2017 Medway Regatta Reports

E - 17 (97)Medway Yacht Club held the annual Medway Regatta over four days Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 July with racing in three cruiser divisions and one design racing for Dragon, Sonatas and Squibs, the following reports were written by the various participating classes:

Photos courtesy of Champion Marine Photography

David Boakes, Cruiser Class Captain

The 2017 Medway Yacht Club Regatta began as always with a practice race on Thursday evening. MYC cruiser racers usually compete in a thriving Wednesday night race series during the summer months so are used to the 19.00 starts and sunset finishes. Light airs turned this evening race into a drifting competition which was eventually won by the Folkboat ‘Scout’ owned by Andy Eakins.

On Friday morning the breeze filled in to a useful F4-5 North Westerly, allowing 2 races to be completed. The first race went out into the Thames Estuary, with some upwind/downwind circuits past the famous wreck of the ‘Richard Montgomery’ and a committee boat finish at the entrance to Stangate Creek.

IMG_2196Race 2 on Friday afternoon was an in river course with some loops from ‘Blackstakes’ the yellow special mark dropped in to keep sailors away from the LPG terminal and green navigation mark number 13 in the corner of Saltpan Reach. The rising tide took the race fleet home upwind, wind over tide, soaking the crews of the smaller sports boats to another committee finish in Gillingham Reach.

The Friday evening entertainment and fine dining at MYC completely sold out with additional tables erected in the marquee to cope with the crowds. As usual the catering was excellent, the staff friendly and company interesting.

Saturday’s racing saw a shift in the wind to the prevailing South Westerly’s and were of similar strength to Friday’s breeze. The plan for Saturday was always to have a longer race well out into the estuary and add some windward leeward marks with a few miles between them to allow the larger boats to stretch their legs. The race was shortened to allow the whole fleet to get a finish at red buoy number 14, the quicker boats finishing around 15.00 and the smaller craft creeping inside of the 17.00 time limit.

Also on Saturday was a treasure hunt for non racers. An interesting selection of clues kept the non racers busy during the day, hunting around the river for the location of the treasure. The prize a stunning piece of silverware, was won by Wendy Howland sailing her Dragon ‘Whistle’.

Saturday evening was the Regatta Party with a ‘Wrap and Taco’ food bar and the most excellent live band ‘Black Star’. The cruisers led the way to the dance floor and guest vocalist Jenny Best gave the bands singer a rest for a few songs. A great evening that did take its toll on a few racers on Sunday morning!

Sunday’s race was an in river shorter course in similar breezes out to ‘Blackstakes’ with a few circuits of Saltpan Reach and beat back home in time for a late lunch and prize giving.

Find the full results here and if you’d like to know more about the on the water action see the report below from the MYC Cruiser Race Officers.

E - 17 (173)Aaron Goodman-Smith Cruiser Class, Race Representative

The Medway Yacht Club Regatta was held 14th-16th July 2017 and was sponsored by Pirates Cave, Sparshatts of Kent, Savills, Clarke & Carter and Peelports Group.

On the Friday, Race Officer Richard Stone was faced with a flooding tide and a North Westerly breeze slowly increasing from 12 to 18 Knots.  With a start area for all classes close to bouy 15, two consecutive races were set for the cruiser classes.

Race 1 for Classes 1, 2, 3 allowed for an up river, windward leg to an inflatable mark, before taking the boats out of the river for a triangular combination of marks, which gave a mixture of runs and upwind legs, before heading back into River Medway for a finish off Z2 Bouy.

Class 1 saw the first of many on-the-water battles between Full Tilt (Arcona 400), Reefer x (X99) and Hellaby (Davidson ¼ tonner); both the first two boats being nailed by the smaller ¼ tonner!  The rest of the fleet from Goodbye Mr Chips (Impala), the Delher 34’s of Valkarie and Zephoros, through to Andrew Baker’s new acquisition Xray (First 31.7) all showing a clear turn of speed at various times.

Class 2 were also sent out into the Thames Estuary, with Tender Touch (Hunter 27) sporting a very nice new genoa, helping them to a 1st on the water.  The chasing pack of Ynot (Modified Splinter 21) & Festina Lente (Limbo) both sailed well to record good NHC handicap finishes.

