Race Report: Helmsmans Cup 4 18th May. The very best of very little!

You might think that Saturday racing in the Victory Class is a bit low key, a Saturday afternoon stroll with tea and cake. Oh boy would you be wrong. Case in point this Saturday 18th May, Helmsmans Cup 4. At least no rain in the forecast for once, but no wind either, 4 – 8 knots or less from all points of the compass, with the only common theme across the weather forecasts being ‘not much’. Nonetheless, it was the decider for the series, and with 3 boats in the frame to take the trophy it was going to be a hard fought afternoon regardless! Only a point between Z75, Z70 and Z54. The three of us were delighted to be joined by Z68, sailed by ‘The Hartleys’ this fine afternoon, and with a tiller now helpfully reattached to the rudder.

Photo: MC. (p.s yes it is 75 and not 69 really!)

Course selection was frankly tricky, with little wind in places on the race track and swings from south east to south west as gate boat Z54 scratched their collective heads just outside the harbour entrance. Dare we go far afield? Clearly not… even BT and Gleeds, out in a solid east going tide, were fraught with potential disaster and the chance to be very late back to the bar. So then, start at PSC, to KB, Suffolk Sails, PSC, Suffolk Sails, PSC, and finish at Suffolk Sails…plenty of scope to shorten.

The wind was light at the start but with a bit of concentration it was just possible to get a respectable ‘gate’ sailed. Z75 was keen and the first one out of the gate, while 70 and 68 held on to go a little later. Come on, come on…….the third boat cleared the gate at 1 minute 50 seconds and Z54 was pleased to be free to tack out towards KB… and out into the east going that was set to push them away from the buoy. It was the same for everyone of course, and 75 crossed ahead of 54, as the wind held just enough to allow progress against the tide. It seemed to take a while, but 75 slipped round the buoy with 54 following, several lengths behind already. Spinnakers up for a very slow run back towards Suffolk Sails….

A look behind as we approached the downwind mark revealed a sad sight, the wind having deserted 68 and 70 somewhat before rounding KB, and a large gap had opened up between the first pair of boats and the second pair.

At the front 75 had some half a dozen lengths on 54 as we started back up the beat. Where was the wind? 54 took an earlier tack for the wall, where what there was of the breeze seemed to be clinging to the granite. 75 followed, but as the lay line for PSC approached 54 had edged ahead while closing the gap to windward. What would 75 do, tack on the lee bow of course, could we roll him, could he lay the mark? No and yes respectively, and 75 rounded PSC with a couple of boat lengths clear from 54. It was getting closer, although behind us we could see that Z70 was having no luck with the fickle breeze and 68 was opening the gap..

Down the run to Suffolk Sails again. At the mark 54 was on 75’s transom, but a better rounding saw her pull away again. Once again 54 tacked first for the wall. The wind had other ideas, as we headed south west it started to swing south, then south east. 75 and 54 both lifted. Now we were both overlaying PSC. Sails were eased, could 54 to leeward power out and break the overlap before the buoy. No again! Now neck and neck at the buoy 75 had control to get the tack in first and round on the inside. Feet only between us….

Now the run to the finish at Suffolk sails.. but its no longer a run of course… the wind is almost from the East. 75 takes a decision not to hoist, 54 hoists and foots off under 75 with Heather hanging on grimly to a tightly sheeted spinnaker! Picking up pace… 75 looking worried…half way to the line ..is he going to hoist?… he is going to hoist.. there it goes. With 75 briefly distracted 54 sheets harder and climbs across 75’s transom. Clear to windward, line bias in 54’s favour now, but can she gain the couple of boat lengths needed. 75 footing off for speed.. its close, its very close, its half a boat length…

To be honest, with no one on the line, both boats likely felt they had the win, but 75 certainly had the benefit of the doubt, to take the race and the Helmsmans Cup. Congratulations on a great race and series to Z75, and a great race and series for the Victory Class, half a boat length and 49 years of boat age separating the first two boats shows the best of the one design racing that the class offers.

A very honourable mention for Z70, MC and Matt cruelly abandoned by the wind gods on this occasion having had some great results in the first 3 races of the series….. next time….!

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The Season Opener - 90th year

​Many thanks to hosts Carole and Duncan and the hardworking social committee for the first social event of our 90th Year.. a great evening! (With a birthday cake for the class captain!)

Geoff Dixon’s avatar 20-Apr-2024 By Geoff Dixon in Social
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Victorys at Victory….

​Many thanks to Lead Shipwright Jimmy Green of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, for inviting the class to see just what’s involved in the latest refurbishment project for HMS Victory as it aims to secure the future of one of the most celebrated warships in Britain’s naval history.

