The all comers Centenary Bowl at Aldeburgh Yacht Club is a legendary trophy.
The trophy is awarded after a race which must be “challenging” and the winner must “fill the bowl with brandy until the fellow members are satisfied, otherwise they will be disqualified” .
Sounds like my sort of trophy! Open to dinghies, keelboats and cruisers. The starts are split into fleets, dinghies first then the keelboats then the yachts / cruisers. Sailing on the tumlare ‘Zest’ we were last start and the only yacht taking part. After a rockstar ship to ship transfer of crew we were ready.
A good 16 knot breeze and string Ebb holding the fleet of the line.
Course was up river to C, B, S, B, S, Q, M x 2. Got that? Well if you are a regular at AYC or you have the club marks chart you are good to go… Basically a very short downwind start (to short to kite), then a beat to C then a hoist of kite, then a drop, short beat, short run, short beat, longer run, fetch, hoist x 2. I think all I know it’s that the kite went up and down a lot, that’s alot of work for two crew on a 28 ft yacht, just enough time to pack the kite before it went up again.
So challenging course? Yes the crews on the spinnaker boats had their work cut out.
Zest caught the tail end of the loch long fleet and were going quite nicely, catching up the tail of the dragons (that is very unusual). As we ran down river back towards the club (mark Q) the team dropped the kite to fetch up to M (Martello). In all the excitement of dropping the kite the team failed to round Q, actually they made no effort to round it. Yes I know another navigation error! Realising their mistake quickly they ran back down to Q to round and headed to Martello. Was that going to be the mistake that cost the Centenary Bowl, the lead flying fifteen and K6 were along way ahead.
Second lap, more of the same. Hoist, drop, hoist, drop, wait…. Hoist, drop. No mistakes this lap and with the course shortened at Q the team finished, 2 hours of racing, 7 kite hoists and drops, three men. Yep that was a challenging days racing.
Waiting for results, always entertaining, you know you’ve sailed well, but one mistake and your of the podium. Fifth… Flying fifteen, oh dear we didn’t make fifth hmmm maybe we did better? Fourth laser, ooooo, maybe we snuck the podium?
Third, loch long. Damnit first lose again? Second, loch long. Oh well the navigation error cost us more than we thought.
Hang on, the commodore just said first place Zest… That’s us, blimey! Crikey that is a big bowl to fill with brandy (6 bottles apparently!).
Another great days racing at Aldeburgh Yacht Club and yes I did make it home, after a small slurp of victory brandy!