Another fantastic season passes under the keel!
It was a slightly earlier start to sailing this year with an early May trip to Corsica with guests competing in the Corsican Triathlon. This is a double Olympic length course, which also doubles as the French National title. We arrived in Corsica to still see snow on the mountains, a beautiful sight and with it being so early in the season we felt we had the coast to ourselves. Though the triathlon was to provide challenges and memories to those competing, the icing on the cake of the trip was the sail home. A beam reach in 25 gusting 35 knots of Sw’ly, Cambria covered 60 nm in 5 hrs, an average of 12 knots, exciting sailing and certainly memorable for everyone on board.
Following Cambria’s annual haul-out for antifouling and valve/skin fitting service, it was straight into the start of the regatta season.
Traditionally Cambria’s first regatta of the season and this year again attracting a beautiful collection of vintage and classic yachts.
The Big Class comprised of Cambria, Moonbeam IV, Moonbeam III, Eleonora, Mariquita and Mariska. The weather for the week was particularly light which usually suits Cambria, however Mariska, the beautiful 15m Class Fife, was able to keep ahead in the under 7 knot wind range, hence took the line honours on three of the four races; with Cambria taking the gun on the only day over 7 knots. Mariska was certainly sailed well, the early training sessions in preparation for the 15m Class trophy this year certainly payed dividends. Cambria finished 2nd on real time and 4th on corrected behind Mariska, Moonbeam IV and Mariquita.
Argentario Sailing Week
One of our favourite regattas held in the Tuscan town of Porto Santo Stefano on the shores of Mt Argentario. There can be a fantastic off shore sea breeze here which makes for perfect flat water sailing, just what Cambria was designed for. This year was no exception with up to 18 knots of breeze at the northern end of the bay, whilst only 5 knots in the middle. This certainly made for interesting racing and tactics. Cambria's competition this year indluded two Italian classics Javelin and Caroly. Mariette, the Hereshoff schooner, was also back in the Med., whilst Halloween decided to rate Big Class to add another dimension to the start line. Mariquita rounded off the class for an interesting regatta. Having arrived fresh from Antibes with the same race crew, Cambria was certainly sailed well. The conditions also suited and so took a clean sweep of the three days racing on real time. Mariquita took day one and Mariette day two on corrected time. Day three proved to be Cambria's day, putting enough time between boats to come away with a win on corrected time as well. This left all three yachts with a first place and after discarding one race each, all on even points. Cambria won the event on count back; a fantastic result, if not surprising! A deserving win nonetheless and testament to all of the hard work put in by crew and the on going tenacity of the race crew.
Cruising this year took us to the Northern Sporades in Greece. A beautiful cluster of Islands North of Evia in the Agean; Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnisos are the main Islands with a number of smaller uninhabited islands making up the national park archipelago. The islands are just outside the Meltimi wind belt, the further east in the island group the winds ease offering all spectrums of sailing. Again the further east in the group the more lush the vegetation with Skiathos and Skopelos densely vegetated with pines and forest touching the sea. Crystal clear water and beautiful white sandy beaches.After a prosperous delivery across to Greece, hauling in six tuna, we spent 10 days cruising this magic area.
Cambria’s return to the western Mediterranean was not as successful fishing-wise - only landing one tuna.
We then had a quick turn around out of cruising mode and back into racing. This involves changing out cruising sails; main, staysail, jib and jib top, for the racing kit; main, staysail, two jibs, two jib tops and two kites. All excess cruising gear is also taken off to storage providing space for all the extra racing paraphernalia.
Mahon X Copa del Rey de Bacos de Epoca
Cambria, Mariette and Mariquita were joined by an old North Sea trader Texel No.6 to make up the Big Class in this years regatta. As usual there was good winds forecast all week, 15 – 25 knots from the North. Though this makes for exciting sailing, the sea - which arrives with the Northerly known as the ‘Tremontana’, heaps up along the east coast and can be boat breaking! Fortunately the wind seamed to ease in the evenings to allow for an excellent training day in the flat waters of the south coast in 22 knots, followed by an 18 knot first day racing.
With conditions certainly favouring the schooner Mariette , it was going to be close between Mariquita and Cambria. The two Fifes, currently neck and neck for the Panerai overall trophy; this regatta was the one to win.
