Tuesday, 24 June 2014 20:24

Castle & Islands Report & Results

Written by

The 2014 Castles and Islands Challenge reminded us that it really IS a challenge to complete the course in 24 hours.

Gone were the winds and good breezes of earlier years. This year it
was ghosting south in little zephyrs and out with the oars for those that brought them.

Only two boats completed the Challenge in 24 hours; Sheevra in Class
1 and Trillium in Class 2 - congratulations!

C Beagle had the fastest runners and Sheevra had the best corrected sailing time.

Line honours this year went to Trillium - who beat Sheevra home by 1 minute and 20 seconds!

Download the results here.

Thank you to all the competitors for taking part - we look forward to seeing you and other participants in 2015.

Peter Cossins
CYC Castles & Islands Committee.


Peter Coulthard's (January First) race report:

Unfortunately I can't report on the race post about 1AM Saturday morning. However, at that time the wind was coming along nicely then forecast to drop off.....

A crowded CYC Clubhouse was visited for the pre race briefing hosted by Pete Hammond on Friday evening. Desperate appeals were made for any volunteers to run as yacht Runaway's had pulled out. It seemed to be a year for runners going missing what with Jondalar II losing theirs days before the event. Very remiss of you Steve.....Don't lose the next ones please.

The runners onboard January First seemed to be taking it all in their stride (every pun intended!) arriving 2 minutes before the briefing started as they had stopped off at the Widdrington inn for steak and kidney pie with all the trimmings! Strange I thought before a race but they know best.....

As the chimes struck 7PM in Alnwick the runners set off into a warm evening with gentle breeze. Ideal for running but for sailing????

My runners complained about getting lost turning right instead of left at Buston Barns and getting a stitch 3 miles into the race. They blamed the seasick tablets for the stitch - I blame the steak and kidneys...... Getting lost - no excuses!

First runners arrived and shot off to their boat with a steady stream of runners arriving shortly thereafter. As the runners arrived for January First we were watching CBeagle executing a perfect high speed handbrake turn around B Hammerhead in the marina - RACE ON!

Runners on board sails up as we leave the harbour and away we go. January First 4th out of the marina chasing CBeagle, Sheevra and Trillium. Charisma (she'd been tied up at the quay wall making their runners go that little bit extra - as if they weren't running far enough!) and Émigré in hot pursuit behind us.

Sewer boy, engine off, Ipad out, course set let's go! Charisma tried an overtaking move to windward to get past January First - nice try ......

Around the Island, spinnakers up ad Northward bound.

It was amazingly warm with a steady wind as the fleet progressed North. January First and Émigré were having a good tussle with Émigré continually trying to get close enough to nip at our heels which only drove us on gradually overtaking CBeagle and gaining on Sheevra.

As we passed Boulmer Style we could just see Trillium disappearing over the horizon but his spinnaker was clearly hanging limp. a chance to catch up as ours stayed full or a sign of things to come?

Now as most sailors know, there's nothing quite like sailing along on a evening in good company but with the threatening sounds of breakers to your port side? This was the scenario at Boulmer. Slight nerves were kicking in on January First as we had no echo sounder working - I'm sure it'd be fine!

Ahead we see Sheevra's spinnaker collapsing, come on we've got them now! Yes, Emigre's has too and now CBeagle's. Ours stays full as we follow the wind away from the coast. is that a mistake for Sheevra as they stay well inshore in no wind?

Light starts to fail as night draws in and we watch everyone put the navigation lights on. Runners nicely tucked up in bed snoring happily, January First creeps ever onward as Mark continues to munch his way through all things food and "Ket" related.

The radio squawks to life as we near Newton and we try to decipher whether that is Trillium dropping runners off or collecting them. I'd previously decided to go into Newton first and then catch the tide going North but with the little wind we have I decide to head straight for Staple Sound with the tide now with us.

Finally I relinquish the helm for a while only for the new helm, Stuart graham, to comment on the wind instrument showing 180 degrees out. I look and see it doing strange things..... Craster Triangle strikes again. Hang on, the lights have gone out on the instrument too.

Yes, we have lost battery power. Mast head light looks like a rather poor imitation of a guttering candle. Both batteries showing 6 volts! Please let there be enough to start the engine and get some juice flowing. Nope - not even enough to turn the engine over.

I've got a perfect course to get through Staple, good wind and good boat speed. do I carry on? I still have navigation on the Ipad...... Runners have travelled up from Lancashire just for this do I want to waste their time? I could bear away and head for Seahouses, drop runners off and try to nab a friendly fisherman to give me a boost - hold on Seahouses and friendly fisherman???? Reluctantly I admit we need to turn back and sail for home whilst we still have wind. The thought of losing the wind in the morning and being stuck without engine is not a nice one. MArk threatens to get off if we have to call the lifeboat out. Nah we tried him pushing the boat last week and it didn't work. South and home it is.

We make good speed South shining torches on the sails when we are near other boats to alert them of our position. Please let the wind hold and go to the North as forecast. We could salvage some pride and sail home then sail into the marina!

We arrive at Warkworth mark too quickly and it's rock bottom of the tide. We anchor up in a horrible sloppy swell and Stuart starts breakfast with a range of bacon / bacon and egg / bacon egg and black pudding rolls. The runners awaken to ask is that Holy Island (seeing Coquet Island to our stern)? We announce the problems and they retire back to bed!

We can't sit here all morning we were going to sail in! Tide's rising let's try the approach to the harbour. We've got nothing else to do. Would you believe it? The wind's Westerly straight down the harbour and there's a continual stream of boats leaving the piers. I daren't make the run with out engine whilst having to dodge other boats..... We wait.

On the final attempt we have fenders out ready and we are going for it. We are just about to scrape past the North Pier (we wanted to be right up here then bear away up the river) along comes Richard Hop in the club Rigiflex to offer assistance. I'd not normally say Richard is a sight for sore eyes, or even pleasing to the eye; but my eyes were tired and sore and I'll say no more.

So, how do you tow a 35 foot yacht with a small boat and a 10Hp engine. Alongside and very slowly is the answer.

We make it into the berth and we go to reawaken the second runner - time to go home I'm afraid.

January First is put to bed, we can't recreate the battery issue no matter what we try and we trudge home thinking perhaps the boat was telling us she didn't want to be there. Sometimes you just have to listen to your vessel!

Temperature rises, wind drops (as we feared) and I later find out that only two boats made it back in the time limit - Trillium and Sheevra. Well done to them and it just goes to show it is not just a race but truly can be a challenge.

The results are in - photos from the prize giving.