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Bembridge Rally September 2014

The forecast for the weekend of 13 and 14 September was for Easterly winds force 4 to 5 occasionally 6 – not great for a harbour facing East. However, in the end the winds were generally lighter than forecast on the Saturday. It turned out that the majority of the boats came from Gosport or close by. There were three exceptions Santorini (Nick and Judi Kerr) came from Hamble, Tandala (Graham Bromley & Tim Warriner) from Beaulieu and La Baraka Jean-Pierre Gaillard & Jacques Grandjean) from Cherbourg. Tandala in particular had a lovely sail close hauled all the way to the forts, but had to set off earlier than most which helped. 8 boats in total attended – 2 x D2800s – Santorini and Nina II John & Helen Birnie), a D31 (Luis & Beth Castillo), 2 x D32s – Etain (Isabel & Evan Gregg) and Free Spirit (Tony & Lilah Lidgate), a D34 Tandala and 2 x D36s – Dufourus (Steve & Amanda Ray plus their daughter Sophie and Nephew and Niece Oliver and ……) and La Baraka.

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Rafted Up

The weather was warm and sunny Saturday afternoon and evening. Initially there were 6 Dufours in a single raft, but this was later changed to two sets of three boats. The evening got off to a decent start at 6pm with a gathering of the group on Tandala and Free Spirit for a glass or three of wine and some spectacular nibbles provided by some clearly gifted people in the group. This was followed by a short walk up to one of the new marquees provided alongside a bar-b-que at the top of the walkway from the Duver marina. The tent was equipped with plenty of seating and provided a really nice atmosphere for everyone to mix and relax in each other’s company. The gas bar-b-que was well marshalled by young Oliver. The whole arrangement proved to be really popular with everyone in the group and we were as warm as toast inside the tent out of the wind as darkness fell.

What has been very apparent during all of the recent rallies in the Solent is the easy way in which this group mixes and those new to the group are integrated and made to feel like old friends. It was great to see Luis and Beth Castillo at the rally. I know they were very disappointed to have to missed rallies in 2014 due to family commitments – Luis has put a lot of work into this group over many years, along with the likes of David and Dorothy Eyre and were ever presents for almost 20 years, having organised many rallies with David from their earliest days.

We were delighted to welcome our new friends Jean-Pierre and Jacques from CVD (Cercle Voilers Dufour) the French Dufour Owners group. Their commitment in making the trip from Cherbourg (one of them had actually come from St Malo) was commendable and very much appreciated. Although there were challenges to effective communication, the international language of sailing and a shared passion for these boats saw us through. We welcomed them into the group and presented them with a Dufour Owners Burgee as a memento of their attendance at the rally – this was proudly flying from their signal

Our CVD Friends are presented with a Dufour Association Pennant

Our CVD Friends are presented with a Dufour Association Pennant

halyard in the morning.

The wind during the night was up around the forecast force 6, but this dropped away again in the morning to a steadier F4 to 5 – a perfect sailing wind! The tide restricts entry and exit from Bembridge, so everyone set off for a decent walk before departing for home – eight of us ended up at the lovely cafe ‘Baywatch on the beach’ and strolled back together. The first boats started to depart around 13.30 and all had departed with the exception of La Baraka by 13:50. Our guests set off for home early on Monday morning.

A really nice weekend with really nice people and a well supported event in excellent weather – it doesn’t get much better than that!

(Published in Dufour News Winter 2014)