An “interesting” start saw Mariette closed out by Mariquita. Mariette then tacked over onto port in Cambria’s water. This resulted in some fast crew work onboard Cambria to not only avoid Mariette but also the spectator and press boats surrounding the course side of the committee boat. Mariette was left dead in the water and slow, allowing Cambria to put good distance between the two. Due to the conditions, and a southerly current running further off shore, Cambria hugged the coast on the windward legs managing to keep her nose in front of Mariette . The lead changed a number of times as Mariette would come charging back downwind and reaching. By the time we entered the Mahon harbour Cambria was in front. As we entered, the wind backed around to the NW. Mariette entered on a northerly wind shift and whilst Cambria had to tack up the channel Mariette made it in one! Fortunately we had enough distance between us to hold them off and Cambria crossed the finish line first with Mariette only a couple of minutes behind, followed by Mariquita and finally Texel No.6. Certainly no way near enough time for handicap honours, however it was a fantastic result for us on what was clearly Mariette's conditions. Corrected results had Mariette first, Mariquita second and Cambria third.
Day two was more of the same with stronger wind 20 – 25 knots forecast. A difficult day for Cambria and Mariquita.
Perfect schooner material for Mariette. With points at a premium for the overall year result it was essential to use the conditions to our advantage over Mariquita. Cambria left the dock with a reef in and the #2 Jib hanked on, the issue would be slowing her down to reduce launching over the sea. We left the set up until quite late so as to watch the conditions and come up with a plan. Mariquita had set up inside the harbor. We watched them pounding and taking a lot of water over the bow just off the end of the point. Traditionally the committee set the windward mark around the same place so it was good to see the early effect of the sea way. After twenty minutes of “hanging on” and managing to keep all their crew on board, Mariquita returned to the relative calm seas under the point. There was now only twenty minutes until our start sequence and we were hoisting sail. Mariquita wanted to put a reef in their main sail however due the time running out quickly to our class start, they decided to withdraw from the race rather than risk racing overpowered and possibly damage the yacht or worse someone on board. This call in affect handed the years result to Cambria, provided she finished the days race. A result on the day would see Cambria finish above Mariquita in the regatta and with one day left it would be extremely difficult for Mariquita to regain the advantage, Cambria would have to retire from the last day – a very rare occurrence! With all this in mind Cambria sailed a conservative race ensuring a finish and thus result and also no damage to effect the last days racing. Mariette won the day both on the water and on corrected with Cambria second, Texel no.6 third and Mariquita DNS. The northerly built further over night resulting in the last day Saturday being cancelled due to a blow out. And so the final results were Mariette 1st, Cambria 2nd, Mariquita 3rd and Texel no.6 4th. On real time Cambria and Mariette shared the event. An excellent result in what were certainly not the conditions Cambria was designed for and a fantastic overall result to claim the Big Boat Class for 2013.
An excellent attendance again this year in Cannes saw Cambria racing Elena, Eleonora, Altair, Moonbeam III & IV, Mariquita, Mariska and Halloween. Conditions were varied through the week but generally a good breeze every day of 13-18 knots. Though an excellent sailing breeze not ideal for Cambria who finds herself in either reefed main, big jib or full main small jib. 15 knots is the full main reefing point, so with the wind fluctuating above and below Cambria would either be over or underpowered. Elena sailed well all week taking 4 of the 5 days racing on real time. Cambria came second on real time attaining one first and four seconds, whilst Mariquita followed third. On Corrected time Moonbeam III was first, Moonbeam IV second and Mariska third whilst Cambria and Elena finished 7th and 8th respectively.
The courses were again set around the Bay of Cannes with the Big Boat Class doing extended courses. As a result the committee finally allowed us to set off first of the fleet so as to avoid congestion around the course. This is preferable for the Big Boats, however the problem of overcrowded start areas was again brought home with a pre start collision between Mariquita and Nim (6m) resulting in Nim’s dismasting. Cambria’s regatta was not as smooth as usual due to gear failure. Thursday’s race ended with Elena holding off a fast finishing Cambria. Crossing the line together, Elena won by a bowsprit. During the pack up of the day's racing we found the starboard winch to be intermittent in operation. This is usually due to overheating and once the motor has cooled the operation returns to normal.
On Friday during prestart, the winch again failed, proving it was more of an issue. The crew jury-rigged to the windward winch to get us around the course, finishing a respectable second, given the circumstances. Once back in port we found the winch motor had in fact burnt out due partly to an oil seal in the gearbox failing and leaking oil into the motor. This set off quite a search around the area to find a replacement to get us back on the water for Saturday. Being a Friday night this was not going to be easy and I would like to thank everybody who answered their phones and tried to help. The best part of this story and perhaps the underlying reason we all love this classic yacht scene, was in the end, at around 2130 that Friday night I received a call from Marcus the captain of SY Thendara offering to lend us theirs as they were not competing. So Saturday morning we picked up the motor and gearbox from Thendara in Antibes, raced back to Cannes, installed it on Cambria and were out on the water by 1100 ready for the first start at 1200. Cambria then went on to win. The camaraderie and support amongst these yachts and crews makes you very proud to be part of.
