A look back at Sunsail’s summer of sailing at the LVACWS Portsmouth, Cowes Week and Southampton Boat Show 2016
Well, what a summer it was, for both UK sailing and Sunsail. Let’s take a little look back at some of the highlights.
The season kicked off with a flourish back in July, when the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series came to Portsmouth and we all crossed our fingers for good weather and fine sailing conditions. Sunsail were proud being the official Sailing Charter Partner of this flagship Solent racing event, reflecting our position as the Solent’s charter company of choice.
Our prayers were rewarded with three full days of racing. Baking hot sunshine and just enough wind on the Friday and Saturday welcomed the thousands of people in Southsea who had turned out to watch sailing’s fastest one design fleet streak around the race course in a collaboration of skill and cutting edge technology. These boats really are sailing’s answer to Formula 1.
A great advert for the sport, the event came to a head on ‘Super Sunday’, where stronger breezes saw the hydrofoils come into play, as the ACWS 45s lifted out of the water and flew around the course.
Four of Sunsail’s F40 cruiser-racers acted as stake boats over the weekend and offered great views of the action as home team Land Rover BAR clinched the regatta by a point in a dramatic final race, for their second successive victory in Portsmouth.
Sunsail also had a stand in the well-organised Race Village, where we decided to have a little fun.
Inspired by sailing charity UKSA and the American Boy Scouts movement, we turned up with our very own hand-built gutter boat racing stand, and offered up a free holiday for the person with the most puff, able to set the fastest time across the three days.
Competitive spirits came to the fore and good fun was had by all. In the fierce heat of the race, several competitors put it all on the line, occasionally spilling water from the gutters and on to the floor in the pursuit of victory.
The LVACWS Portsmouth was a huge success, and we can’t wait for the cup proper next year. In the meantime, it looks like gutter boat racing is here to stay.
We’re long-time supporters and partners of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week here at Sunsail, and decided to pull out all of the stops in 2016. Again blessed with champagne sailing conditions all week, we set about having our best Cowes Week yet.
Our matched fleet of Beneteau F40s once again entered their own one design class, leading to some exciting close racing.
In the end, team Cyber Ark found some consistency and winning form toward the back end of the week to post a flurry of bullets and bring home the trophy
Elsewhere, we teamed up with Fever Tree Mixers to load the Sunsail RIB with G&Ts, and got out on the water to give weary sailors a deserved pick-me-up as they crossed the line.
We also ran a daily prize draw for a place on the RIB to go out and see the racing up close, giving both experienced yachties and curious newbies the chance of a free thrill ride and a front row seat to some of the best sailing in the Solent.
We took over the Cowes Yacht Haven in the heart of the race village, with a balcony setting ideal for daily prize giving presentations and parties.
In celebration of Ladies Day, Sunsail ambassador Dee Caffari MBE and our Chief Instructor Karen Rawson took Emma Bamford from Sailing Today, Sian Lewis of ‘Girl Outdoors’ fame, lifestyle blogger Charlotte Fisher and some friends from the Tahitian Tourist Board and Air Tahiti Nui out racing as part of an all-female crew. The party continued off the water at the Sunsail Ladies Day Drinks Party, held in the Yacht Haven…
On the Thursday, the Spanish Tourist Board helped us mark the expansion of our Mallorca base by throwing a party in our corporate event space in the Cowes Yacht Haven, serving G&Ts with a Spanish twist and tapas so delectable the servers barely made it two steps before they were besieged by hungry sailors.
Our Port Solent base also celebrated hosting their 500,000th sailor during Cowes Week, with a prize giving attended by the British Marine Foundation, as well as double Paralympic medallist and Sunsail ambassador, Helena Lucas MBE.
On the last day of August the Sunsail UK Marketing Team abandoned the office in the middle of the afternoon and headed for Dover, where we met up with some of our professional skippers from the Portsmouth base and two of our Sunsail F40s.
The objective was to sail east through the night, round the coast and up the River Thames to Limehouse Docks, London, so that the boats could be made ready to take part in Sail 4 Cancer’s Boat Vs Boot vs Bike competition.
Given the good cause and the potentially challenging nature of a night passage in the North Sea, the team decided to do some fundraising, and managed to raise hundreds of pounds for Sail4Cancer.
Waiting for favourable tide over a plate of nachos, we were then fully fortified by a huge pot of Spaghetti Bolognese on board (beloved of offshore sailors across the years).
We set off under cover of darkness and the Surbiton team were handed the reins by the pro crew, who were happy to keep a weather eye out, while we got to grips with night-time navigation.
With the exception of the author putting in an accidental 180 degree turn when first taking the helm (night vision still adjusting!), the first few hours made for pretty plain sailing.
With around 10-15 knots behind us we worked our way round to the Margate Sands. Here, we became a little exposed to the capricious potential of the North Sea, and as the wind picked up and veered more on to the beam, we began to pitch and slam, much to the dismay of the off watch.
Still at the helm, the author sent sincere apologies to the crew of said off watch as they were tossed airborne a number of times. They were probably quite alarmed when some fairly urgent gybing became necessary to steer clear of some rather large shipping that loomed suddenly out of the dark.
As we entered the Thames estuary, things quietened down – and although it now grew a little colder with the wind on the nose, we slowly but surely made our way up into the river, past various landmarks to Limehouse Basin, where, with tired eyes and 5 o’clock shadows, we locked in and sought out a well-earned breakfast as quickly as weary legs would allow.
Ok, so September is technically autumn, but the weather was OK, and all in all we had an amazing Southampton Boat Show 2016.
Our brand-new stand looked and worked great thanks to designers Nimlok, and we packed in more events than usual with our ambassador Dee Caffari MBE launching our brand new brochure for 2017 at our press conference, live Q&A sessions with Chris Rees of Southampton Sailing Week, future Vendee Globe talent Conrad Manning and our ambassador, double Paralympic medallist Helena Lucas MBE, Emma Bamford the Deputy Editor of Sailing Today and Olympic Gold medallist Sarah Ayton OBE and our very own Head of UK Sailing Schools Louise Williams. A few of our VIP guests even tried their hand at some intensely competitive gutter boat racing too.
There were also visits from Tinwood Estate, and The Bahamas and BVI Tourist Boards. It was great to see the show the busiest it’s been for years, and we are really glad that out new 2017 holiday brochure was so well received.
All in all it was a busy and productive summer of celebrating UK sailing. We hope you will come to the London Boat Show in January and watch this space, as we’re planning a whole lot more fun throughout next year, too.
If you need us in the meantime, we’ll be bobbing up and down somewhere in the Caribbean or the Exotics and we hope you will be too.