For the second Race, Richard Stone set in-river courses with multiple marks leading to a finish by bouy 29.  When I say multiple,  I mean multiple with 17 marks including the finish for Class 1!  On the water, the same battles repeated themselves throughout the fleet, with Reefer x (X99) this time leading the fleet home, their smiles being removed very quickly when they realised they had rounded the fourth from last buoy the wrong way!  It could have been a small moral victory if it was not for that, as Hellaby secured their second handicap bullet of the series, with Goodbye Mr Chips and Valkarie among the top placings.

Saturday delivered a similar wind strength building throughout the day, but this time from SSW, allowing the Race Officer to send the fleets out into the Thames Estuary for a long race.  This again provided the fleet with decent upwind legs, all-be-it this time on larger formation of bouys.

IMG_2305In Class 1, Full Tilt, Hellaby, Reefer x and The Works (Projection 762) led the fleet out of the river down to 10A, before beating back up to Nore Swatch.  Once on the wind, the Arcona 400 simply extended their lead on every leg, leaving Hellaby and Reefer x to almost be swallowed up by the rest of the fleet, as the wind dropped slightly for the leg down to Sea Reach South 2.  The cross tide and 185 highway wind from behind making the leg difficult to sail.  Once round Sea Reach South 2, Reefer x was able to pull some distance away from the others to reclaim some sort of glory, knowing full well that Hellaby and others will swallow up their 2nd place on the water with strong handicap finishes.

Class 2 also proved a battle ground between all boats, with Tender Touch securing a well-deserved bullet as well, followed by Festina Lente and Cirrus (Hunter Medina).

The final day (Sunday) saw a westerly of slightly lighter winds, allowing the race officer to set a decent in river course from bouy 15.  Once again, throughout all classes, familiar battles were reignited with in Class 1 Hellaby scoring their fourth bullet of the series, such was their domination on handicap.  The Hellaby team sailed a very consistent series across all four races.

With classes 1 & 2 being populated with regular racing crew, some special mention needs to be made for the five boats in Class 3 (No Spinnaker); namely Caroline (Carter 30), Ariel (Parker 27), Fals Cappa (Nicholson 32), Pintail (Victoria 34) and White Spirit (Sun Dream 28).  These regular non-racer boats had a close series over the three days and MYC would like to see more non-racers join the fleet for 2018.

Finally – the MYC Regatta would be very much the poorer, if it were not for the stalwart support of boats like Festina Lente from Greenwich Yacht Club.  For owners Rob Wood & Mike Kellaway this is their seventh continuous regatta entry and this year their most successful.

Medway Yacht Club will now sit down to review the pro’s and con’s of the 2017 Regatta and hope to lay on an even more successful 2018 Regatta next year.  We would welcome entries from Ramsgate to the Blackwater!  Come and Play next year . . .you will have fun .

IMG_2260David Harris – Dragon Class Captain

What a weekend of fun on the water ….. Sun, Sea and Yacht Racing.

Seven formidable International Dragon Yachts fought it out over three days of fantastic sailing conditions and challenging courses; Molly, COY, FLOS, Fit Chick, Gandalf, Suti and OCD.

Ideal conditions on Friday morning, took the Dragon Fleet down to the mouth of the River Medway and out into the Thames Estuary. Wind strength was more than enough, but not so much as to over-press the boats and crews. (Dragons do not have reefing capabilities).

We waved greetings to the Sunbathers on Clacton Beach, but they were either too distant or indifferent to notice. The course took us out past the wreck of the WW2 Liberty Ship – ‘The Richard Montgomery’ – this is still loaded with a cargo of bombs, which have not yet exploded, despite the endless cautionary warnings.

We then changed direction and went for a long leg of close hauled sailing up the Thames – we had two choices; inshore towards the Wind, or out into the main Channel. The latter paid off handsomely with the incoming tide giving a helping push to the finish line. Line honours went to first Gandalf, second Fit chick by a nose in front of OCD.

We then returned to the River Medway with a second race starting after a delay, from the mouth of Stangate Creek. It was during this lull that the skippers of OCD and COY thought there was time to go sight-seeing down into the creek – very interesting for the Commodore to point out where he used to camp when a young Scout.  This jaunt put the boats out of contention when the second race started without both of them being on the line and ready to go.

