The BKA take on the RORC Morgan Cup

The BKA take on the RORC Morgan Cup

Monday May 7 2012 Author: British Keelboat Academy Location: United Kingdom

This weekend the British Keelboat Academy crew of ‘Yeoman of Wight’ competed in the RORC Morgan Cup, a 130 nm offshore race.

As a trial event for the RYA Team GBR Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup, the race was of significant importance to the team, reflecting the outcome of the past few months’ training and preparation for the selection events.

Chris Robson, trimmer.

Competing in IRC Class 3, we had 12 boats in our fleet, many of whom we had previously raced against in the Easter Regatta and the Warsash Spring Series. With a rough idea of where we should be aiming to finish within the fleet, we hit the water the day before the event. With an early start in the yard, it was a case of ensuring we had all the appropriate safety kit onboard, ready for inspection by the RORC officials. By lunchtime we were considered good to go, and so we took to the water to practice drills for recovering a man-over-board, sail changes and watch systems, and also the use of the emergency tiller. With a 6.30am start the next day, a big dinner and an early night was in store for everybody!


Lizzy Foreman, sorting kit into our new bags supplied by Overboard

Come Saturday morning, the cold, north-easterly wind was still with us, although pleasantly stronger than the day before. Averaging a good 17 knots downwind we had an exciting start to the race, with the tide beginning to run west over the Royal Yacht Squadron start line. Our first mark was at Anvil Point, where we really enjoyed sailing out further into the channel; as the swell built, the boat began to take off down the waves, a thrill our helm Stevie Beckett, and trimmer Jonty Cook particularly enjoyed, having not before raced offshore. From here we went on to the DZB buoy and then a ‘waypoint’, identifying the point we had to round. It was quite strange calling for room to round at a virtual mark, with a few exciting gybes involved as we went round with ‘Solan Goose’, an A35.

Surfing downwind

Making way between Waypoint 1 and Waypoint 2, we found ourselves having to put into practice what we had learnt the day before with the emergency tiller, as the steering cables snapped! This left Alex, who had just come on watch, with no steerage, and the boat doing a few wild circles in close proximity to nearby yachts. Alex and Coach, Luke McCarthy, squished themselves into the bottom of the boat to sort the problem. Although lying upside down, with the smell of grease and the motion of the boat leaving them feeling a bit giddy, they fortunately held on to their sea legs, and we managed to somehow stay in the pack, slipping behind Malice despite our downwind gains. With the steering failing for a second time, we half expected a man over board to be the next test of the day! Thankfully, after some quick thinking, we were fine for the 30 mile beat up to Owers buoy; made more pleasant by a cup of hot soup. As it got dark we couldn’t see a lot of boats around us, so instead enjoyed the motions of the boat and the gusts that were coming through. Once Owers finally came in to sight, we found ourselves rounding once more with Malice, and a few other yachts behind.

Yet again it was quite an exciting rounding, with poor Jonty, who had been looking a little green up the beat, facing the bouncing of the bow to help with a tack-change to a larger jib for the final leg to the finish.

Luke McCarthy

During the final leg tiredness did start to creep in, but thanks to making use of a good watch system, some cosy clothes kept dry in our new drybags, kindly supplied by Overboard, and hot drinks, we always had relativity fresh people to switch in with helming and trim. Consequently, despite our loss of steerage for a major part of the 1st 3rd of the race, we finished the race 4th in class, and 3rd out of those trailing for the Commodore’s Cup. We were pleased with the results, considering that for some of the crew this was their first offshore race, and not a particularly warm or easy one at that!

Alex Gardner & Leo Schofield catching up on sleep 

Fingers crossed a small boat will be considered for the Commodore’s Cup Team, and we will perform to our best at the next and final selection event in two weeks time; the Vice Admiral’s Cup, a 3-day, inshore regatta which will be based in the Solent.

David Aisher; flying the British flag!

Report by Lizzy Foreman

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