Venture Cup: Cinzano Perspective - Words by Simon Wood Power
 
With all the well documented crew issues we turned up in London at Wood Wharf with Cinzano looking really good after a re-rig by Mike Bontoft: the guy is a maniac for detail and he had spent lots of time making small but important changes. A new crew member Stefan Whitmarsh standing to our right.
 
 
Wood Wharf - The Venture Cup Pits
 
Wood Wharf was a great venue and the Venture Cup team of Richard and Aidan had set up a terrific event village, it was a shame that it was not as well attended as hoped, although it was good to see that all the boat crews were all there using the facilities, eating and drinking and entertaining.
 
Kerry Bobbin and his band of Thames boaters made us feel really welcome, although the spectre of the Greenpeace ship moored in the same dock had us wandering if anyone was up to some dirty tricks?
 
Scrutineering went perfectly and we did some final bits and bobs; we were ready, Gordon did an excellent crane job and we were on the water. A few filming engagements, an engine revving session that scored 99.6 Db on the Canary Wharf Lady’s meter. 
 
Off to briefing which was long and hot; but also very comprehensive, fortunately Rob gave us all a ten minute break.
 
Great to see the new Boss there, she looked stunning and a credit to the team. Warpath looked terrific and it was a real shame that the Microlink Team decided not to start.
 
 
Greenwich Yacht Club and a welcome bacon sandwich
 
Race day dawned far too early and we were all off into the dock in a timely manner, a 6 metre drop, a short run to the Greenwich Yacht Club and a welcome bacon sandwich.
 
Rob informed us that the weather was poor and we were very likely to be curtailed at Needles Fairway or worst case scenario taken into the Medway for the night.
 
Off up to Tower Bridge in convoy at about 6 knots, slowing down for rowing boats, great site to see London from the water. We turned under the Bridge, saw a few people waving and headed off. Shortly after the Thames Barrier we sped up to about 28 knots behind the PLA rib, with Kerry and his fleet in tow as well.
 
We all slowed twice when we re-grouped and arrived off Southend for the muster at about 10.15. One of the Warpath guys was seen taking a leak off the back whilst we waited for Rob to explain the course on the VHF.
 
Green flag dropped and we were off, seas were probably about a metre and confused and we ran with Warpath on our Stbd quarter down past the Kentish Flat Windfarm to Copperas and off to Longnose, which seemed a long was away. Stefan was pointing out lobster markers to the guys on Warpath and they missed most of them!
 
 
Race start on the Thames - Photo Andrew Kenyon
 
Round Longnose and off down to the Gull mark off Ramsgate channel was horrible, 4 metre plus head seas, as strong North Easterly and the tide on the make meant they were short and sharp. We ran up the fronts, hovered and dropped into the dips, often taking a foot or more of solid green over the deck and down to 20 or so knots; pumps on. Warpath our constant shadow.
 
We got past Ramsgate and headed down to Gull Stream and North Goodwin, keeping clear of the Ramsgate exclusion zone that stretched way down to the west along Pegwell Bay.
 
When we got South of Goodwin Fork Cardinal Warpath sped up and we let them go as they went straight into the Dover exclusion zone passing about 300 yds off the entrance to the port, meanwhile we battled out to two GPS locations about 2 miles out. We never saw them again on that leg.
 
Dungeness, as ever looked like a massive ship from about 6 or 7 miles away and took ages to get to, we cut into Rye Bay to find some calmer water and were rather cruising along when we saw Grey Ghost just offshore closing in on Beachy Head.
 
We stoked the coals and sped off towards Brighton where it was nice and calm and we ran high 80’s (MPH). After Brighton we went outside the Owers to miss the Shoal Of The Lead and off to St Catherines. Seas were confused but under a metre.
 
We saw the Needles Fairway from some distance away and were pleased to see Bob Eddings in Foxfire waving a red: day one ended and we went to Poole Quay for the night.
No damage to the boat, early morning, again and an excellent, brief, briefing from Gary Payne and Richard Salaman. Start off Bournemouth Pier, past Needles Fairway to Stbd and off to Guernsey.
 
Seas about a metre, Warpath running alongside on our Port quarter. Rather cruised over and caught by Grey Ghost again mid channel who was closely followed by Hot Lemon, they went West of Alderney, we decided on East, Warpath followed. I think it was the best choice as when we next saw Hot Lemon they were a few miles back. (These guys were racing for the first time and were doing a top job).
 
Coming down the Little Russell past Roustel Warpath was on our Port side and we waved her on to the finish, they crossed in front a couple of times looking for the finish line and were a few seconds in front.
 