The race up-river, back to the Medway Yacht Club, was fought out between the remaining four Dragons. Line honours went to Edwin Hannant on ‘Gandalf in first place’, then second place to ‘Fit Chick’ helmed by Jono Ratnage, then third place to ‘Suti’, helmed by Trevor Cox. ‘FLOS helmed by Steve Rushbrook came forth’

Saturday saw the Fleet competing in four Windward/ Leeward Races. On the Dragons, we enjoyed the challenge of close One Class Design Racing – the skippers and crews were tested over a relatively short triangular course. OCD had two potentially advantageous starts, but were pipped at the line by Fit Chick who were sailing like demons – Well done to Jono, Chris and Simon on Fit Chick, for a brilliant demonstration of racing and handling skills by winning all four races.

Sunday morning saw us lose FLOS from the starting line – was it conflicts with other priorities, or excessive socializing and too many libations from the party on the Saturday night?

This race to us down river to the ‘Black Stakes’ Buoy – opposite our start line was the The Container Port and LPG Gas Terminal located on the North Shore. These are quite fascinating to look at. What are the ‘booms’ we kept hearing, surely not the crane operators dropping the odd container to relieve their boredom?

The wind was coming from the West straight down the River and we competed in a race over four legs up and down wind. Tide was ebbing at the start and then turned for the last half of the race. We had choices, go to the North or to the South shore and then tack as the wind oscillated. When to tack was the key question, and how to keep out of the shallows with maximum push from the tide, or to keep out of the tide on the down wind legs.

The gusts and wind shifts kept coming as the clouds scudded right to left to across the River. Fit Chick managed to get ahead and other positions kept changing during the course of a tightly contended race.First place in this race went to Fit Chick, and after a very close tussle right up to the line between OCD and Gandalf, with Gandalf in second place and finally in third place OCD.

Over all placings of the Dragons for the three day Regatta had Fit Chick in first place, OCD in second place, and Gandalf in third place. Prizes and applause went to all contenders at the Sunday afternoon Prize Giving.

Praises must go to the whole Regatta Team led by Richard Stone and Catherine Gore, for organising a super event and managing to get ideal weather conditions as well. Alex Booth also needs a special mention for sorting out the results across a myriad of different Classes and for getting the results posted in time for Sunday afternoon prize giving, Also our thanks go to Stuart and Jasper Wright for generously providing their Yacht ‘Moonshine’ to act as Committee Boat, and to Bruce Boyd and Peter Booth for providing us with Safety Boat cover.

I also wish to mention the Bar and Galley Staff for laying on a great range of food and drinks from early in the morning until late at night. It takes great patience to keep cool and smiling when a horde of tired sailors are queuing at the bar and wanting to quench their thirst.

I have mentioned the sight seeing expedition of OCD and COY, but other events happened – Fit Chick had an amorous dalliance with the Rib of an over enthusiastic photographer. This occurred during a Windward / Leeward race, when the driver attempted to hitch a ride on their gunwale! Fortunately no one was hurt and we hope dear Mike Spurgin took some good pictures, really close up!

My musings this week concern the Grain Edge Fort at the entrance to the Medway. This consists of a small circular stone tower with a couple of modest metal boxes that have been appended during past conflicts. The Fort has been recently sold, and questions come to mind about why anyone would want to invest hard cash into this edifice – which someone did quite recently (£100K).

Two reasons come to mind – visitors can only approach at low tide, with great care and in Wellington Boots. Second, the garden is self-watering twice a day as the tide comes in! I wonder what the new owners plan for this modest monument?

May the weather and life be kind to you all on and off the water.

IMG_0049Zoe Hill – Sonata Class Captain

The weather looked set to give the Medway Regatta 3 excellent days of sailing, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 7 Sonatas were entered, with work commitments hampering a few on the Friday but everyone got out to race at the weekend. Friday saw a cautious start from some boats, wanting to suss out the competition at this early stage. White Noise took an early lead before rounding the windward mark the wrong way. By the time they had unwound themselves and rounded the mark correctly they had dropped behind Red Dwarf II and Cry Havoc. With spinnakers up and heading out towards the Thames, White Noise chased down Cry Havoc and had their sights set on Red Dwarf II. As the wind picked up, White Noise decided to drop their Spinnaker and this early decision saw them on the tail of Red Dwarf II. Cry Havoc kept the pace up to hold off Quiet Air who were out for their first racing with the fleet since last year’s regatta. Once into the Estuary, a game of spot the correct buoy began, and Red Dwarf II decided it was time to launch the Spinnaker, unfortunately the halyard decided to let go.  Luckily, this was recoverable, however the time lost was enough for the lead to be handed back to White Noise.  Heading past the Montgomery Wreck, White Noise decided to tack leaving Red Dwarf II in clear air and allowing them to power through to take the victory when the race course was shortened at Nore Swatch. Cry Havoc took a commendable 3rd place, especially as in their own words; “for a boat sailed almost entirely by pensioners.

