The RORC Cowes-Dinard-St Malo race was remarkable this year as 126 boats had entered but less than 50 boats completed this long-held traditional 164-mile race to St Malo. With strong winds, owners and skippers had to decide whether or not to start, and only 75 came to the RYS start line.The multihull starters were Bill Foster's 43ft Owen Clarke trimaran SPIRIT, Richard Roscoe's Farrier F-9AX TRIOHE, Mike Millerchip's Phaeton 33 catamaran GINKAS.
The fleet were set away with the smallest boats first, with the multihulls starting last at 12.40. Only three multihulls started, SPIRIT, TRIOHE, and GINKAS. The fleet started to the west with a spring tide flowing against 30 knots of wind from 240 degrees. TRIOHE won the start at the Squadron end as the 43' tri SPIRIT lost time tacking onto port and took a few minutes to reel in GINKAS. SPIRIT was not able to sail as high as TRIOHE and despite more speed through the water SPIRIT dropped back. Several of the monohull fleet were heading back with sail damage including Nigel Musto sailing a Farr 52 and VENOM a Volvo 60. INNOVATION KVAERNER another Volvo 60 was struggling with a number 3 jib streaming behind the boat.
Damaged sails, rig problems and mal de mer were all taking their toll, and boats were reporting 30 knots in the Solent. After Hurst Point TRIOHE chose to head out via the North passage in the shelter of the Shingles Bank rather risk the extra favourable tide but severe wave jumping conditions of the Needles Channel. SPIRIT did tack down the Needles Channel struggling with three-point-turn sternboards on each tack in the lumpy seas. The crew of the 33' catamaran GINKAS decided to retire at this stage.
TRIOHE continued on port until near Hengistbury Head before a long starboard tack south as TRIOHE bucked and slammed in the horrible confused breaking seas. When venturing down below crew were defying gravity as they became weightless heading towards the cabin ceiling as the wonderfully robustly-built boat launched off wave tops. INNOVATION KVAERNER under storm jib and reefed mainsail slowly overhauled TRIOHE and some boats reported up to 40 knots of wind as they crossed the Channel heading for the Casquet Lighthouse to the west of Alderney.
As darkness fell, the east-going tide made the breaking seas less severe but the spring tide was setting TRIOHE down to the east of Cap de la Hague so a port tack was tried but after two hours progress, only five miles over the ground had been gained. At this point SPIRIT struggling to make progress to the west retired to Cherbourg at 0200. TRIOHE continuing south now with a lee bow lift from the west going tide rounded Casquets at 0100 in moonlight in large confused breaking seas and held hard on starboard tack, rounding Les Hanois Lighthouse on Guernsey at 0300.
Finally after over 14 hours of beating into thirty knots of wind, sheets were eased for the final 50 miles, as the first signs of daylight came the two reefs were shaken out of the mainsail and TRIOHE charged on at 15 knots, peaking at 20 knots as she overtook the Volvo 60 INNOVATION KVAERNER and crossing the line at 0717 to be second boat to finish 32 minutes behind the Farr 45 BOUNDER of RORC Commodore Chris Little.
PROVISIONAL RESULTS MULTIHULL CLASS RORC COWES - ST MALO RACE
1st TRIOHE, Farrier F-9AX, 18:37:12 elapsed, Richard Roscoe, George Stead, Simon Forbes
Ret. SPIRIT, Owen Clarke 43ft tri ˆ Bill Foster, Pierre Antoine, Brian Wilkinson
Ret. GINKAS, Phaeton 33 cat ˆMike Millerchip, Ken Bone, Mike Barnsley, John Hurst.
TRIOHE was crewd by owner and builder Richard Roscoe, George Stead (builder of numerous racing yachts in the1970s and 80s) and Simon Forbes, a Dragonfly 800 owner. Richard writes:
TRIOHE behaved perfectly in the high winds and seas, never missing a tack even when we had to choose the moment when we could do it while dodging round a breaker. We were helped by having a VOLVO 60's stern light to steer on during the night, sailing no higher than us, but it was a bit more difficult after we had passed her! We had no breakages, and not even any exciting moments that I can recall. We seem to be able to hold quite big monos on the wind when it is blowing hard, as although they point higher, they make much more leeway.