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Plas Menai 2015

22nd Waller Harris Triangle Race at Royal Channel Islands YC

by Bill Harris on 14 Jul
Start of Leg 3 in the 22nd Waller Harris Triangle Race © Bill Harris

Twenty-two boats came to the line in St Aubin's Bay on Saturday 8th July for the 22nd edition of the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club's Waller-Harris Two-handed Triangle Race. The format of this most popular of events has remained unchanged since its introduction in 1995 by its sponsors, past Commodores Rodney Waller and Bill Harris. This series of race, unique in the Island's racing calendar, lasts three days during which the fleet races over three legs that include visits to two French ports before returning to Jersey on the final day.

Fine conditions greeted the fleet when it came to the line in St Aubin's Bay for the scheduled nine-o'clock start. However, with a drift of forty miles in prospect the race officer opted to move the start line well south to the Southwest Minquiers buoy some fifteen miles from the finish line off the Les Bourdinots buoy on the approaches to St Cast. So it was that the race got under way shortly before one o'clock with most boats swiftly hoisting their spinnakers in the light north-westerly breeze.

Line honours in the fast cruiser class went to Alan Stevens and Mark Tucker on the First 44.7, Zanzibar, crossing the line shortly before four o'clock, swiftly followed by Rhys Perkins and Bob de la Haye racing their Archambault A35, Abracadabra, and Richard Gale and Phil Brown on the Prima 38, Jenna B. Whilst the A35 carried the day on their NHC handicap it was Darren Stower and Graeme Monks on the Projection 762, Crumpet, who won on IRC. (Note: RCIYC races are dual scored under NHC and IRC).

Peter Crab and Peter Williams' X95, Paper Tiger, took line honours in Class 2 a few minutes before four o'clock with Malcolm Le Couteur and Ian Moisan's Farr 727, Mic Mac, hot on their heels. Whilst Mic Mac won on NHC it was Tom Vallois' Hunter Sonata, Moonlight Sonata, which took the honours under IRC. Julian Barber and Dan de Carteret, sailing the Farr 727Super Q, and Paper Tiger also had a share in the top three spots.

Once all boats were in, crews made their way to the Jardin Délice restaurant in St Cast for dinner. Fine dining is another great feature of this event!

Sunday dawned fine with the wind having backed a little and still light. The next destination was the finish line off the Cain ar Monse buoy at the entrance to the Ferlas channel leading to the River Trieux and thence to the marina at Lezardrieux. This time the fleet faced the prospect of a thirty mile beat in light winds albeit with the tide but with the prospect of foul tide off Bréhat as the day wore on. So, the course was again shortened and boats motored on to the Les Landas buoy some distance north-north-west of Erquy, the course now being a little under twenty miles. By now the breeze had filled in and boats were sent on their way shortly after eleven o'clock to enjoy a solid beat westwards, leaving the Grand Léjon lighthouse to port.

Arriving just as the tide was turning southwards on finishing mark, the long-legged Zanzibar took line honours, once again, after three hours with Jeff and Laura Speller, sailing the new Dragonfly 32, Aquafly, finishing minutes later to be followed by Abracadabra and Jenna B. The corrected times show all three monohulls finishing in that order, under both handicap systems, whilst the trimaran's handicap kept her out of the top three places.

Close-hauled sailing clearly suited Mike Seguss and Andrew Jelley's First 31.7, Jack Rabbit, enabling them to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat with straight wins under both IRC and NHC finishing well clear of Paper Tiger and Micheal Foreman and Nigel Palmer's Starlight 35, Wandering Star. The corrected times show the boats finishing in that order under both systems. The strengthening tide proved to be a considerable challenge for the back markers.

Berthing in Lezardrieux proved to be straightforward with no undue excitement due to the flood tide. Once again, the diners set off to dinner, this time to the Auberge du Trieux where crews enjoyed a super menu and great hospitality.