The second race of the day saw the wind speed increase with all the Sonatas choosing to change down to their number 2 sails. The start saw another early lead by White Noise, who went the right way round the windward mark this time and began keeping a closer eye on Red Dwarf II. This set the tone for the rest of the Regatta, and both White Noise and Red Dwarf II got in a lot of match racing practise. One break in tacks proved to be the decider on the way to Autumn, with White Noise opting to tack early with Red Dwarf II holding on, and by the time the boats crossed again Red Dwarf II had pulled out a decisive lead to take the win.  Cry Havoc again pulled out a lead on Quiet Air and comfortably took another 3rd place.

Saturday brought the Windward Leeward racing and 4 races to contend with.  On the first race, Red Dwarf II crossed the line first; however, White Noise tacked early which gave them the lead at the first mark.  Another navigational error handed the lead to Red Dwarf II, when White Noise missed going back through the start/finish line on the upwind leg.  Cry Havoc were put under more pressure today with Miss Fortune, Ram and Blue Tack taking to the water, but they held the competition off to continue their good form in 3rd. The second race of the day saw a change of helm for the starts for White Noise, which paid off, with them winning the battle on the line over Red Dwarf II. Red Dwarf II only needed one more win to make a comeback for the overall regatta difficult for White Noise and this seemed to focus White Noise and they sailed the rest of the day excellently giving Red Dwarf II no further opportunities to pounce and take another win. Miss Fortune, who were inducting a new crew member into Sonata sailing, managed to gain a 3rd place finish for the second race, followed by Blue Tack, Cry Havoc, Quiet Air then Ram. The third race saw the now familiar events of White Noise taking a narrow lead over Red Dwarf II, with Blue Tack sailing well over the first leg to remind Red Dwarf II that they couldn’t forget the rest of the fleet too easily. Cry Havoc again proved that age is just a number and that you can sail well with limited crew numbers to pick up another 3rd place, with Miss Fortune struggling out on the start line meaning they couldn’t recover the distance lost and finished 5th. The final race of the day saw a combined start for the Dragon class and Sonatas. This caught out Ram who didn’t make the final start of the day. Red Dwarf II decided to change tactics on the start to not get caught up with other boats on the line and White Noise followed again getting the better start of the two boats. Blue Tack, unfortunately, found themselves caught between two Dragons and was over the line at the start which they failed to notice as they were focussed on not making contact with any other racing boats as they were forced to sail high as Dragons can outpoint a Sonata. As they tacked away, they found themselves still trying to find clear air away from any Dragons and were informed on the leeward leg they had been over the line. Miss Fortune managed to put the previous races adventure behind them to finish the day with another 3rd position, with Quiet Air picking up their best positon of the day in 5th. The success of White Noise in the last three races meant that the Sonata Overall win was going down to the final day, with White Noise leading Red Dwarf II, both with 3 wins and 3 second place finishes to their name.

