All paws on deck
Beaulieu at night
Brian Thomas and Jana
TYKE and crew
The River Beaulieu Rally was my first introduction to the world of X-Yachts.
I bought TYKE X-yachts 332 in April 2013, moored up in Kip Marina on the Firth of Clyde near Glasgow.
TYKE was not my first choice. I had already had an offer for Blue Max, another 332 based in the Hamble. However due to a short delay completing the sale of my old boat- a Westerly Oceanranger- a party of Germans descended on Southampton and gazumped me.
Unlike the normal trend in sailing I bought TYKE to change from outright cruising to racing.
Although I have completed some 18,000 miles blue water cruising since 2007 I have never raced dinghies or yachts before, so the crew and I are experiencing a very big learning curve.
The previous week we completed a Rally/Race to St Valery en Caux and came last on corrected time. Our handicap is too high I cried. But it’s just a poor excuse.
So the weekend trip to Beaulieu took on an even more important role to meet fellow X-Y owners.
I should add at this point that TYKE has exceeded all expectations. I did a lot of research and narrowed my choice down to the Beneteau First boats before someone mentioned X-Yachts.
After a quick look on the X-Yachts website I was convinced the 332 was the boat for me.
Following a week cruising the Western Highlands of Scotland and three weeks bringing the boat back to Shoreham by Sea I was overjoyed with TYKE. We had two problems both self inflicted. We bent the Vang mistaking the Vang rope with the 1st reef of the Main and broke the self tailing winch with a riding Genoa sheet. Both incidents were due to excessive and unnecessary pressure.
So we set off from Shoreham for the Gins Farm rally at 22.30 Friday evening with a passage plan to arrive in the Solent by early morning. I didn’t want to take the short cut through the Inner Owers (Selsey Bill) against wind and tide as this particular crew were new to TYKE, so we opted for the Outer Owers.
On our nose. It took us 6 hours to cover 22 miles to the Owers Cardinal which is pretty good considering the tide and wind against. My previous Westerly would still be struggling to pass Worthing pier! In fact I remember exactly the same passage and conditions in 2010 and we had to return to Shoreham. I was mightily impressed with TYKE. It conquered my nadir – The Outer Owers in a S Westerly wind.
Just as we passed the Cardinal the wind veered round to a N Westerly directly on our nose again to sail to The Solent. That’s sailing I suppose! After a couple of hours the wind continued to veer to the North which enabled us to sail towards Nab Tower. Not perfect but it was getting us there.
Eventually we arrived in the Solent with a F5/6 Northerly wind enough to get us up to the River entrance. I had visited Beaulieu once before but was still very wary to ensure we got the bearing of 324 degrees Ok.
We finally arrived at the Royal Southampton Yacht club at 10.15 am. A total of 66 miles and 12 hours sailing. Normally this passage would be no more than 50 miles as the crow flies. This compared with the trip back from St Valery the previous week, when it took 10.30 hours to cover 74 miles.
We were all tired, but not too tired to crack open a couple of beers each. It was such a beautiful morning with just the wildlife to keep us company. A wonderful setting.
By mid afternoon I was wondering if we had the right place but then John Noë on La Nef IV turned up after a hard slog up from the Hamble in gentle winds and hot sunshine. Gradually other boats appeared including John and Aafke Oldridge on Perserverance.
I was beginning to feel a bit out of my league with such handsome boats but everyone was friendly and so welcoming.
John was especially helpful with lots of good advice on how to set up a 332 for racing. Absolutely priceless advice for my humble entrance into competing with spinnakers and battened mainsail etc, etc. At one point I was rather shocked when John asked where the chocs were for the mast to deck fitting. “Oh that’s what those bits of rubber should be for”, was my reply. John said he had a spare choc in the garage which I could have. Many thanks John as I have now fitted the seal and can rest assured the mast will not wobble around anymore.
We had a delightful pre dinner drinks hosted by chairman Max Hubbard and his wife Celia. Drinks on the house compliments of X –Yachts. Once again I found all the skippers so helpful and willing to lend advice for sailing TYKE. Thank you all.
By 7.30 we were all ready for tuck and the RSYC didn’t disappoint. A superb 3 course dinner with a good selection of wine. One of our crew has a number of allergies such as nuts and the chef was above himself to ensure Jo was satisfied. I received a very big thumbs up from her.
Happily speeches were kept to a minimum and everyone departed happy and replete. After a 12 hour night sail we were more than ready for bed.
The weather forecast for Sunday was for a S Westerly F4/5. However up the river we were almost becalmed with another hot sunny day ahead of us. We left the pontoon at 10.15ish and motored down the river. Upon joining the Solent there was little wind and 2 knots of tide against us so we kept the engine on, much to my anguish. The promised F4/5 winds were not forthcoming until we were within 2 miles of the Inner Owers. Happily the breeze started to kick in and we sailed through Street and Boulder buoys under sail. I’ve never seen the channel so benign. Very quickly the wind increased but directly on our backs. Should we raise the spinnaker I thought?
Well with new crew I decided to goose wing the main and genoa. With the wind now gusting F5 we were really shifting and planing at 10 knots. Great feeling. Then the speed anemometer gave up the ghost and we had no idea of wind speed and I was not about to go climbing up the mast.
By 18.15 we were outside Shoreham harbour and rushed in to get the 18.30 lock. Perfect timing but rather a challenge when we turned into the F5/6 wind to get the main down. Luckily everyone was prepared for the sudden blast of wind.
Getting TYKE into the Sussex Yacht Club mooring was a bigger challenge as I had to treadle my way past boats on both sides and the wind was blowing the Bow around. After 3 tries we managed to squeeze in but at the last minute instead of turning the engine off I left it running and fouled the lazy line. That will require a wetsuit job later in the week.
So all in all an excellent weekend with the Rally. Lots of excellent advice and many new friends for the coming seasons. A cracking sail back to Shoreham and hopefully only half a unit to replace the anemometer (I prefer to use units instead of pound notes, it’s easier to swallow. A unit is worth £500).
Thanks again to the committee for organising such a lovely venue and fellow X-Yacht sailors for your friendly welcome to the world of real sailing.