If we sometimes feel challenged by our own older wooden Victory boats, when you get to a vessel that is 186ft long, 2162 tons, that was launched in 1765 you get a very different sense of perspective!

Geoff Dixon’s avatar 17-Jan-2024 By Geoff Dixon in Social
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Prizegiving 2023:  You had to be there…

Back in the ‘Nelson’ room at the Royal Maritime Club Portsmouth to collect the rewards from a busy racing season, there was plenty to celebrate on a cold November night…

Thanks are due for all the work from Zoe, MC and Max, outgoing Racing Secretary Sid, and Master of Ceremonies John Scammell to highlight the highs of 2023. The ‘Beazley Trophy’ for the overall Cowes Week win, the ‘Top Helms’, and no less than 14 other trophies were presented to Z74 Peregrine who had a spectacular 2023 season. Jim Downing received The ‘Captains Decanter’ for services to the class, and with Zoe Whittaker also collected 7 other trophies from another great performance on the water in Z78 Ziva, while Max and Scam won the one that every Saturday sailor wants, the ‘Presidents Shield’. The party continued after the formalities were over..

More Photos from the night can be found here…LINK

Geoff Dixon’s avatar 27-Nov-2023 By Geoff Dixon in Social
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Z74 ‘Peregrine’ wins Cowes Week 2023!

​Congratulations to Team Peregrine with helm Tom Hartridge, winning overall in the Victory Class in a tough Cowes 2023. With Z78 ‘Ziva’ helmed by Jim Downing in 2nd, and Z69 ‘Zinna’ helmed by John Scammell in 3rd place.

Geoff Dixon’s avatar 06-Aug-2023 By Geoff Dixon in Sailing & racing
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Race Report: Fleet Race Tuesday 25th July - The Dunlin Tub

The Fleet Race, for the Dunlin Tub, as sailed on Tuesday evening was the last race before the Class head to Cowes and Cowes Week on Friday. Possibly an inauspicious trophy to have on that particular evening, given that Z15, Dunlin, was lost on a fresh day in Cowes Week 2001. Cowes Week preparation also accounted for the lower than usual turnout, but 6 boats came to the line at PSC racing mark, Z53, 54, 68, 73, 74 and 80. Of those the 4 boats that were heading to Cowes later in the week were anxious to test their boats and their competitive edge!

Z15 Dunlin, with Dawson Penn at the helm and a certain young Victory and Contessa 32 sailor as crew. Circa 1992

With race officer Hugh Pringle set up at PSC racing mark, Course 2 was called, with 2 beats to BT followed by two shorter beats to PSC, all with Suffolk Sails as the downwind mark. The breeze was an encouraging SW gusting to 20 knots, enough to get your teeth into.

The fleet were keen on the line, stacked up at the committee boat end with 30 seconds to go. At the last moment a dive down the short line saw them all off the outer end with no one OCS, out towards the west going tide, undoubtedly the way to go. Z54 the leeward boat just squeezing past the buoy with 80, 74 and 68 to weather and behind. As 54 squeezed up from below one by one the others tacked off for clear air, leaving 54 to take advantage of the best of the tide further out. At BT 54 had the lead with 74 and 80 rounding not far behind.

Down the run to Suffolk Sails 54 extended with Heather working the kite hard. 74 and 80 neck and neck behind. Repeat up the beat to BT again, 54 tacking too early for the buoy and allowing 74 to close a little, but 54 first round again and 74 and 80 on top of each other behind.

54 leading round SS and beat to PSC, the lead still comfortable, but you can’t make a mistake in the Victory Class and here comes the first one. 54 gybes to come down the run on port, 80 follows, but 74 holds out on starboard gybe and gets more breeze, storming up on 54, while 80 also benefits from breeze filling from astern after a lull. 54 under pressure at Suffolk Sails, but just holding the overlap inside 74 with 80 behind.

It’s often important to keep hold of the big picture when you find yourself in close quarters. Mistake no.2, 54 allows 74 and 80 to tack first and they foot off under and out into the breeze. An early tack onto Port sees them both cross 54 as PSC approaches, but they were a little early with the tacks this time, 54 holds on and takes a little benefit from a lift into the wall, lifting over 80. Not quite over 74 however, who cross on starboard 1/2 boat length ahead, to round PSC to start downwind to the line first, with 54 second and 80 third. 74 in more breeze off the wall and 54 defending against 80 sees Peregrine take the Dunlin Trophy at the line, to add to a few others waiting for collection at the prizegiving… 54, 80, 68, 73 follow with 53 retiring.

Well done to 74, but all the Cowes bound boats are no doubt happy with their performance! Thanks to Mr Pringle and team for a great race.

Now there apparently needs to be a song in here, so, with Cowes Week approaching, all together now…

“What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor, What Shall We Do……..

