Captain’s Report 2012
After a few years of light conditions in the Classic regattas, hopes were high that 2012 would bring some stronger breezes. And so it did!
Due to certain celebrations (The Queens Jubilee and the Olympics) taking place in the UK this year, a few of our rivals were missing from the start line, namely Mariquita and Mariette. However, the ever reliable Moonbeam IV and Moonbeam III showed up to play in what is traditionally for Cambria the start of the racing season.
The race village was again set up under the ramparts of the old port creating a magic atmosphere and the forecast for the week promised some good sailing. Unfortunately for Moonbeam III, a collision with Stormy Weather meant the end of their regatta -and with this turned the ‘Big Class’ into more of a procession. However, the racing was close with Moonbeam IV on handicap at least. Though winning the first day by 34mins on the water we missed a handicap win by 24 seconds!
Race 2 Cambria won by 21mins, race 3 was cancelled and race 4 Cambria won by 23 mins on the water. However, these margins translated to 4 min and 9 min losses respectfully. These results show how difficult, nearly impossible it is for Cambria to compete competitively with the current CIM rating system. The regatta results were Moonbeam IV first, Cambria second and Moonbeam III third.
Argentario Race Week
Cambria had not raced in Porto Santo Stefano for 6 years so expectations were high as she sailed into one of the great Mediterranean venues. There had been political issues over the past few years but everything was back to normal and the yachts gathered in the beautiful Tuscan port.
On the practice day we sailed out to pay respects to those lost on the Costa Concordia which was still lying on her side off Giglia only 5 miles off Santo Stefano.
Due to lack of ‘Big Class’ yachts attending this regatta, Cambria was classed with the vintage Marconi’s. Our competition for the week was the likes of the beautiful Fife Halloween, Alfred Milne’s The Blue Peter and the famous Olin Stevens design, Stormy Weather.
The wind was perfect, each day built to a perfect 20 knot sea breeze with flat water. Due to the course configuration, a square reaching course around the bay, tactics were limited and the racing became a question of waterline length.
Cambria won each day on the water as would be expected notching up speeds of 13.5 knots, averaging 12 knots around 18 Nm courses. With all yachts sailing at their fastest it was a good opportunity to see the ratings at their best (or worst), as due to the lack of tactics, racing was down to boat speed. The ratings are designed to bring yachts of different size together in constant conditions. Though finishing up to 50 minutes ahead of the eventual regatta winner and at least 20 minute ahead of the next yacht to cross the line, Cambria was last every day by between 12 and 17 minutes on corrected time. To win, Cambria needed to complete the 18 Nm courses in 1 hour 10 minutes, averaging 15 knots!!! Impossible.
I hope one day CIM will listen and ratings will be adjusted to bring the fleet closer together.
This year Cambria cruised the East and South coast of Sardinia and the west and north coast of Corsica. The scenery was breathtaking and the beaches beautiful.
Vele d’epoca Imperia
Cambria had not attended this bi-annual event since 2006, during which the beautiful Ligurian town received over 900mm in 48hrs! We were hoping for more wind and less rain this time. Unfortunately a strong mistral finished the day before the regatta and so did the wind for the rest of our stay. This actually was to help Cambria.
Our competition was Moonbeam III, Sunshine and the newly extended Elena. Elena had recently finished fitting a longer boom and bowsprit, which gave them an extra 100 sq. of sail. Altair, Addix and Atlantic were also in the port but not racing.
Day one built to 14 knots of breeze and Cambria had put in plenty of distance between her rivals certainly enough to get Elena, but maybe just enough to get Moonbeam III as well. With the finish line 3 miles away after 20 miles raced, Cambria was looking good until the Mainsail outhaul block parted and the mainsail clew slid off its track. We immediately lowered the main to check everything before replacing the block and incorporating a safety line to reset the main and get back underway. During this 40-minute period both Elena and Moonbeam sailed past us, however the crew did a fantastic job and we still finished the race in 3rd position. Finishing the race made all the difference as the wind was dying over the next few days.
On day 2 Cambria was the only yacht in the fleet to finish within the allotted time period. This result catapulted her into first place in the class. Day 3 was a shortened course again due to fading breeze and Cambria, again first over the water managed a second on handicap to Moonbeam III. Cambria maintained the lead overall, however if a race was held on Day 4, competitors could drop their worst result. On day 4 the wind was again light, and with a reduced time period for racing due to prize giving, the race was abandoned.
Cambria won the regatta!!!!!! Cambria had won in Imperia back in 2004 by the same method; being able to get around the course before the wind died, whilst the competitors could not. Certainly not the preferred way to win a regatta but it again shows how important it was not to give up with the breakage on day one, but to continue on and stay competitive until the end. Special thanks to all involved. To see the surprise, have a look at :
Regates Royales Cannes
The wind arrived for the Regate Royale.
The Cannes Regatta is traditionally around the autumn equinox, which reliably throws some interesting weather for the Classic fleet. Back in 2007 the fleet was twice struck by storms with lightening strikes and dismasting. 2012 had that sense of deja vu.
Again Cannes attracted a beautiful fleet of Vintage and Classic yachts, Cambria rubbing fenders with Shamrock V, Elena, Mariquita (back from the UK), Thendara, Moonbeam III & IV, Sunshine, Mariska and Milena.