It was great to be back in Guernsey! The welcome sight of Micky Robert and the Scrutineers in a rib showing us where to go !
 
 
It was great to be back in Guernsey! - Photo courtesy Peter Sweeney
 
We made a fuelling error and had to go back for some more as we had short filled. 
 
Vin D’Honeur in the Castle, Warpath presented with the Guernsey Gold cup as first boat into Guernsey – well done guys !
 
Monday morning, another early start, missed breakfast at La Colinette and some confusion about briefing times …
 
Good start on the legs to Jersey, led the fleet to the West to see who would follow on the run down to the first mark, and Desormes, you can guess! 
 
The Guiliot, I had forgotten just how small it is and with some pot markers in the middle; Warpath sat just behind we did our laps and we then headed South, seas flattening the further we went.
 
Led into St Helier, neck and neck with Warpath, haven’t been there on a boat for years, found all of the marks and headed off for the Miniquiers. Became very calm and slightly hazy. GPS showed later that we were running close to 100 MPH, Warpath just in front at the end of the first lap, then the plotters died …
 
Followed Warpath for a bit, hoping they knew where they were going, all was well as we saw first a familiar fishing boat and then the cardinal mark. Back up to the wave station and then we passed Grey Ghost on their first lap. Warpath couldn’t find Passage Rock Cardinal and we piped them to it winning the leg. That last lap average speed was Cinzano 86.21 MPH, Warpath 84.74 MPH.
 
 
Rooster! - Photo courtesy Peter Sweeney
 
Into St Helier to be lead in by a port launch, quick scrutineering, all OK. Looked at the fuel computer all that fast work meant that we were yet again short of fuel so we put in another 400 litres to get us back.
 
Jersey made us all feel really welcome with a great spread of food and drinks, excellent, a few interviews and we were refuelled too…
 
Short and sharp start and Warpath led us all off from Point Corbiere, heading for the West coast of Guernsey. When we got off Hanois we were running pretty much flat out and the water became glassy and sticky. We could see Warpath’s rooster about 3 miles in front, but we were happy with our position as by now we had about an hour and a half in front of Grey Ghost on total elapsed times.
 
Round the Casquets light, mercifully calm, round Alderney and back down the East Coast, lots of fast running, eventually in to St Peter Port just under 8 minutes behind Warpath at an average of 78 MPH, and nearly 20 minutes in front of Grey Ghost. More fuel …
 
The final day, time for breakfast as briefing was at 08.30. A bit of creative dialogue about a shortened course as we all wanted to get home, having missed our lay day: The OOD was having none of it; full course. 
 
Slight engine issue before the start, had Stefan in the engine room, quickly sorted and we made the muster.
 
Good start, led them off to find the first mark which had drifted North East, so turned the geographic point, Warpath headed on South, caught us up later as we went through the Guiliot for the first time, followed us closely for the two island laps then headed off North East as we passed the Brehon Tower.
 
We had a good run across the Channel, seas were under a metre, we saw Dean Stoneman in his beautiful XSR48 mid channel and had a fly by, several ships, Warpath had headed off into the yonder.
 
Caught by Grey Ghost just South of the Nab Tower, the workmen on there waved us all on, snotty seas. Off to St Catherines; plotters went down again, we had thought that we had fixed them. Big black thunder cloud, rain, viz down to about 100 metres or less, nothing to do but to run with the Scorpion that seemed to make really light work of the conditions.
 
Past St Catherines, one plotter working, still poor viz, we pushed on to Needles Fairway. Race Bulletin 1 had detailed that the mark had been moved from South West Shingles, this was also pointed out at the briefing due to the shift South of the Shingles Bank.
 
Found the Southbourne outfall buoy in the mist and powered for the finishing line. Warpath was 16 minutes ahead, Grey Ghost a minute behind. Pretty sure then that we had won overall if we had completed the course correctly.
 
Moored up at Poole Quay and passed post race scrutineering, signed off and waited for the results to be confirmed. Champagne, laurels, The Mayor, Markus revving the motors.
 
 
Stiff, tired and elated! Photo Brigitte Brun Bontoft
 
Prize giving at the Twin Sails, excellent job by Shelley, some nice and rather different trophies; it was all over. We were the overall winners. Stiff, tired, elated.
 
So lessons learnt: read all the race paperwork carefully, prepare the boat and the navigation well, run consistently and tactically. The old girl is in fine fettle, washed off, flushed, back in her trailer and ready for another outing if necessary.