Final update from Rally Portugal

Simon Ridley
Fri 29 Jun 2007 21:49
37:06.56N 8:40.45W

Rally Portugal Update - Final instalment

The sail down from Sines to Lagos on Monday was perhaps the most exciting leg of the rally (leaving aside the Biscay crossing). Once again a start line which most of the participants had waited for - although some left early - which was crossed in true racing fashion by Gertha.

Winds were initially light and this suited us very well, as we managed 5 or 6 knots when others in the fleet were struggling. For the first four hours or so our cruising chute served us well, and we had a long "battle" with RockStar who were flying a rather under-sized (their own desription) spinnaker. In an effort to get the edge we decided to jettison any unneccessary weight, an exercise which saw the Skipper lobbing apples and bananas in RockStar's direction! Very amusing moment. The wind moved round a little further behind and we decided to be bold and break open the brand new, not even out of its wrapping, spinnaker, as RockStar finally got the edge and overtook us. If this sounds like an exciting manoeuvre, it took a good hour and a half as we were neck and neck for 5 hours.

It took us about an hour to "master" the new spinnaker, by which time we'd lost around half a mile to the Irish boat, and we were actually catching them up again, slowly. The wind by this point was 2-3 knots stronger which favoured them, being longer and heavier, but still we continued to close the gap.Then came the deciding moment, rounding Cape St Vincent (Cape Trafalgar to us Brits).

The wind initially disappeared, as we'd expected, so down came the kite and up went the assymetric again (hard work being deck-hand on Gertha!), then suddenly the wind increased to around 20 knots and we had far too much up in the air. The Genoa was still on deck from before but the wind dictated we move to the self-tacking Jib. This required removing the Genoa and inner forestay before we could effect this sail change. Even more foredeck work for me!

By this time good old RockStar were back in a commanding lead of something over half a mile, and the gap stayed about the same for the last 15 miles round to Lagos.

All in all a very exciting sail which involved downwind and upwind sailing in variable winds with fine weather, what an end to this rally. We arrived in Lagos at 17.40, having started at 07.00. and having covered around 75 miles.

An impromptu party started at the official rally portugal driks reception, which saw everyone in the fleet in really high spirits after such a magnificent days sailing. One of the crew from Dawn Strider set a minor record for drinking four Long Island Iced Teas without falling over - well done Lady Jane!!

The following night saw the official reception and prizegiving, which was yet another great spread - well done World Cruising. Another great party with the crews showing their appreciation for this great trip. Gertha officially came second in Class A for the last leg, and won the overall prize for the most sailing and least motoring done in the whole rally, something of which the skipper was rightly very proud. All of the participants came away with prizes for various outstanding achievements throughout the voyage. Pictures on Rally Portugal web-site.

Since arriving I played two fantastic golf courses, Palmares which is literally 3 miles from Lagos, and Penina which is a Henry Cotton designed championship course, lovely.

I am sure I have omitted lots of interesting things from this diary these last three weeks but hope mine and the skipper's contributions have been informative and reasonably interesting to anyone who is reading.