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!
Posts by Geoff Dixon
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.
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
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.
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!
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……..
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
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.
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! ☹.
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….
Great to see an appropriate 11 boats on moorings, all keen, rigged and ready to race for the first race of the season and the Taylor Trophy yesterday Tuesday 11th April…...
.....only the weather had other ideas of course! We will try again on Thursday, the Victory Class are all fired up and ready to go….
Although it was not intended that way, Friday saw the last race of the season sprint up and down the Haslar Wall for 45 minutes, before the rapidly approaching sunset and indeed the whole of the rest of the winter sent the Victory Class home to the bar for the last time in 2022. This 68th race of the season was to be the last, as the following morning the weather led to the cancellation of the last race of the last Saturday series, contributing one more cancellation to a season that saw a total of 21 scheduled races lost.
Even at this late stage there was plenty to play for with both the Friday Candlelight series to be won (with Z80, Z78 and Z54 in contention) and the overall Candlelight/ Twilight Series (Eric Davey trophy) to be completed. It must be said that Z78, Jim and Lelde, were looking fairly comfortable in both, but no one was going to make it easy….
Five boats came to the line, Z80, Z78, Z75, Z70 and Z54. Everyone with something to play for on the night. We had to play quickly, with sunset at 18:14 there was no time to hang around. The gate boat needs to set a course… its all very quiet… its still very quiet… its getting late…. Hey MC… did anyone mention… no one mentioned?...... Its YOU!
A flurry of activity from Matt and MC and Z70 set KB – BT – KB – BT – SS – PSC -SS. Z70 charged down the line post haste from KB, with Z80 (Russell and Martyn) and Z78 first through the gate and out into the changing east going tide, followed by Z54 (Geoff, Chris and Heather) to windward and Z75 (Sid and Clive) behind. Z80 and Z78 first to tack to the right, Z54 pinned down below Z75 and Z70, until in desperation 54 threaded the needle to go right, across the front of 75 and a sharp (very!) duck behind 70. Z80 into the mark first, followed by Z78. MC holding great pace to windward got Z70 around BT before Z54, and down the run we went to KB… Z80 with the lead, Z70 still running hot downwind to be third behind Z78, Z54 and Z75 behind.
The second beat saw little change, except an early tack to the right and bit of a shift lifted Z54 above Z70. As the run to SS started Z80 had control, followed by 78, 54, 70 and 75. Winter was coming however, the skies were darkening, and Matt and MC called the shortened course at SS. Z80 had the win, but Jim and Lelde in Z78 had done enough, and the Candlelight trophy and the Eric Davey were theirs! Z80 and Z75 respectively had the 2nd places, and Z54 the 3rds
On Z54, having completed their 49th race of the season, the crew felt a little weary, and wondered how many calories there were in 49 bars of chocolate, while the helm contemplated the end of his 40th Victory season and just felt old…..
The clouds cleared, the sun dropped below the horizon and our return to the harbour was accompanied by a spectacular autumn sunset. A pity it was all over for 2022… All good things come to an end.