A sail and awe post.
The south coast 100 mile race (SC100).
Rules of engagement.
Several people have commented on my idea for a sailing event in British waters similar to the Everglades Challenge in Florida USA , either through my blog or when i floated the idea on social media and most people seem to like the idea. For an inaugural event i thought that a one hundred mile race had a nice ring to it , long enough to be more that just another day race and still do-able by most small boats in a weekend. I did also get some questions about the conduct of the race, the race rules if you like and also whether there were other places that i would consider holding a similar event…the UK east coast was one and perhaps somewhere around the Thames estuary. I started to look at that one with my set of Kent, Essex and Suffolk charts all laid out and i can see some interesting possibilities so lets say that’s a work in progress. For this post though i just want to concentrate on creating a set of rules and principles for the ethos of the event.
Rule No 1 then and ‘Bring a boat’….it’s super-useful !
So here goes…..my vision for this kind of event in UK waters is that it’s a small craft challenge along the same lines as the Watertribe events in the USA, that is to promote small craft seamanship and adventure style racing for boats that have to be launched off a beach and then either sail or use human power to make distance down the course. Here, sail is simply sail but if you want to rig something like a kite to pull you along then all well and good..although please be aware of the pylons in the Tamar (if we go there) and by human power i mean paddles, oars, sweeps, yuloh’s or those underwater waggly -boards that seem to work like penguin flippers….oh and if you want to pull your boat along a tow path or beach then that’s fine too. Really all i am excluding here is any form of motor driven by combustible fuel or electricity. I note that the Everglades Challenge does now have a class for electric craft and all well and good for a 300 mile event but i don’t think that we should go down that route yet.
The limitation that i’m setting here is that the boat has to be launched from off a beach and above the high water tide mark and not by using a trolley or trailer, that probably does limit the size and weight of the boat just as it does in the Everglades Challenge although having said that iv’e seen some relatively heavy boats sail the race : the Pathfinder dinghy for example is quoted in the designers notes as being 220 Kg dry and i suspect that some of the boats are even heavier. The practical limit seems to be around 17-18 feet in length and that’s fully consistent with the largest cruising and racing dinghy’s in the UK and i think the same with small ‘beach’ multihulls. I just want to add here that the race would also be open to canoes and kayaks so if you wanted to turn up in a long slim needle of a tandem sea kayak then that’s fine and dandy too.
One specific question that came in was whether this would be a strictly solo event or solo and 2 handed allowed, i think it would be a lot more enjoyable to do it 2-up just like the Everglades Challenge which allows both and many of the boats that this would suit are 2 man (person-thing-whatever) anyway so solo or 2 up it is.
Now, in terms of a race then it should be obvious that an 18 foot multihull in a breeze is going to be a lot quicker than a doggy Drascombe say even though i hope the drastic Drascombe drivers turn up and plod around the course, but it does sort-of suggest that we need a monohull class and a multihull class just in the sailing classes and maybe an overall time over distance handicap rating as well as a first over the line kind of prize : therefore i suggest adopting a simple handicap or yardstick such as the well known Portsmouth Yardstick rating/handicap number.
Osprey racing dinghy at 17 feet and small change….ideal ! (Gavin Print photograph)
What i don’t want to do is create any arbitrary rule about the style or type of boat except that it has to be a seaworthy boat , in good to excellent order and prepared to a very high standard that has good chance of completing the challenge in normal expected conditions. I think at first that i would ask for a self declaration of both competence and preparation from the skipper and crew although i can see why the Watertribe crew insist on a pre-race inspection of the boat and it’s essential equipment. This is where it gets a bit messy and sticky for me because i’m fundamentally opposed to creating a situation where one piece of equipment or other becomes a filter or exclusion to a boat and crew racing. Thus i would insist on the boat having positive buoyancy and i would absolutely insist on the crew having buoyancy aids at minimum and a demonstrably effective means (ideally 2 means) of summoning assistance although in British waters i don’t see why that would have to be a satellite based communications system : rather that if a crew had a GPS radio and a mobile phone then that would be fine in most coastal situations on the UK south coast.
In the next post i’m going to take a similar look at the human element , skipper and crew and some ways in which it might be possible to determine fitness and competency for the race.