Sunday dawned and the tension was building to see how the last race would pan out and who would be the Sonata winner.  The course was set and White Noise only had eyes on Red Dwarf II and were determined that they would not let the red boat sneak past on an opposite tack. Miss Fortunes luck ran out at the start with issues with their Mainsail halyard. This meant they had to drop their main not long after the start and by the time they were back up and running the fleet had sailed away from them. However, this allowed them chance to enjoy the spectacular sight of the entire regatta fleet all sailing a similar course. Blue Tack enjoyed having some extra Sonata sailing experience on board and had a good start due to White Noise and Red Dwarf II being involved in their own match racing tactics. However, unfortunately as the race unfolded they couldn’t match Cry Havoc for speed (possibly a scrub of the bottom of the boat may have helped). White Noise consistently kept Red Dwarf II sailing in dirty air, until one small break in tacks heading from Z2 to buoy 13 meant Red Dwarf II had the power to keep ahead when White Noise tacked on to them. The race for the win wasn’t over as White Noise pressured Red Dwarf II on the downwind leg and managed to gain an advantage heading back to Z2. At this point the cruiser classes were heading on the same course as the Sonata fleet and everyone was interested in the outcome of the race between White Noise and Red Dwarf II. Rounding Z2 to head back upwind Red Dwarf II suffered their second halyard malfunction of the weekend with their Genoa halyard getting stuck and eventually undoing and heading to the top of the mast. Some quick thinking meant that the spinnaker was dropped and the spinnaker halyard was used to launch the Genoa and very little distance was lost to White Noise. The realisation that there was still another downwind to upwind leg to go meant Red Dwarf II had to run bare headed a further two times to swap the halyard but again some quick decision making meant that no time was lost and they maintained a three boat length deficit to White Noise. With the end of the race getting nearer and a long beat home Red Dwarf II tried everything to get out of the dirty air from White Noise meaning that both boats sailed a long way round the river, with White Noise overcoming every challenge Red Dwarf II threw their way. Fortunes changes upon reaching Kingsnorth Jetty, when White Noises strategy of covering Red Dwarf II finally failed, as they found they had sailed themselves aground, whilst Red Dwarf II had just missed the shallow section at the end of the Jetty. This give Red Dwarf II a narrow lead heading to MYC1, which then built as the boats pushed hard to the finish. White Noise took the opportunity to try and do something different to Red Dwarf II to pull back some of the distance lost, but with the tide with them and Red Dwarf II showing their upwind speed now they were in clear air, the chance of the win slipped away from White Noise.  Red Dwarf II crossed the line to win the Cinder Plate for the third year running, the first Sonata to achieve victory three years in a row, with White Noise second and Cry Havoc finishing the regatta strongly in third. The final race was an epic battle, which everyone will remember for a long time.  Thanks must go to the race officers and committee boats/safety cover for providing us with three excellent and memorable days of racing – we are already looking forwards to next year!

IMG_2369Mark Rowntree – Squib Representative

3 Squibs took part in the Keelboat Regatta two weekends ago, and enjoyed good winds (mostly force 3- 4) and some sunshine. Certainly I felt quite sunburnt after the 3 days. The wind started from the NW on Monday and gradually backed to the SW and so the committee boat was anchored near buoy 15 on all 3 days. The Race Officer (Richard Stone) was very efficient and got all the races away on time. Long courses were set and were delivered by post (a rib) to each of the Squibs (the other classes had to take them down from the VHF.

On Friday Monkey Business and Black Mark were at the start on time. Black Mark would not give water at the start to Monkey Business who therefore started rather late, but not as late as Mini Happy Dayz (with Roger and Benita). We had a fairly short beat to an orange mark and then a long run down to Black Stakes (Black Mark was very unsure of the position of this at first, but we soon came to know it well) Then a beat back to 13 before meeting Black Stakes again. Then another long beat eventually back to buoy 29 where there was meant to be a committee boat to finish us It arrived after we had passed the buoy. The Squibs finished in their starting order , although Mini Happy Dayz retired.

On Saturday Mini Happy Dayz had a different crew (Paul and Benita)and all 3 Squibs were well on time to start except that Monkey Business and Mini Happy Dayz thought that the starting gun was the one minute gun. Again we went upriver to an orange buoy and then down to Black Stakes. This time there were more loops in the course which took over three and a half hours. We finished at 29 (with a committee boat ) Black Mark first, Mini Happy Dayz second and Monkey Business third.

On Sunday Mini Happy Dayz decided that the weather was such that more crew were required (Roger, Benita and Paul). The start was much closer and Black Mark only just escaped being pushed onto the committee boat. The first beat up to an orange mark near buoy 19 was against the tide, then a run down to 16, then 19,15,MYA1 and 29. This produced a very close match between Monkey Business and Mini Happy Dayz, wither almost touching spinnakers before 15.Again Black Mark was first with Mini Happy  Dayz and Monkey Business being second and third.

Thus the weekend finished with Black Mark winning and Monkey Business and Mini Happy Dayz equal second. Best wishes,

Full Regatta Results

Thanks to all our sponsors:

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