The Police Sport UK Offshore Sailing Championships 2010
The 2010 Police Sport UK (PSUK) Offshore Sailing Championships were hosted by Kent Police Recreation Association (KPRA) and held in the Solent area between 16th and 21st May.
A far cry from 1994 which was the last time Kent Police hosted it. Not only did both PSUK and KPRA have different names then, but different boats were used. At that time each force had to independently find and charter a boat themselves and a handicap system was used. Long night races were also in vogue.
To 2010, twenty teams entered; ten down on the 1994’s numbers. However, these twenty teams were made up from only twelve forces. Although twenty teams is a good number, it is a shame that not more forces entered.
Strathclyde made the journey south and Police Service of North Ireland (PSNI) made an epic journey, all because of some ash cloud!! A last minute change from flying to finding a car, a ferry to Stranraer, a long drive to Portsmouth and arriving on board at about 2.00am on the morning of the first race.
All teams were given theoretically the same boat, Jeaneau Sunfast 37's, chartered from Sunsail, 'though I am convinced that some teams were given faster boats.
The plan of Kent’s organising committee was to have slightly longer races than in previous years to try and keep within the ethos of the Offshore Sailing Championships and to try and avoid the bumps and scraps that occurred last year. Longer races allow the fleet time to spread out, therefore avoid large numbers of boats coming together at each mark. The weather however, had other plans.
The first day the crews motored out of Port Solent for the long trek into Portsmouth Harbour and out into The Solent, where they were met with little wind. The original plan to start a race in the area of Gilkicker was abandoned and the fleet made its way to the area of Bramble Bank near to Southampton Water.
By now the wind had filled in and the first race was soon under
way. This was the ideal start for those crews who either had no opportunity for
training or with a novice crew. The light breeze allowed a gentle introduction. The
first spinnaker run was the first time some crews had seen a spinnaker hoisted.
The light wind allowed a calm and gentle training exercise.
After a short break the second race soon got under way in the same area. The breeze had freshened now that the crews had blown the cobwebs away. This was won by Notts again with Met 'C' in second place followed by Hampshire’s Isle of Wight crew.
Monday night was spent in the nearby Hamble - a change from the last couple of years, where the fleet spent each night in Cowes. I think the organising committee felt that Cowes had had its fair share of twenty odd boats full of police officers!
The first day had provided a perfect start to the week with light winds gradually building to a reasonable breeze throughout the racing.
Tuesday again brought no wind and a mirror-like surface to the water, so the fleet motored the short distance back to the Bramble Bank area to wait for the wind. As if on order, the wind picked up at about 11.00am and Race Three got under way. This again was within the Bramble Bank. This area was chosen by the Race Office because of the lesser tides. With light winds, strong tides are not desirable. Two races were held; one after the other in the same area. Both races were won by Notts, second in the first was Met 'A' followed by Cleveland 'A'. The second race saw Met 'A' this time in second followed by Devon and Cornwall 'A'.
The third race of the day - Race Five - was a short passage race westward towards Lymington. The wind dropped slightly at the start. This gave the Race Officer concerns over the strong, west-going tide which would take boats fast across the line. A warning was given to avoid the committee boat. All boats in the end were well behaved and the race got under way without incident. The fleet, in a gently breeze, beat to windward with the help of the tide. However, as with all races it was not that easy and a downwind leg was put in place. This meant a spinnaker run against the tide to an up-tide mark, then a broad reach across the tide. A few tense moments as boats battled the tide and a ferry, gliding across tide, to get around. This meant pointing the yacht, what to the outsider would be completely the wrong direction and sailing further on than the mark. The race then finished just off Lymington and went into Lymington Yacht Haven for the night. The results were again first for Notts 'A', Met 'D' second, followed by Met 'A' in third.
The plan for Wednesday was for a passage race - perhaps a race 'around the island'. However, again the morning saw no wind but a promise of a breeze again during the afternoon. So, what with the wrong tide, 'Round the Island' was never on. The plan was for a passage race and so a passage race we shall have. All crews mustered just outside Lymington and as soon as ripples appeared on the water the race was started. A spinnaker start with tide. All bar one crew managed to stay off the start line with wind, and more importantly a strong tide, pushing them rapidly towards it. The one crew had a hard battle to get back up wind and tide and over the line to start again.
We were in for a long spinnaker run down towards Cowes, out towards Portsmouth and the east. So, to relive the boredom, the Hampshire crew decided to provide the entertainment for all just off Cowes. During a calm and controlled gybe, half the crew were at the mast and bow setting the spinnaker, one no doubt in the cockpit at the sheets and guys. One crew member calmly and carefully took hold of the mainsheet and through the gybe slow carried it across the boat to the opposite side. However as he got to the edge of the cockpit he carried on going, walking over the cockpit coaming, across the narrow side deck, over the guards rails and into thin air, still holding onto the mainsheet. He had the previous day joked that he could walk on water and for a moment that day he probably thought he could. But in all good cartoon fashion gravity took over despite the rapid movement of feet and legs and yes he went into the water, still holding onto the mainsheet. As a result of his refusal to let go he only got wet from the waist down.
