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Charles Hessey races Aurai with the Greatest of Crew in the Red Sands Race 2009

Charles Hessey and the crew of Aurai for the 2009 Red Sands Race
The author and his great crew. Click photo for more pictures.

Pictures from the weekend

Didn’t we have a lovely time. By dint of everything coming together for one reason or another but mostly happy coincidences, we were a crew of 6 including myself. Three in the front and three in the back and amazingly enough it was not impossible. As we catered for 10 in total on the Saturday dinner, we tested all sorts of boundaries other than the bunks. All in all we agreed that 6 was not ideal for a day type sail if everybody hoped to be involved, but I thought everyone got along and we had some bits of very fine sailing.

The Saturday sail was meant to be an out and back type race to the Redsands Towers which are rust streaked, WW1 and then reused in WW2, gun towers defending the Thames. What is more the route is along the main shipping channel and so even the cowardly Aurai, did not have to worry about grounding or anything. However, wind was behind us, or not at all, and we got further and further behind everyone else, except a couple of boats as we got to the towers. I had to phone a friend when it became apparent that everyone in front was heading to Harty Ferry (due South) when I thought we were going back to Sheerness. Discovered that this was tactical, to avoid adverse tide and actually, the racers sneak (parallel to) along the Sheppey Shore to avoid adverse tide.

That all seemed a long way around to take a short cut for us and we set a course more directly for home. Only tide had better ideas and we were being swept more towards Sheppey and shallower water!

Girly crew thought we would probably be best to cheat and we discussed Donald Crowhurst type strategies as we were last. Though this also meant we would soon have the tide in our favour for the direct route as we were so far behind. Then weather gods intervene, it starts to rain, then we see squall over to starboard, instruct crew on stern to release the main when it hits and warn crew wind could go all around us for a while. Well we got a pathetic imitation of a wind shift muddle and the wind settled at 12/13 knots from the West. Please note rest of fleet had just turned west to get to Sheerness so had to tack. While we had to sail South West, giving us a splendid bit of breeze that carried us at great speed to Sheerness. We were still 8th out of 11 but at this point (and ignoring Bryan in Sunny) boats 2 – 7 finished less than an hour in front of us and we were only a few minutes behind Chica who was 7th.

Queenborough was full and as we were only 4 boats planning to stay we went to Stangate and tied up together, a splendid galley efforts from Tom and Kate (especially) produced a fine meal, all washed down with decent French seawater and a good excuse for some Russian Vodka! The Solstice gods had to be appeased.

Thank you everyone, all welcome back and now we prepare for Dartmouth and beyond, wish us well. While good luck to Andy as he takes White Noise south for the Round the Island Race, and the biggest yachting party of all. Our Regatta only has about three hundred crew to party with.

Charles Hessey Aurai

For the blood thirsty, we had a bit more red stuff to deal with but soon cleaned it up off the cabin floor.

Date Published 23rd Jun 2009