Llyn Clywedog in West Wales hosted the CVRDA for their 15th National Rally over the August Bank Holiday. Despite the forecast, by Saturday lunchtime the campervan and camping area was filled to bursting. Saturday afternoon was spent blasting around in a gusty force 4, firstly posing for the photographers, then having a quick ‘get to know where the buoys are’ race, which morphed into a long beat up one of the arms of the lake to a beach for tea and biccies. The rapid run home was a little buttock clenching at times for those in unstable boats, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

The evening was spent eating and drinking, of course, (and a huge thanks must go to the cooks and helpers) but also voting for our favourite boats. The overwhelming vote for the prettiest boat on the land was for the recently restored-from-firewood International 14 Blue Peter, which was built to a Jack Holt design just after (or possibly towards the end of) the 2nd world war. Best looking on the water went to a stunning Flying Dutchman, a boat which showed that modern materials can not only work well on a classic boat, but look great too. Mind, the acres of varnish on the decks helped, too! The 3rd category is for the boat that people would most like to take home with them. This went to a boat that has been attending cvrda events since the very beginning in 1999, and never won a concourse trophy, Firefly 2324, Saskia.

Sunday, which, due to Monday’s forecast, became the main race day, dawned somewhat damp and foggy. For the 22 boats taking part in the racing, PRO Mick Edwards put on a course of ambitious length, and the 1st race was just one lap. In the very light breezes, the FD couldn’t get moving, and it was the Firefly which was able to take the lead, chased by Fairey Finn 197 and a tiny Shelley design International Moth, 2883. The Finn pipped the Firefly for line honours, but on handicap the Firefly won, with a Mirror taking 2nd from the Moth.

The next 3 races went more to plan for the Flying Dutchman. In each race, she took a big lead, but was never quite able to stretch out far enough to beat all the smaller boats on handicap. Here once more Finn, Firefly and Moth were ahead of the pack, with the Mirrors doing well on handicap from further back on the water. However, for most, the battle between pretty evenly matched Finns, Merlins, Pegasuses (Pegasii?) and Albacore was far more important than the spreadsheet results at the end of the day. However, once these were calculated the 3 leading boats were all on 6 points, and all was to play for the next day.

That evening, the AGM brought us a new Commodore (boat restorer and instrument maker extraordinaire Chris Barlow) and also a vote for Honorary Life membership of the CVRDA for Keith Rollinson and Mick Edwards, who have been organizing and  running classics events at Clywedog almost every year since the CVRDA was formed. Much talk in the bar after was of whether we would get any sailing in next day at all, due to the 40 knot gusts forecast.

As it turned out, the gust strength had been overestimated by about a factor of 10. The day dawned with low clouds pretending to be fog in the valley, and a mist of rain covering everything. However, a course was set, and the final race began at about 11am, just as the rain cleared. A wind shift as the breeze filled in a little meant a short reach to the first mark, reminiscent of the start of the recent America’s Cup races, and even more chaotic. Merlin Rocket 1066 made the best of it, but was chased hard by Finn 197 and Moth 2883 once they had extricated themselves. The Firefly, meanwhile, was a little stuck in traffic. The Moth showed boat speed beyond its size to take the race on the water and on handicap to take the  overall win and the ‘old’ wing trophy, for boats built after 1965. A good final beat saw the Firefly just catch up enough on the Finn to steal 2nd on handicap, and so take 2nd overall and the ‘classic’ wing trophy, for boats built before 1965. The ‘vintage’ wing trophy, for boats built using traditional methods, went to the International 14 Blue Peter, defeating pre-amalgamation Rocket Gannet for that honour.

By lunch time, the rain had set in properly, and packing the boats away for the journey home was a soggy affair. The prize giving was much brighter, the highlight as usual being the Wing Nut award for gross under achievement or stupidity. The winner was in a boat which while approching the slipway, hooked a submerged trolley with the mainsheet. Not noticing, the boat continued sailing, dragging the trolley. The helm then decided to jump out, not realizing that 1, the water was still deep, and 2, he had the mainsheet wrapped round his ankle. So, picture a Merlin Rocket sailing along happily with both a trolley and a person being dragged along behind. Congratulations, Tim Bury!

Results in full detail here: Clywedog_2014_results