UK-Cherub Class

Get Your Heart Racing

Round Cumbraes 2005

by Carol Low

The last weekend in August is always the weekend that Phil and I trail Primal Scream to Largs and compete in Cumbraes regatta. The Saturday is pretty normal with two or three races “round the cans” in Largs channel, however on the Sunday there is what is arguably the best race of the season round Cumbrae. Where anything from 50 foot yachts to toppers compete and sail round the island which is 3 miles wide and 4 miles long and plus a few bouys which probably make the course about 20 miles.

Most of last season was spent sailing in reasonably light winds, which was good in some ways and gave me the opportunity to get used to sailing the new cherub (and Phil used to helming from the wire). The Saturday of Cumbraes was similar to the rest of the year but we did have some good racing against a Vortex with an asymmetric.


The Sunday dawned with light winds and we thought it was simply going to be a repeat of last year's race where we sat on the bottom of the boat and struggled round. We started with a beat going south about and we were keeping up quite nicely with an RS200 (oh dear) with occasional marginal trapezing. However just before the mark the wind got up, got gusty and kept getting up we accelerated rather rapidly leaving the RS200 on the horizon and catching the vortex and a laser 4000.

As we bore away onto a white sail reach we picked up more speed, the spray got worse we could hardly see where we were heading. I have to say at this point I was getting a little scared, especially after all my mishaps sailing a cherub, ask Phil. By the time we reached the mark my heart was racing (see photos for evidence of fear). We rounded the mark and Phil suggested we put the kite up. I hesitated for a while then got into the middle of the boat to pull it up (sometimes I hate my job as crew, especially when you are tired and having to pull up the bigger kite becomes even harder work but up it went) and off we flew over to the Bute shore.

I’m sure everyone wondered where we were going, to be honest I think we were just putting off the gybe. Eventually we decided we should probably head for the mark at the top end of cumbraes. So it was time to execute the gybe that for a change went quite smoothly, we stayed upright, must be a first, back out on the wire.

I started to relax and enjoy myself, for what turned out to be the best sail in Primal (possibley even a cherub) yet. We flew down the back end of Cumbrae (hitting a maximum speed close to 18 knots) and on the way had to avoid a dive boat who all stared open mouthed as we went past them. The next thing was to attempt to get the kite down at the mark, usually not my favourite thing, I am frequently found crouched on the bottom of the boat, trying to catch my breath having winded myself. While complaining to Phil, “I feel sick now” oh well at least in this race I only had to do it once.


Then it was back to some white sail reaching going past some keelboats like they were standing still while the crews sat on the side wellyhanging and looking puzzled. I’m sure they were thinking that we were mad, and wondering “what the hell was that?” Then it was a torturous long beat to the finish in the large waves that had now formed in the channel, which was slightly difficult with the bigger sails but again we stayed upright. Still at a bit of a loss as to how, but we finished and got the boat ashore after one brief swim. Another problem we have been having with the new boat seems to be our ability to return to the slip after sailing. Taking the Centerboard out seems to result in a quick swim. When we got on shore and packed the boat away we went to look at the results and to our amazement not only had I had a great race but we had also won.

I have to say that to my surprise I have enjoyed sailing the 2005 rules cherub despite not being to keen on the rule changes to start with, going upwind with the bigger sails is fine it is the helm and crew that are the problem here. The big jib is easy enough to handle with a 4:1 jib sheet even though it is 5.3m2. My only issue with the boat now is the asymmetric, it is hard work pulling the rather large kite in and out of the bag. As I’m not that strong, and it frequently gets stuck especially on the way down and I feel sick after tugging away at the kite halyard to no avail. Phil is planning a new spinnaker chute, which I hope will help. I have to say I am enjoying sailing the boat but it does tire me out a lot especially in a race with lots of laps as I have to pull and lower the kite so many times and sometimes I have a bit of a sense of humour failure. Hopefully this year we will have as much fun with the boat, if any of you are interested in doing cumbraes this year. It is the weekend before the nationals, so if you were planning on spending the week at Largo Bay, it may be worth a detour to the west coast on the way up to join us on the Sunday for a sail around the Isle of Cumbrae, definitely highly recommended.

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