Jelly's Last Wobble?
The Devon & Cornwall team's Police Sailing UK National Offshore Championships, 2005 -
The 2005 PSUK Offshore Championships were held in Argyll, Scotland between Sunday, 15th May and Thursday, 19th May, 2005
This is the story of the event from one of the yachts
competing. Chris Jellis (known by his colleagues as "Jelly") was the skipper
of the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary 's entry. He retired from the force as
the Championships ended...
The D&C team consisted of Julie Turner, Ray Lawry, Andy Munday, Trevor Bardwell-Jones, John Gorman, Sherman Wright and Chris Jelliss. The team were picked up early Friday, 13th May and flew from Bristol to Glasgow and thence to Largs yacht-haven where the “Sunfast” 37 ft Yachts were picked up. Friday night saw us at Tarbert at 2130 hrs for a well-earned beer and food.
Saturday 14th was an early, 0500 start to get to the bottom end of the Crinan Canal which was achieved at 0800 hrs, then 7 hrs of locking up and down 15 locks to Crinan in glorious sunshine with fabulous scenery and we hadn’t even started racing yet? Saturday evening was spent renewing old acquaintances and making new friends among the 19 crews from the UK Police service.
Sunday saw the first race with the inevitable short line and many boats over with a general recall. The second start was better and the fleet took off toward Oban via the Sound of Luing. We fought fickle winds and strange tides and D&C were the 4th Sunfast and 8th on handicap.
Race 2 was a flog around the Sound of Luing out of Oban in some strong winds and differing tactics. D&C managed to be the 3rd Sunfast but 9th on handicap for this race. Certain grumblings were heard among the “Core Fleet” about full handicap numbers applied to the Sunfast boats which only had number two genoas as their biggest sails. However we were having a great time in the Sunfast fleet with some exciting tactical racing and our boat speed was certainly not lacking. Nottingham, helmed by Pete Walters were certainly ahead but not invincible!!
Race Three was a passage race to Tobermoray and was the kind of start we all wish never happened in yacht racing. So a reach across the start line put us among the also-rans but we fought back and when we came to the start of the Sound of Mull we actually looked good for a while as the wind went from light to non-existent and back to light. The majority of the fleet went to the right and looked like they were getting hoovered up the side of Usmore while we stayed left and got a lovely lift up the shore line with the tide taking us to Tobermory. That is until the pesky back eddy wiped us back toward Oban and the rest of the fleet was history!! However testament to the crew and our commitment we fought back through the fleet from last to a healthy 9th Sunfast and 16th on handicap. One for the discard bin?
Tobermoray is stunning and was a joy to visit in the bright sunshine. Race Four was an interesting race around some marks in the Sound of Mull. The lead changed fortunes several times as Nott’s lost the small island we were supposed to circumnavigate. The race officer had warned us that there was enough room for two boats around an isolated danger mark but Nott’s, who had regained the lead found they were too close and grounded. The Met & Lothian & Borders slipped through with D&C close behind after some nifty spinnaker work by Sherman and Andy on the foredeck. Nott’s came back with a vengeance and D&C were 4th Sunfast and 6th on handicap which tends to support the earlier grumblings regarding handicap.
Race Five saw some excellent sailing by D&C who never let Nott’s out of their sight. Some brilliant tactics by John and Trevor with superb crewing by Andy and Trevor, brought us into second place into the start of a long, windy kite run in some building seas. We got into 1st place and extended a comfortable lead when Jelly said the immortal words, “Hey Jules, Go get the camera will you!!!” A Momentary loss of concentration coupled with a 10 degree veer on an already 5 degree lee kite gave the boat a shove to starboard the helm responded and she came back and 'Splosh' - a wave took the bow to starboard again. She started to roll to weather and again the helm responded and thankfully she came back!!!!!!! 'Bang' - another wave and we broached to weather. The rudder lost its grip and we were all over the Sound of Mull, sideways with water pouring in the cockpit and the boom about to slam across. After an age we got up and went sailing just as it looked like we would have to take it all down. The boom was gybed and the inevitable happened with a lee broach. We got it up and sailed toward the finish with the kite up if only to dry it out. And Ray who went in up to his armpits!! Nott’s took the line just a few boat lengths in front. D&C were 2nd Sunfast and 3rd on handicap.
Race Six was a joy as we got a good start on a reach off the line, headed up into the front end of the fleet, tacked early into the right side of the course and took the lifts up the shore. John and Trevor worked at the tactics and nav. Andy and Jules with Ray worked the cockpit with Trevor throwing extra pounds in the winches. Sherman called the strokes on the reefing when the boat got out of control in the big gusts and the crewing went into survive and win mode!!. D&C stood covering Nott’s and Met's B from both sides of the Sound of Mull and a superb tactical decision made to dive to the left side of the course put us up with the top three boats. We traded short tack for tide and back and an unfortunate scrambled noodle of sheets resulted in an advantageous tack inshore and put us in the lead for a few tacks. Nott’s pulled out a stroke and dived over to the right and gained a two boat length lead which was precarious in any event. D&C tried to force the issue, John Gorman pushed the crew hard into quicker and decisive tacks but in the end Pete Walters, Nott’s, confided later he was covering D&C as long as it was sensible but sailed the proper course. In reducing wind speeds we gained full sail and in a 12 mile course beat, Nott’s had a three to four boat length advantage over D&C at the finish. The rest of the fleet were history in the depths of the mist and rain behind us. D&C were 2nd Sunsail and 3rd overall. Still we won the engine race and the inevitable shower race into Oban with a brilliant four-crew standby with towels and shampoo dash off the boat as we touched the pontoon.
Overall D&C got a 6th place on handicap being the 3rd placed Sunfast behind Nott’s, the overall winners and Met B. D&C continued to improve as the week evolved and a combination of tactics, starts, boatspeed and crewing would have seen a better result if we had time to practice as a crew before the event.
Thursday night saw a great reception. Dinner at Oban and an early night forced by the water taxi to the marina across the water and the 0500 start for the long flog from Oban to Largs on Friday. An engine flog to Crinan against tide and weather saw an early start to the canal Passage. The crowning glory was a free wind and kite run out of the canal back to Oban which the crew were reluctant to let end, in a glorious evening of cloud and sun in the Clyde then an evening at Largs prior to the early start for the flight home.
Personally I could not have wished for a better end to a 30 yr career ending on the last race with superb company and friendship which will endure for the entirety of my long term memory.
Jelly's last wobble?
Pictured left to right: Andy Mundy, Chris Jellis, Ray Lawry, Trevor Bardwell-Jones, Julie Turner
The Section runs its own website at
and runs an extensive itinerary of courses and training during the year including an in-force dinghy regatta which is reported on elsewhere.