The forecast for the week was unstable, difficult for sail selection. Mondays practice day was a fair indication for the week. Cambria managed to get out and complete both windward and leeward work before the squall arrived, Kelpie was still handing sail when a mini tornado struck. Bare poled Cambria was still knocked to rail under water. As we had all instruments off due to lightening, we cannot say what the wind speed was but 58 knots was recorded in Antibes. The squall was very intense and fast moving so passed quickly and we were able to return to port and prepare for the first race.
Clear skies and fair winds up to 14 knots for day one racing, Cambria showing all the way around the 9 nm course finishing 2 minutes before Mariquita our closest competitor and 10 minutes in front of Elena who rates closest to Cambria.
Day two looked at lot like Monday and ended up being a particularly forgettable day. Racing started under black skies and soon after torrential rain but no wind. To add to matters a building swell arrived from the south. The wind swung through 180 degrees and the windward leg turned to a run, so the kite went up. Shortly afterward the kite ripped across the head and it came down again! In retrieving the kite and keeping Cambria at a sailable angle to the swell we soon fell from first to last. To make matters worse the wind freshened and again turned 180 helping the fleet home whilst slowing us further. Certainly our worst performance, though to put it in perspective, not as bad as Milena’s day, they lost their mast…
Day three’s forecast was force 4 to 6 from the west. Reefs were set and headsails were changed numerous times as we tried to predict whether the wind would be more 4 or 6! Elena disappeared over the horizon as she wrestled being over canvased, so much so she missed the start completely and retired from the race as conditions built. Shortly after the start the wind built to constant 30 knots gusting 35. Cambria though certainly overpowered held onto the fleet, rounding the d’Esterel mark just behind Thendara and Moonbeam IV who were both revelling in the stronger conditions. Mariquita was hot on our tail as was Moonbeam III. It was at this mark we narrowly missed running over a Tofinu who broached under the bobstay in a 35 knot gust, I’m sure they will never forget that moment. We ran down to the La Napoule/Mandelieu mark at 12.5 knots with reefed main and staysail! Cambria and her crew were doing a fantastic job staying onboard and in one piece, and the finish line was in site. However the last ‘Big’ jibe had cooked the main winch motor throwing the overheat switch and thus loosing power to the winch! With three of Cambria’s finest on the winch handle we still could not sail as we wished, and soon found ourselves having to drop the mainsail and limp home over the line under headsails, only 35 seconds minutes behind Moonbeam III. Elena had retired, as did Mariska, whilst Shamrock was penalized for losing a crewmember over the side (though quickly recovered by a tender with no injuries sustained). It was certainly not a Cambria day, so I was particularly happy and proud of both ship and crew for getting through the day in one piece and all on board!
Day 4 saw the return of 14 knot easterly breezes and Cambria back to the front of the fleet, Cambria by 3 minutes over Elena and 7 minutes over Mariquita on real time.
Saturdays racing was cancelled due to gale force Easterlies forecast! What a week! Not a memorable regatta for results, Cambria finishing 7th in class, however for sailing memories Cannes was the highlight of the year for all involved. Seeing Sunshine sailing on her beam end will stay with me forever!
Being the last Panerai event of the season, the final overall handicap standings of the year were announced:
Big Boat Class: 1st Moonbeam IV
2nd Moonbeam III
Congratulations to Xavier, Mick, and the crew of Moonbeam IV on a well sailed and competed year.
Les Voiles de St Tropez had extra meaning this year as a chapter of classic yacht racing closed with the changing of hands of the yacht Mariquita and the subsequent resigning of long term Captain Jim Thom. Jim had been involved with Mariquita from the final year of its rebuild, joining the circuit in 2004. Cambria and Mariquita have had many memorable battles and close encounters. We have always respected her and the way she has been sailed under Jim’s command.
The sailing for the week was straightforward with no major surprises. The event was tainted by one event on the Friday, day 5. Whist pre start, Elena collided with a large private spectator yacht, breaking her bowsprit and thus finishing her regatta. It is always difficult in St Tropez pre and immediately post race as the spectators move in for a closer look at the beautiful fleet of yachts sharing the same water. It adds to the excitement of the day and the event, however the potential for accident is large and it was lucky no one was hurt in the Elena incident.
The events of Day five were put aside as day 6, the final day promised champagne sailing, and a surprise fleet acknowledgement for Jim. Pre start, all long-term sailing rivals of Jim and Mariquita sailed past calling three cheers and firing cannons. A great display of friendship and the true spirit of what the classic yacht-racing scene is all about. Cambria went on to sail a perfect race, taking the gun on the last race of the year, however Mariquita went on to have the fairytale end and win the regatta on handicap.
On behalf of the owner and crew of Cambria I would like to wish Jim the very best for wherever his future takes him.
In closing, I would like to thank the owner on behalf of the race crew for another year of exciting sailing on boat the mighty Cambria. I would like to thank permanent crew; Dave, Tash, Andy, Fleur and Sian for their help over the year, Anna for shorebased logistics & support and all the race crew who make the time in their lives to help us keep the spirit alive.
NB – another congratulations goes to Dave and Tash who became Mr and Mrs Hambly back in May. Dave and Tash met onboard Cambria at the end of 2005. We all wish them a long and happy life together.