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Age Matters… Race Report Thursday 8th June

8 boats on the line on Thursday night for race 3 of the Puffin trophy. A fine mix of the Victory Class at its best, with 4 wooden hulls and 4 GRP ready to go, covering 66 years of Victory builds, from Z54 (1949) to Z80(2015). The wind was in the ENE (again!) 15 - 20 knots, but a steadier breeze then we might have seen of late, and with the promise of moving up the scale to the 20 knot end as the evening went on.

Z74 ‘ in the chair’ for the evening set a course from a start line at PSC…… SS - BT - Liningtons - BT - SS. At the start the fleet were keen, too keen in some cases, Z54 and 69 early and ducking back down the line, and 67, oh so close to not being OCS, but the ’X’ went up and back they went after an almost! perfect start.

Going left to the wall for too long on the first beat did not pay. Out to the right got you to the right side of the curve as the wind shifted. Z78, Z80, Z54 first around SS with barely a 1/4 of a length between them. A gaggle of boats behind. Z78 low off the mark, Z80 up the middle, Z54 high and up over Z80. Down the long run to BT the wind swung just a little to the east, allowing the windward boats to hold a good line to the buoy and make the most of the gusts. At the mark its Z54, Z80, Z78, with 77 and 69 right behind. Still nothing in it.

The east going was running. Off the buoy on Port was the way to go, racing down the tide, but 77 and 69 tacked left at the buoy for clear air back towards the wall. A bit of a header on port half way down the beat and 54 and 80 tacked left for a distance and then back on to port down the middle. The middle seemed a good place to be. Z77 and 67 hard out to the right, and 69 and 77 to the left were losing ground. 54 extending on 80, and 77, giving up early on the left hand side, closed on 80 to cause some distraction. By Liningtons 54 had half a dozen boat lengths clear, with 80 and 77 behind, and the rest of the fleet close. The gusty breeze had a surprise for 69 just after the mark, pushing her into an unexpected broach, quickly recovered.

Places basically unchanged at BT. One beat to SS to go. Most of the fleet off on Port, down the tide again, trying to judge where the corner was for a tack to SS. Z54 covering, Z80 holding second. Z54 tacks for the buoy, still some 3/4 mile away, looking good. Z69 has gone early however. Up the middle. Z54 watching closely. Are the lifts going to get him to the line first. Looking ok for 54, but 80 is a little further to windward and at risk. Z54 across the line first, the oldest boat of the night still has some legs, but Z69 is second, a great recovery, leaving Z80 with the third gun, a few seconds and 66 years behind!

Honourable mention for Z9, great to see them making progress on a breezy night (but despite the number the boat is a relative youngster), and many thanks to hardworking Mike and our third generation Victory sailor Vicky Metcalf on 54 for the effort ( I won’t mention your age!)

Photo: ©Chris Smith

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Race report for Tuesday 25th April 2023, Tuesday Shield Race 3/6; John Hartley Z68

Seven Victories and their crews gathered on a rather chilly evening at the committee boat which was anchored adjacent to the Portsmouth Sailing Club mark. The breeze was fairly steady from the South South East at about 10 knots, a weak tide on the turn and beginning to set to the east. Geoff Dixon was the evening’s race officer, ably assisted by Liz Ballard. The course was set: starting at PSC, Gleeds to port, PSC to starboard, KB to starboard, finish at PSC line, nice and simple

Starting signals commenced and the fleet gathered at the committee boat end of the line. Z68 came in on port and tacked under Z74 and Z80 with 30 seconds to go, gathering some speed we were more than grateful when a second sound signal followed the start as both Z74 & Z80 were clearly over the line. They returned to restart and we then had clear air for the long beat to Gleeds. Concentrating on both boat speed and pointing Z68 gradually gained on those who were making a long starboard tack to the left-hand side of the track. Two boats Z75 & Z80 had gone the other way with a long port tack. On coming together at the windward mark, it was Z75 who had gained most and rounded first, followed by Z68 and then closely by Z80 (who had started last), then Z74, Z78, Z54 and Z70. Then a long run back to PSC with little if any place changes, short beat to KB and a run to the finish line. Another good win for Z75 followed by Z80, Z68 just holding off Z74, then Z78, Z70 and Z54, Z70 having sneaked past Z54 as they made a rather slow rounding of PSC. Most of us held our spinnakers along the wall and into the harbour against the ebbing tide, keen to get in out of the cold and looking forward to the warmth, beer and usual debrief in the sailing club. Many thanks to Geoff and Liz for an enjoyable race.


