We're just back from the Pilot Cutter 2008 Review and "World Championships" organised by Classic Sailing, and, as promised in our last news report, here's a whole bunch of photos that we managed to snap from the deck of Agnes where we were guests of Luke Powell (Amelie Rose's builder). Although a bit damper than last year, this year's racing at least saw a couple of days of decent breezes which gave everyone involved a chance to see these big boats doing what they do best - shouldering through the waves like the big wooden brutes that they are!
The weekend started on Thursday night with the fleet assembling in Fowey, hosted by last year's winners William and Arne of Hesper. They'd organised a fabulous evening with a pig roast and booze and a midstream pontoon for the fleet to raft up against - which ensured that everything got off to an enjoyable (if slightly boozy) start. The next day saw the fleet race for the championship venue of St Mawes. Although the weather was less than ideal (too much rain and not enough wind) it was an incredible sight to see 11 cutters all rafted up together with mains and topsails aloft - evocative of the old sepia photographs one sees occasionally, only brought to life!
After tucking into a massive paella at the St Mawes social club the racing proper started on Saturday which dawned wet and breezy. There was frantic action in St Mawes Bay as the fleet jockeyed for position and a collective "Ooooff" was heard as Hesper and Marian had a (thankfully minor) collision manoeuvring for the start line. Both boats emerged pretty much unscathed which says a lot for the construction of these vessels as we heard the bang from half way across the bay. Then we were off - tacking out of Falmouth Harbour up to the windward mark some 4 miles out to sea, watched from Black Rock by some interested seals.
After clawing our way up to the windward mark we then had two reaches to cover to the finish line - which saw some fantastic high speed action as we all crammed on sail and shot across Falmouth approaches to the finish line back in St Mawes Bay. First across the line on day 1 was Iris (I think - we were some way behind!) followed by Jolie Brise, Mascotte and then us on Agnes - although thanks to the handicap given to us by Jolie and Mascotte we finished second.
Day two dawned even windier than day one and the big boys of the fleet congregated out on Carrick Roads for a bit of a thrash around before the start. We have some great video of this that we'll try to get up soon, but hopefully the pictures give some sense of what if feels like to see one of these wonderful vessels pounding along.
Day two was less incident-prone but with the greater breeze still managed to be a whole lot more fun than day one. We managed a creditable 5th on handicap - having passed AJ half way up the final leg in an exciting drag race back to the line. And then it was all back to the club house to hear the results and have a last couple of drinks. Results: Iris (a Westernman 40) 1st, Agnes (Luke Powell Replica Scillonian Pilot Cutter) 2nd, and, oh, I dunno, someone else came third - but we were so gobsmacked to have come 2nd I forgot to write it down!! Anyway enough rambling - here's a final few pictures - and remember, next year this could be you! All in all another brilliant adventure...
Looking forward to sailing with you soon,
Nick & Melisa