South Ionian 4 day Rally 2011
Our new friends Walter and Margaret on Lady De Vie mentioned we should enter the 4 day South Ionian Sailing Rally organised by Vliho Yacht Club. Jim after a lot of thought gave in and we signed up on the Friday before the racing started on Monday, 12th September. We did have some worries such as the sailing flotilla’s without a lot of experience taking part, rafting up in large groups and being new comers to the Ionian perhaps not having enough experience of the area as there are quite a number of unchartered waters. Having decided lets go for it as we would meet new people and it could be fun we phoned Graham and he was straight away rearranging his following work week and booking a flight to Corfu for Sunday.
We hired a car and met him at Igoumenitsa when he stepped off the ferry from Corfu. We made straight to a tavern overlooking the water for lunch before driving down the beautiful coast line to Nidri stopping for a long swim to cool down. In order for him to experience the wonderful scenery from the mountains we drove up to a lovely restaurant overlooking Tranquil Bay for dinner. The race team for the next 4 day challenge was now complete.
Ariel is our home so as you can imagine we are full of all sorts such as bikes, books, clothes, dinghy and not an empty racing boat or a flotilla boat without any extras. We entered with thoughts of we won’t stress and just do the best we can!!!!!!!
Day 1 Poros to Kaskos 18.75 miles 12th September, 2011.
Race 1. Contrary to all the talk about previous events and being becalmed we had good constant breeze. Fast close reaching and downwind running to the southern tip of Kastos Island. Ariel and Orkney Rose built up a commanding lead. Once around the southern tip of Kastos a jibe and then a close reach blast for the four miles to the finish in 17/18 knots of wind and 9 plus knots of boat speed. We were close enough to Orkney Rose a Danish X43 racing yacht to knock her into 2nd place. 1st place in class 1 was well earned and we were all thrilled.
We celebrated once anchored and after a swim at the windmill tavern with a well deserved cold beer before meeting up at the Belos tavern for dinner and the results.
Day 2 Nisos Formikoula to Little Vathi 11.59 miles 13th September, 2011.
Race 2. The start was from a beautiful small island to the south of Kalomos. The wind was light but it filled nicely to about 10-12 knots all the way across to Meganisi. Then we spotted a large windless hole developing. Orkney Rose and Jungle sailed straight into it. We headed south to a new wind on the Meganisi coast. We sailed into the lead for a while but eventually in light air off the north coast of Meganissi Orkney Rose and Jungle, a J24 stripped out racing yacht overtook us and we finished in 3rd place.
We pulled into Little Vathi and found the Karnagio Taverna where we were able to moor on their quay and pick up lazy lines and have water available. The taverna served beautiful food and the next morning Graham and I walked into town to collect some shopping. We were pleased to see everyone was filling up on water!!!!!
Day 3. Little Vathi to Dessimi Bay 23.7 miles 14th September, 2011.
Race 3. The course was a big loop from the south to the north and back south. We avoided a big windless hole on the route north that caught some of the fleet but they recovered and we turned at the northern mark close on top of Orkney Rose. Soon after heading south the whole fleet except Orkney Rose were becalmed, Orkney Rose with her Kevlar/carbon mix racing sails escaped into a line of new breeze south. We headed east after seeing “Lone Shark”, a Sadler 45 Barracuda with new wind on the Greek mainland coast. We escaped in the new breeze south and tacked numerous times along the 14 miles south coast to Dessimi Bay. We ended 3rd behind Orkney Rose and Lone Shark. A very creditable 3rd place.
We rafted up in the bay and swam as soon as possible to cool down. The Pirofani tavern provided a BBQ which was delicious and we were made very welcome.
Day 4. Regatta Day – Meganisi Channel to Sivota leaving Arkoudi to starboard 17 miles 15th September, 2011.
We started the day in an overall position of 2nd. We shadowed Lone Shark at the start on a much more crowded day, around 170 boats take part on Regatta day. Lone Shark got blocked at the start and we had a flyer for 7 or 8 miles and we were in 1st place. Orkney Rose managed to catch us along with Lone Shark with their racing design managed to pull ahead. The wind became stronger 22-23 knots as we approached Arkoudi so we reefed the main and the headsail but we were still flying at 8-9 knots. It was a big boat day. We tacked to the south of Arkoudi and once past the island the course freed and we close reached and reached at 9+ knots to the finish. We held onto 1st place overall in the 4 day rally with a 3rd place finish in our class for the regatta.
At the brilliant party in the evening we received our prizes for being the overall winners in Class 1 for the 4 day rally and a certificate for 3rd in our class for Regatta day. Although we were the first live a board boat home on Regatta day and our team of Orkney Rose who was first over the line, Lady de Vie who were 1st overall in class 2 were the rightful winners of the team event we somehow didn’t get presented with them. Not sure they were happy with Orkney Rose and Ariel being newcomers and Lady de Vie entering for the second time winning so many prizes!!!!
Joking apart Vliho Yacht Club with Ruairi Bradley, his wife Vicky, Debbie who was out on the water with only six weeks to her baby arrivesand the group of very hard working committee members who organise this event do a fabulous job and everyone we met were full of praise for the three main players who worked nonstop to make the four days a wonderful rally.