There was then a moment from the rest of the crew, as if in thought ‘should I go
and help, but if I let go of this spinnaker sheet, the skipper will kill me’. He
was quickly retrieved and dried out. The boat didn’t even lose a place.
The fleet was now on a beat out across the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour and through the Forts. The wind again dropped as most of the fleet reached the furthest mark on the course. From here, it was back towards Cowes and Yarmouth. The fleet then spent a long time drifting, watching the clock as the tide was due to change and run against, preventing getting to the mark. However, another wind shift saw spinnaker up again and most were able to creep around the mark and into the now flood tide. As soon as boats rounded the mark, spinnakers down for a beat back into the Solent. Apparently the Race Office moored of Cowes had a breeze all day and spent some time wondering where the fleet had got to, not knowing that around the corner all were becalmed.
Another dog-leg off Ryde saw a short but fast spinnaker run back towards Portsmouth as the wind had increased; the fastest of the week. Then a beat to the finish line just off Cowes.
Some of the lead boats decided to drop sails and motor all the way to Yarmouth where the fleet was due to spend the night. I thought this was a sailing event and so did others. Most had a cracking sail in the quiet western Solent, with a good strong breeze and a fair tide. The sail was well worth the late arrival into Yarmouth.
The results for the day, first place again to Notts, followed by Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Cleveland 'A'.
During the evening, in a quiet pub in Yarmouth, PSNI made their biggest mistake of the week. They made a five pound bet to the Kent team, stating that they would beat them in the next day’s race.
Again Thursday morning produced no wind and
the fleet were instructed by the race
officer to make its own way to the Bramble Bank area where the tide would be
weak and hopefully a breeze again would come in later in the morning.
The fleet went into Cowes and spent the evening at the presentation dinner at
the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.
The after dinner speeches were given by Sara Thornton, Chief Constable of Thames Valley and chair of the National Sailing Committee and Libby Purves, writer, newspaper columnist, BBC Radio 4 broadcaster and yachtswomen. Libby gave a great speech on personal sailing experience, with wit and humour.
Prizes were presented by both Libby Purves and Sara Thornton. Overall places were first to Notts, second Hampshire, Isle of Wight and third to Devon and Cornwall 'A'.
The official event over, a friendly race was held on the Friday morning sail back to Port Solent called the 'Hangovers Cup'. Those with long journeys understandable did not join in, but headed straight back. However, it was a good race that saw some becalmed just off Gilkicker Point while others stayed slightly offshore and passed them with a stronger wind. Some even appeared to be aground close to the beach!?
Unusual for sailing, the weather was perfect, moderate breeze and a bit of sun. The light winds turning each day into stronger breezes gave many crews the opportunity to train in good conditions without fighting wind, boats and each other. There were no protests. However, despite each start line having a bias towards the buoy all boats had that magnetic attraction to the committee boat. But all stayed away just enough to avoid hitting it and each other.
Our thanks to the Race Officer Dave Nicholls and his team, Alex Tullett (Master of Dawn Lady) and Steve Grayland for some excellent courses, with good appreciation of wind and tide.
Thanks also to the Kent Police Recreation Association who hosted the event for the hard work spent over the previous year. Also to Graham Castell and his crew of Ruby Tuesday for their help as support.
I started this event in 1994 when Kent hosted it the first time, though I was with Thames Valley Police that year and a couple years after. It seems therefore appropriate that this year, hosted by Kent again, should be my last.
Regatta Results appear via the: PSUK National Offshore Championships page ...
Interpol Coppers Cup - 2009
The Kent Sailing Team under the name 'Kent Crusaders' took part for the first time in years and after a gruelling week with 15 starts and 14 Olympic style courses we finished a reasonable 8th overall. The regatta was extremely well run and the hospitality and sportsmanship both top quality. Our own boat was the only Jeanneau in the fleet and suffered slightly in the relentless force 6. However, no complaints as when the breeze eased slightly, we made up for a bit of time against the heavier Bavarias.
Those windmills pumped out the wind day and night and kept us all
working hard with the 5 person crew making the most of the social as
well as the racing. Early on, a few teams had a problem avoiding each
other but after the organisers were told that any more bumps and the
boats would be taken back by the charterer, then things calmed down and
the start line grew.
For a fuller report from crew member Steve O'Keefe please see the Interpol Coppers Cup page on this website.
Kent Police Sailing Club Contacts:
Kent Police Sailing Club Secretary:
See also Kent Police Sailing Club website.