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Fresh: Race report for Thursday 20th April

Sometimes its hard to trust the weather forecast. Why for example is the wind forecast to increase to gusting 26 knots, just for the hour when we are to go racing on a Thursday night…nah! not going to happen. So why when we turn the corner at Blockhouse are there only two other Victorys to join us, Z69 and Z74. Why is Sapristi pitching and rolling and struggling to lay a line at KB… and now you come to mention it, it does seem a bit fresh….

Thursday’s race took place in a very brisk North Easterly, which initially caused the first starting sequence to be aborted as the breeze shifted east with a couple of minutes to go. With the course amended to Suffolk Sails – PSC (x 4) to allow for the delay and the early sunset at 20:07, the three intrepid (or foolhardy) competitors set off up the beat to SS. It was conditions to focus the mind, especially if you were at the front catching the waves. To their surprise, Z54 seemed to pick the right lines and squeeze up on a lift to perfectly lay SS ahead of Z74 and Z69, whose earlier track inshore had not paid. Around SS some rare caution was applied on 54, with the jib goosewinged and no kite in the strong gusts on the very shy dead downwind leg to PSC. Behind, Z74 fought to get a kite up and under control, and 69 also hoisted, all be it some lengths further back. Second surprise of the night, as caution paid, and 54 was able to exercise more control to pick the line dead downwind to best advantage and with control, with enough breeze to overcome the extra sail area advantage on the boats astern. At PSC 54 still had the lead, and there was a repeat of the beat to SS, with 54 holding her position, 74 following and 69 closing the gap. At SS the breeze briefly eased, Z54 first round again ahead of 74 and 69, and this time all boats hoisted kites. The breeze returned, 54 dropped early again to exercise some control into PSC, and rounded just ahead of the chasing boats, but the gap had closed! 74 fell off into 54’s dirty breeze, and freed to start powering through her lee, while 69 held up on the windward quarter trying to gain control. The VHF delivered the shortened course call, final leg, and 74 seized a chance, tacking first for the line. 54 and 69 fatally delayed, and as the wind headed on the starboard tack to PSC Z74 powered out from under the other boats, sailing round the inside of ‘the curve’ as the wind headed, and made it to the line 7 seconds ahead of 54, with 69 a further few seconds back.

Congratulations again to Tom and the Peregrine team, a short but hard race. Thanks to Munch and Jim and Liz, a tricky OOD duty, and thanks to Z54’s crew, Mike and Vicky, who found themselves having to work rather harder then expected! As a reward, the return to the harbour came with lots of cold rain, to wash away the salt and send everyone ashore feeling fresh and happy! ☹.

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Singing in the Rain - Race report for Thursday 14th April

Having been deprived of the first race of the season on Tuesday, an enthusiastic group of Victory sailors gathered around Sapristi in the Camber on Thursday evening ready for the Taylor Trophy. The rain poured down. It poured down on the moorings. It poured down as we left the harbour. Then it changed to heavy hail in the gusts as we proceeded up the Hasler Wall while the temperature settled at a balmy 7 degrees. We had the wooden boat, we had the deluge, all we needed now was a bunch of animals turning up two by two…. instead, out of the murk we found Liz and Sid, with Sapristi, at KB racing mark with a course to BT, back to KB, twice.

The rain stopped, the gusts eased a little, and overcome with enthusiasm (or perhaps keen to get it over with) the 5 boats rushed for the line as the countdown neared zero. Rather too early in most cases, and in the melee as boats tried to slow and duck back, Z69 rather underestimated the length of Z74 and a collision occurred. With 69 shaping up for a penalty turn, and 74 OCS, the way was clear for Z54 and Z80 to make a slightly better timed crossing of the line on the gun at the committee boat end. Still quite breezy, and the extra crew weight in 54 (sorry boys) was useful in allowing her to squeeze 80 into an early tack onto port, while Z78 pushed out to leeward of the pair, and 74 followed some lengths back having restarted. Z69, probably wisely, headed back to the warm and dry.

Out into the west going tide and 54 was first around the windward mark, with 78 close behind and 80 and 74 fighting at the back. Down the run, and Z54 first around KB to port, which was a pity, as it had to be rounded to starboard. In the subsequent unwinding 54 shifted neatly from 1st to last, leaving 78, 74 and 80 in the first 3 positions. The second beat to BT saw Z78 and Z74 fight it out, with 74 having the lead after rounding BT and holding it down the run to the finish. Z80 tacked too early for the wall, allowing 54 to grab some tidal advantage and recover one place on the beat.

At the finish, 1st Z74, (sounds familiar) Z78, Z54, Z80. Well done to Tom, Duncan and Carole for getting the first trophy of the season, and thanks to Sid and Liz for braving the weather (although we did notice who stayed in the dry in the wheelhouse!)

No one was singing…..although there may have been a happy hum from Peregrine on the way home….

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