All was quiet in the river on Monday morning but by the time the boats had come to the line off the Les Sirlots buoy, at the entrance to the river, for the ten o'clock start of the race back to Jersey they found that the breeze had filled in to twenty knots from the west. That coupled with the ebbing tide produced confused and lumpy seas. The start went without a hitch, at least from the race committee's point of view. Spinnakers were quickly hoisted with some boats getting off to a storming start whilst others were a little more modest in getting under way. One boat's spinnaker hoist translated to a wrap that resisted all attempts to unwind thus blighting her performance for the rest of the race.

The fast ride home was not particularly comfortable with the quartering seas proving to be a bit of a challenge with several boats experiencing involuntary gybes as they sped along, most under spinnaker.

Aquafly was the first boat home after five and a half hours having sailed the forty mile course, passing the northwest Minquiers buoy to the Les Hinguettes buoy before turning for the finish line in the Small Roads leading to St Helier Harbour. Jenna B was the first monohull, followed by Abracadabra. However, it was Crumpet that took the day on both NHC and IRC with Jenna B and Abracadabra sharing second and third spots.

After a brilliant spinnaker start Steve Pearl and Ben Jones sailing the Sadler 34, Almecha, sailed home in just over six hours to line honours in Class 2 to win the race on corrected time as well. Nick Bailhache and Jim Baxter, sailing the Moody 31, Fillipene, Mic Mac and Super Q shared the spoils in second and third on corrected time.

The event came to a close Wednesday evening when, prior to a very well attended supper, Denise Waller presented the place prizes assisted by both Commodore James Wilding (crew aboard Camira) and Hon Sailing Secretary Bill Harris. The Commodore thanked the sponsors for supporting yet another excellent Two-handed Triangle Race and congratulated the skippers on such a fine turnout. Speaking for all the participants, St Helier YC Rear Commodore Philip Burton congratulated and thanked the sponsors and Club for a fabulous event.

Jersey to St Cast-le-Guildo - Class NHC A/IRC 1

Abracadabra - Rhys Perkins & Bob de la Haye 1/2
Crumpet - Darren Stower & Graeme Monks 2/1
Jenna B - Richard Gale & Phil Brown 3/3

Jersey to St Cast-le-Guildo - Class NHC B/IRC 2

Mic Mac - Malcolm Le Couteur & Ian Moisan 1/2
Super Q - Julian Barber & Dan de Carteret 2/3
Paper Tiger - Peter Crabb & Peter Williams 3/4
Moonlight Sonata - Tom Vallois & George 4/1

St Cast-le-Guildo to Lezardrieux - Class NHC A/IRC 1

Zanzibar - Alan Stevens & Mark Tucker 1/1
Abracadabra 2/2
Jenna B 3/3

St Cast-le-Guildo to Lezardrieux - Class NHC B/IRC 2

Jack Rabbit - Mike Seguss & Andrew Jelley 1/1
Paper Tiger 2/2
Wandering Star – Micheal Foreman & Nigel Palmer 3/3

Lezardrieux to Jersey - Class NHC A/IRC 1

Crumpet 1/1
Jenna B 2/3
Abracadabra 3/2

Lezardrieux to Jersey - Class NHC B/IRC 2

Almecha - Steve Pearl & Ben Jones 1/1
Fillipene - Nick Bailhache & Jim Baxter 2/-
Mic Mac 3/2
Super Q 5/3

Overall - Class NHC A/IRC 1 (8 boats in the class)

Abracadabra 6/6
Crumpet 8/6 (Winner of the Waller-Harris Trophy on IRC)
Jenna B 8/9

Overall - Class NHC B/IRC 2 (14 boats in the class)

MicMac 9/8 (Winner of the Waller-Harris Trophy on IRC)
Super Q 13/11
Paper Tiger 15/12

Full results are available through www.rciycjersey.com/sailing/results

A diary date: Sunday 13th August – Rossborough Round the Island Race for sportsboat, cruiser and sport catamaran classes. The NoR and SIs are on www.rciycjersey.com.

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