Dieppe Dash 2016 summary

For the sixth Dieppe Dash event, in the week before the event the organisers had concerns that the weather forecast suggested strong winds that might deter some participants, but also make starting the race of the event more difficult.

In the event, 38 boats entered although a number of boats withdrew even before the day of the event because of injuries sustained either by the boats themelves – or the skipper!

By the time of the skipper’s briefing, the weather forecast had improved though there was much discussion about whether the improvement was sufficient.  A few mlore boats decided not to risk it.  The worst of the weather was due to pass through before the start.  But there was likely to still be enough swell as the start to make sitting in a committee boat to start the race uncomfortable.  So for the first time in the Dieppe Dash, the decision was made to have a shore-based start.

In the end about 26 boats set out on the Friday morning and only 4 turned back. The rest all successfully arrived in Dieppe – 8 in the rally fleet, 9 in the IRC race and 5 in the SCCH race.  The wind forecast turned out to be correct with most wind in mid-channel – 25 knots gusting up to 30 – but then calming down towards the French side.  Fortunately it did not die completely so all boats arrived in a perfectly respectable time.  And the waiting organisers managed to leave their posts before darkness came – a bonus for them.

The first boat across was the first of the Prima 38’s Bare Knuckles from Eastbourne, skippered by Brian Tugwell, and finishing in 7 hours, 52 minutes and 45 seconds.   But it was not until the prize giving on Saturday that the rest of the awards were realized.

The IRC race was a French one-two with Matador, led by Herve Barret, winning first place and Bigaro, skippered by Christophe Malandrin, coming second.  In fact only 90 seconds separated second and fourth place.  Third was Bare Knuckles and just missing out on a podium place by only 39 seconds was Concession, a Contessa 26 owned by Graham Walton – the smallest boat in any of the fleets.

The SCCH race was won by Pleiades from Eastbourne, owned by Charles Erb.  And just to make it an extra special day, it was also Mrs Erb’s birthday – one of those important birthdays with a zero at the end.  Charles admitted before the race that the forecast was for the ideal conditions for his boat – a Westerley Ocean 43.  But when the result was announced he face told us that he did not believe he had actually won.  Second place went to another French boat, Foule Sentimentale led by Xavier Villain. In third place was Alan Salvidge on Ascent.

An additional prize was given – the Spirit of the Dash – to Stephen Pilkington of Luna Bay.  Stephen, based in Eastbourne, originally entered the SCCH race and attempted to get to Brighton on Thursday, in time for the skipper’s briefly.  But Luna Bay was one of two boats that did not manage to get around Beachy Head into the wind in sufficient time and had to turn back.  Instead he departed from Eastbourne as a rally boat – doing it single-handed – although motoring a fair way we hear.  But so glad that he made the effort and was rewarded for it.  All the other rally boats also found they had something to collect at the prize-giving.

Saturday in Dieppe was a beautiful day with glorious sunshine and then a great party with live music in the yacht club in the evening.  A number of boats left the following day attempting to sail back home in more sunshine – but quickly put their engines on as the wind did not pick up for a few hours.