|5 Oct 2021|
Report by Andrew Gossage (H, 1981) and Paul Koch (H, 1984)
Hope upon hope was held through the year as we planned the Cheltenham entry in the 2021 Arrow Trophy (AT). Andrew Gossage (H, 1981), Paul Koch (H, 1984) and Eoin Hughes (S, 2015), had Zoom calls with the AT Committee and Sunsail, and chased crew and funding from February onwards. By late August the crew was complete and ready to go. Only a last minute cancellation due to Covid or UK regulations could put an abrupt halt to plans at the last minute.
The crew doctor, Fred Scheerer (H, 2001) unfortunately didn’t make it to the start of the weekend (due to the airline strikes and cancelled flights). One man down from ten even before we have started! The rest of the crew braved the foul weather and arrived before midday on Friday 1 October at Port Solent to take over one of the new SunOdessey F41s. As in previous years, the aim was to practice and perfect all the sailing routines needed for the racing the following two days. By the time we left the dock, the wind had swept the rain away. With a reasonable breeze and even some sunshine we made good time to Cowes. In between the catching up on two years of not seeing each other and getting to know the new crewmember Harry Boyce, we did manage to get the basics of sailing this new yacht sorted and arrived in Cowes in time for Dutch amber fluid and crisps.
Happily moored up in Cowes Yacht Haven we went for supper at the Coast restaurant where we were delighted to be joined by Sebastian Bullock (Cheltonian Society Director) and his wife Katherine MacInnes. After dinner there was time for a few drinks in the pub next door, and more good ideas, including the OC Sailing AGM. A short meeting as time was running out. We had to go to the Royal London Dark & Stormy hour … This last activity is the best preparation for the racing ahead. All in good time the crew retired to their bunk on the boat or a bed in the Airbnb shared with Charterhouse on Castle Road.
David Miller (L, 2005) once again took the helm for Saturday’s racing. Andrew Gossage (H, 1981) joined him on the back of the boat in his role as navigator/tactician. We had hoped to get Sebastian on board for at least the trip out to the start but the weather and return lift and his programme precluded that, sadly. Perhaps he can come next year?
Andrew Kenyon (BH, 1979) took charge of the main sheet and Paul Koch (H, 1984) of the pit, the centre of halliard action, while Eoin Hughes (S, 2015) bravely assumed the job of bow. Henry Garthwaite (BH, 1986), Alastair McRobert (NH, 2009), Will Jury-Simpson (BH, 2017) and Harry Boyce filled in the remaining positions on the boat.
Unlike previous years, the 26 crew where split in two fleets because no one charterer could provide enough boats. Our ‘A’ fleet raced with the new Sunsail boats. Dark & Stormy is the best way to describe the weather forecast, especially in the afternoon. The plan was to sail as many windward/leeward courses as possible then run for cover in Cowes before the storm hit the fleet. We managed two races, both exciting but this time without any close shaves with any other boat (which makes a change!). The AT Committee had issued draconian warnings about causing damage. The insurers weren’t going to put up with the risk and the charterers were under threat of not being able to charter the boats to the Arrow Trophy. Apparently, this regatta has something of a hard core reputation for causing damage! We lay in third position after Saturday’s racing; very pleasing but at a risk of having to go Match-racing on Sunday.
A four-course dinner was served in the Cowes Yacht Haven Event Centre spiced with live entertainment. By the time the evening drew to a close, over 240 hungry sailors, most of which former pupils of independent schools, had been fed and watered and well connected.
Sunday’s forecast was not much better. Once again the briefing declared two reefs and no spinnakers. The aim: one race ‘round the cans’, ie. a long race to various racing marks around the eastern Solent. David Miller had a prior appointment abroad so Paul Koch crawled out of the pit to take the helm for Sunday. After a very good start we battled against the elements and the other crews. As the weather deteriorated during the race the course was shortened so we sailed on into Portsmouth, finishing 10 in the race and 6th overall; a very pleasing result.
As ever, grateful thanks to the Cheltonian Society for the grant that enables costs for the individual to be kept to a reasonable value for an excellent weekend’s racing. Thanks to the OC Yacht Club Committee for all their hard work in organising the crew, and thanks to the crew for alumni comradeship in the fashion of Corinthian sportsmanship. We look forward to next year!
All members of the Cheltonian Society, of all levels of experience, are eligible to join the Sailing Club. The Arrow Trophy rules stipulate that crews must be made up of 'former pupils' with the option of having up to three 'ringers' (not former pupils) on the crew. If you would like to take part please contact the Cheltonian Society initially for the latest contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
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