A forecast of light wind decreasing to virtually nothing overnight faced racers planning to tackle the 100 mile Ancasta Roscoff Night Race, on Friday evening.
Despite this, nine yachts lined up at the Black Rock beacon line for the 6pm start, split between the two handicap classes, with four in Byron and five in IRC. This was race 1 in the Cornwall Offshore Group Series, organised by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, race officer Chris Davis.
This long running night race was, for the first time sponsored by yacht sales company Ancasta at Mylor, who provided new custom made trophies and flags and a great hospitality welcome for crews on the other side of the channel. A trial cruise/race, organised between competitors, from Roscoff to L’AberWrac’h which took place on Sunday was also sponsored by Ancasta.
From the start, the light breeze was enough for reasonable progress out towards the cloud banks that loomed on the distant dark horizon. The faster boats quickly opened up a lead and got further out to sea, before this light, fickle wind faded and dropped to zero, towards 9pm.
On our Sigma 33 we found ourselves drifting round in circles, between occasional patches of breeze sufficient to make way. Yachts picked up small patches of breeze in the darkness, glided forward past the others, betrayed only by masthead lights, before stopping again in a new lull.
Out in front the three faster J boats with bigger rigs pressed on, leaving the slower boats mostly parked. By daybreak it was clear to us on Afrita that we wouldn’t make the 24 hour cut off, so the engine was started and we motored across to the french port to join the remaining fleet just in time for dinner. Scorpion made the same decision. Meanwhile in the Byron fleet all four boats returned to Falmouth and retired.
A prize giving took place at 9am the following morning in the sunshine at the marina in Roscoff. The race was won by Johnny Walker on Juno, with Bob Warren and Gilly Fox on Jackdaw second and Stuart Sawyer’s Black Dog third. Bob and Gilly are entering the Round Britain and Ireland race in a few months time, and needed to accumulate miles for a qualifying passage for that race. They opted to round the finishing mark at the entrance to Roscoff and head back out to sea towards the channel islands to continue clocking up the miles, albeit slowly, in the calm conditions.
The following day dawned bright and with a good breeze for the onward trip to the beautiful port of L’AberWrac’h, some 30 miles to the west. Black Dog, Aftita and Scorpion lined up at the breakwater line and all opted to take the inside route through the Île de Batz channel. What a stunning start to a race, with spinnakers up in a good breeze under a clear blue sky blasting between the island and the town and out into the open sea.
The wind was perfect for kite flying, and with never little swell, the crews enjoyed a spectacular race accompanied by dolphins. The fast passage with the tide was completed in around four and a half hours to the finish of the Libenter cardinal that is the leading mark for the main channel up the river.
At the marina in L’AberWrac’h, a prize giving and social took place on the pontoon in the sunshine, capping off a wonderful weekend. The race was won by Afrita, with Scorpion 2nd and Black Dog 3rd.
COGS would like to warmly thank, the organising club RCYC, race officer Chris Davis, and sponsor Simon Boote and Ancasta for supporting the races. The wind reduced numbers this year, but those who took part enjoyed some challenging fun sailing. It is hoped that the onward race to L’AberWrac’h will become a regular feature in future years.
by Andrew Laming