Scarborough Yacht Club’s North Sea race, sponsored by Boyes, for good value! started in a blaze of publicity, with the pre-race weather forecast given by Look North ‘weather man’, Paul Hudson and the start its self going out live on the program but what a unavoidable disappointment it must have been to the viewers, with only tide induced wind to sail over the start line, round the turning mark and out to sea, all at a snail’s pace!
Magnum, an SJ 35 were first to round electing to hoist their green spinnaker we were second of a large group, the question now was a tactical one, do you go out to sea looking for wind or recognise the fact you would not beat the tidal gate at Flamborough Head. Magnam headed off in a north easterly direction and we elected to take the inshore route and spent the night at anchor somewhere off Holbeck, with Dash inside of us and Vado not far away. We watch others as they drifted backwards out of sight.
We weighed anchor at the first opportunity and hoisted the spinnaker, looking backwards as Dash belatedly did the same. Off Flamborough the wind died once again but this time with the help of the tide, we managed to keep moving. The wind was very fickle, as we worked hard changing from symmetric to asymmetric and white sail whenever the situation required. We sailed in and out of fog banks, avoiding the many rigs.
We had just crossed Off Brown Ridge TSS and had been closing the gap on Magnum, who had been in view for most of the day, when the wind once again died and being in danger of been sweep back into the TSS we decided to anchor in 32metres, surprisingly successfully, until the wind picked up, Magnum sailed on and it took us half an hour to retrieve the anchor, by which time she was out of sight. The wind died once again as we drifted around, surrounded by offshore platforms.
We could see a few other boats away behind in the distance and heard their messages of retirement on the VHF and then saw them motoring past. We pressed on but once again came becalmed and after a short discussion decided to announce our retirement. We were thirty miles from the finish and with hindsight we could have finished, we had sailed 175 miles at an average of 2.75 knots. We passed Magnum as we reached the Dutch wind farm and to their credit they were still sailing and went on to win the race. Blue Velvet, a Sigma 35 was the only other finisher and credit must also go to them.
After a few beers in the local bars and a good night’s sleep we left Ijmuiden the following day and sailed or motor sailed back to Scarborough, amazed by about fifteen sightings of minke whales off Flamborough Head.