Counting down the days until Thursday, and we hear from Marion, Solent OGA Area Treasurer, that the hard-working Solent Committee members are due to leave various ports, including Boulogne, loaded up with office equipment including two computers. A pallet of skippers’ bags for distribution to over 200 registered vessels and a gazebo are all ready to go on the ferry, and there’s a collection of decorations stored safely in a garage at Cowes.
In preparation for this international event, there’s even a copy of ‘French for Cruisers’. Committee members’ boats will sailing to Cowes include:’Roma’ from the Hamble, ‘Susan J’ from Poole, ‘Betty 2’ from Keyhaven, ‘Gimli’ from Fareham, ‘Mary Ellen’ from Marchwood, ‘Equinox’ from Chichester and ‘Lone Wolf’ from Yarmouth. ‘East Breeze’ intends to spend the night at The Folly before heading to Cowes. ‘Toucando’ returns from her sojourn on the French coast, and makes landfall in Eastbourne, continuing westwards to meet fellow Committee members in Cowes.
We’re also hearing from people planning their journeys from other parts of the UK by car, campervan and rail to take the ferry to the island. Some are trailing boats and others bringing tents or taking advantage of the Isle of Wight hospitality in B&B and other rented accommodation. A small collection of East Coast smack boats are already joining other Eastcoasters in the River Medina. At the last count, over 1,000 people are registered with the event, with close to 250 boats. Watch Paul Brown’s excellent short video on YouTube.
There was a convivial atmosphere of anticipation and achievement on Thursday as OGA members converged on Cowes Yacht Haven, the primary venue for events, with additional berths made available at Shepards Wharf Marina. Friday was hosted by the East Coast OGA who ran a lively ‘fun’ regatta during the day with sculling, rowing and dinghy sailing races, ‘rubber flubber football’ and a dog show with competitions sponsored by Teamac followed by a display of fine racing yachts in the ‘klomp zeilwedstrijden’. The Dutch OGA provided each OGA Area with a kit containing a wooden clog and keel resulting in an amazing collection of fine quality vessels being constructed and displayed in front of the Events Office before embarking on the race in Cowes Yacht Haven. Super Saturday Race Day, sponsored by ABP dawned with strong winds in the forecast, but nevertheless 85 boats braved the challenging elements to cross the start line for an exciting spectacle of sailing gaffers stretched across the Solent. Sunday was time to say farewells, and included a presentation to OGA50 Round Britain Challenge skippers of personalised framed posters by Claudia Myatt with reflections from the President, Mike Shaw and singing from circumnavigators David and Else.