Cannes is the last of the Panerai Classic Yacht series for the year and though not finishing well on corrected time, Cambria still won the overall Big Class for 2013.
Les Voiles des Saint Tropez
The forecast for the feeder race from Cannes to St Tropez was initially light easterlies before heavy thunderstorms moved in over the area. With this in mind Cambria decided not to risk damage and motored down to St Tropez arriving at the head of the gulf as the sky went black. Those who decided to race had all sorts of issues from crewmembers over-board to lost gear, so all in all Cambria had a good result and was ready for racing Tuesday in the last regatta of the season.
Our target for the regatta was to finish the season with a real time victory. The fleet consisted of the same competitors as Cannes with the addition of Ashanti and the three masted schooner Shenandoah.
Cambria started well on day 1, taking first on the water by four minutes over the 13.5 mile course. Day two saw Elena come back as the breeze freshened to 18 knots resulting in Cambria having to change headsails while Elena accelerated away. Challenge day was a blow out with racing cancelled, as was day 3, with 50 knots of easterly blowing into the Gulf. So by day 4; Saturday the last day of racing for the Season, Cambria and Elena were even on one race each. The forecast looked to suit Cambria with light easterlies, however by the start of the Big Class procedure, the wind had switched 180 degrees and was freshening. The race committee had managed to move the windward mark from its original position for the SE’ly to the westerly position however they did not make time to reset the start line. The result being 10 large overpowered Big Class yachts charging on a port reach toward the ‘windward’ mark in the middle of crowded St Tropez anchorage. The previous start had just rounded this mark and was now popping kites on starboard heading back towards the start line! Such a situation is extremely dangerous and has lead to accidents in the past. Fortunately everyone respected the situation and managed to avoid incident. It was certainly an exceptional sight to see these yachts in such close proximity all at hull speed. Though Elena made the mark first, Cambria had a cleaner rounding putting her back in the lead. It wasn’t long before the extra waterline length of Elena brought her back into contention and it would only be a matter of time before she rolled over the top of Cambria. At this point, George our navigator and Woody our tactician discovered that the clearance buoy, which was to be left to starboard, was well off station. Once we established this, we altered course drastically; nearly 90 degrees to make the buoy. Only Mariska followed, the rest of the fleet ignored it and continued on to the seaward mark. As a result by the time Cambria rounded the seaward mark, she was placed towards the back of the class with a lot of work to get back to the lead. The question of who was right would be left until after the race. Cambria set to catching the rest of the class. Elena was certainly out of reach and the day belonged to her, however one by one Cambria came back, passing Altair, Moonbeams III and IV, Halloween and finally, just before the line, Mariquita. In the end, a respectable finish, considering the conditions and circumstance. Second on real time to Elena who revelled in the 20 knot conditions. Sure enough, once the dust had settled and everyone was back in port, the chat on the dock was about ‘that’ mark. Mariska protested Moonbeam IV for not following the course. By dinner time that night we found that the issue was not just in our Class but also throughout the fleet with other classes protesting the Committee. With the jury room full, at 2230 that Saturday night there was still no result. Finally, a number of decisions were made. Some classes’ results were cancelled completely whilst other classes were issued with time penalties for those that did not respect the clearance buoy. The Big Class result stood unchanged as the protest was found to be incorrectly lodged!! That’s sailing!
So ends another prosperous season for Cambria. A difficult season for the conditions which were not her ideal, she still performed consistently well to win the Big Class overall.
A special thanks to the owner for another fantastic year of cruising and racing. This is Cambria’s 10th season under his stewardship and she is not only in better condition than when he purchased her but her racing record is second to none over this time, a direct result of his passion for this beautiful piece of maritime history.
Thank you to the permanent crew for your continued support and dedication: David Hambly, Natasha Hambly, Clara F T Kuile, Sian Coombes, Clive Cosby, Ashly Ross and Anna Barkham.
Race Crew 2013
Woody, Frano, Ez, Jean-Michel, Patrick, Peter S, Alistair, Fiona, Nicky, Gabriella, Patrice, Eric, Christophe, Mathieu, Andy M, Steve, John, Tim, Sara, Francis, Carlos, Robson, Paul, Peter M and George. Thank you to all of you for joining us this year and helping Cambria maintain her spirit. There are not many yachts filled with as much laughter and happiness; everyone is a part of this.