitation (wisely as it turned out) and went sightseeing in Cowes instead. Leaving Neil, Pippa, Tak and myself to enjoy the pleasures of yachting at Yarmouth. Those who sailed came ashore, bruised, blistered and broken, having had a great sail in a super competitive fleet.

The XOD is similar in size to our own MSOD’s, if a little more complicated! The class, although designed in 1911 have embraced change so revolutionary things (to us) like tiller extensions, centre mainsheet, windows and kicking straps are allowed. Most seem to have a ‘dashboard’ on the forward, inboard side of the combing, on which is a mass of rope (pull the red one, no, the other red one!!) and cleats (there were 9 on the boat I sailed on, by contrast I have 5 and 3 of those are for the Spinnaker!).

Having had some calming tea and cake, or a beer or two, Team Cymru staggered to our accommodation to shower and change, ready for the socialising to come.

Once again with amazing generosity out hosts provide us with food and drink in abundance at the amazing waterside home of RSYC members Mary and Mark Hall (Part 3 of the Plan?) but that doesn’t come even close to describing a very special evening, shared with kind and interesting people.

The sensible amongst us decided to take the offered lift home for an early night, 2 of our number, charmed by the owner, decided to take a rib ride back to Yarmouth, where they declined an invitation from the rest of the team for a nightcap as they now had ‘big hair’. The revelers arrived home in the small hours of the morning, having enjoyed the questionable pleasures of Salty’s in Yarmouth.

Breakfast the next day was a subdued affair.

Having been taken out to our boats for the racing, we rigged and set off for the racing area, wisely, well away from any other racing activity.

Race 1 was, from a visitor’s perspective, a little confusing, as we not only had to come to grips with a unfamiliar boat but work out what visual signaling method the committee boat was using, especially important as their horn had decided to die. We did eventually spot the ‘yellow fingers’ used to count us down (who remember 3.2.1 ?), but consequently didn’t get the best of starts, and despite Alistair’s best efforts to slow the opposition, we lost that race.

Race 2 saw the ‘red mist’ descend as the RAYC woke up and took the fight to RSYC, it was nip and tuck all the way round, with Neil, in a masterly fashion luff a RSYC boat above the distance mark at the finish, thus allowing 2 RAYC boats to pick up several places. Game on !!

In race 3 we discovered that the RSYC had a plan for starting, such that they didn’t impede each other, RAYC all started in the same place and paid the price, we did our best but couldn’t recover from the start.

Race 4 saw another battle royal, but once again RSYC prevailed to deservedly take the title, it was however no walk over, and we look forward to the return match, when we might have a plan !!

Coming ashore and following the prizegiving and speeches, we sat down to a magnificent Sunday lunch in the palatial upstairs restaurant, once again generously supplied by our hosts.

As we sat around in the sun drinking our tea at team HQ, we were all in a state of shock, I think. We had just had the most amazing weekend, enjoying incredibly generous hospitality, great, well organised sailing and the very best of company. Sometimes words are not enough to describe an experience, this was certainly such an occasion.

We look forward to returning the hospitality and winning the trophy next time !