Sail Practice Events

Amongst the racing calendar this year, the sailing committee have introduced Sail Practice Events. These are favourable tides where members can practice sailing manoeuvres such as spinnaker hoist and drops, tacking, gybing, sail trimming and helming outside of race conditions.

The remaining sail practice events for 2024 are as shown below. If your boat hasn’t been beyond the lock for a while and you’d like to practice your sailing manoeuvres in the company of other boats, these may be the events for you! Non-racing members and other Portishead Marina users are all welcome. If you are planning to go out, please let our Sailing Secretary, Matt Bundell know so he can let you know how many other boats will be joining you.

The remaining Sail Practice Events for 2024 are:

  • 11th August, HW 11h50, HT 11.m
  • 1st September, HW 19h21, HT12.1m
  • 14th September, HW 16h57, HT 10.2m

Ordinarily we leave the marina approximately an hour or so before high water and return to the marina an hour or so after high water. This is then typically followed by a pint or two at the sirens to debrief on what was seen from fellow vessels on the water!

Ctrl-J Scores Shanghai Hatrick

Over the weekend of 29th /20th June, PCC crews headed to Cardiff for the second weekend of the annual Shanghai Cup, Bristol Channel IRC Championships and Nimrod Cup. This time hosted by co-organisers Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, crews once again pitted their skills and tactics in pursuit of arguably one of the most impressive cups available!

Going into the Cardiff leg, PCC boats were well placed in the overall leaderboard so stellar performances were needed to maintain their standings. In stark contrast to the first day of the Portishead leg, winds at Cardiff were light so crews had the extra pressure of keeping their sails full.

With Sunday’s conditions being broadly similar to Saturday’s, crews sailed six races across the weekend in addition to the three sailed previously in Portishead.

After the racing, crews headed back to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club for the results and prize giving and it was PCC boat Ctrl-J, skippered by Andy Williams that took first prize overall. However, the accolades didn’t stop there as this was the third time in a row that Ctrl-J had won giving them a Shanghai Cup hatrick! Jaloha, the J/80 from Pembroke Haven Yacht Club came 2nd overall and PCC boat Hero completed the podium positions with 3rd overall.

As another successful Shanghai Cup, Bristol Channel IRC Championships comes to a close, the organising committee extends their thanks to all the competitors from across the Bristol Channel for taking part and to all the race committee, mark layers, scorers and photographers who ensure that the racing can be safely and successfully run. The racing will return next year.

PCC crews will now continue their club racing before some of the boats head off to Ireland for Volvo Cork Week in the middle of July. The next big Bristol Channel event will be the Holms Race on 28th September.

If you’d like to join future races but don’t know where to start, contact us to find out about the latest crewing opportunities that may be available. You don’t need a boat to join in the fun!

Photos by Timothy Gifford

Racing & The Waverley

Racing off Portishead often means that crews need to also share the water with other vessels either out for a sail or commercial traffic heading in and out of Avonmouth and Royal Portbury docks.

During Cockburn 2 on the 1st June, the fleet were excited to spot the unmistakable hull shape of the PS Waverley, the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer. As she docked into Portishead the fleet enjoyed great views of her from the water – and those onboard Waverley also witnessed the spectacular sight of the PCC fleet with spinnakers flying as they completed a downwind leg of the course. Arriving into Portishead from Clevedon, Waverley was making a short stop before heading off for a cruise around the Holm Islands.

Aside from the spectacle of a paddle steamer making way through our local waters, the crews were impressed at her speed too! As National Historic Ships UK National Flagship of the Year 2024, it’s always a great sight to see her in the Bristol Channel.

After a brief break for the Shanghai Cup, Cork Week and some of the club’s downside races, the Cockburn Series will continue on 28th July where the penultimate race will doubtless have a bearing on who will be the winner of this key series of the club’s racing program.

If you’d like to join future races but don’t know where to start, contact us to find out about the latest crewing opportunities that may be available. You don’t need a boat to join in the fun!

Photo Credit: Chris Armitage

Shanghai Cup @ Portishead

In partnership with Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, PCC hosted the first leg of the 2024 Shanghai Cup, the Bristol Channel IRC Championships and the Nimrod Cup in King Road just off Portishead over the weekend of 15th/ 16th June.

Unfortunately, Saturday’s racing program was cancelled on safety grounds given the strong winds and gusts over 30 knots that were forecast and which duly arrived. This meant crews spent the day either fine-tuning their Sunday racing plans or sampling the delights of Portishead’s many marina-side bars!

With new weather, Sunday provided a full racing program in near perfect conditions. Crews from Thornbury, Portishead, Cardiff and even Pembroke put their tactical racing skills into action as racing saw the fleet beat up to the outfall bouy and then back down to channel markers and laid marks just off Portishead.

With spinnakers flying and close-hauled racing, the fleet made for a great sight from the shore but it was PCC boat Ctrl-J, skippered by Andy Williams that took 1st place in two out of the three races sailed. And, in a great day for PCC yachts, the club took 1st and 2nd place overall for Ctrl-J and Hero, who took 1st place in the second race, with other club member’s boats Scrumpy-J in 6th place and Assassin in 9th. Full racing results are on the official regatta website.

The crews now head to Cardiff for the second leg of the regatta over the weekend of 29th/ 30th June where the weekend concludes with the formal prize giving.

Running a weekend regatta is a team sport in itself so PCC would like to thank our sponsors and those individuals that provided their time to be race officers, supplied their boat as the committee boat and our mark layers and photographers. Final thanks to the social team for organising another fine drinks party at the boat hoist on Saturday afternoon.

If you’d like to join future races but don’t know where to start, contact us to find out about the latest crewing opportunities that may be available. You don’t need a boat to join in the fun!

Photos by David Mumford.

Shanghai Cup 2024

In partnership with Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, PCC is happy to announce the dates for the Shanghai Cup 2024, Bristol Channel IRC Championships and Nimrod Cup.

The popular annual championship, held over two weekends, saw PCC boat Ctrl-J skippered by Andy Williams retain the Shanghai Cup in 2023 with Emma Peel and Checkmate XV coming in second and third places respectively. The 2023 Nimrod Cup was won by Hallucination with Pele and Glad Rags following in second and third place.

Back for another year, the Shanghai Cup will use IRC ratings and take place as follows:

  • Portishead weekend – 15th/ 16th June 2024
  • Cardiff weekend – 29th/ 30th June 2024

Social events at each location will be communicated at a later date. Note the Nimrod Cup will use NHC ratings and will run on the Cardiff weekend only.

The organising committee have now updated the event website at shanghai and have posted the Conditions of Entry and the Notice of Race 2024 v0.1.

Further information including the entry form, can be found on the Shanghai and Nimrod Cup website. Members are also invited to spread the word and look forward to two weekends of competitive racing in June!

If you’re looking to join the action but aren’t a PCC member or don’t have a boat, contact us to find out about the latest crewing opportunities that may be available.

Suns Out, Racers Out!

With a perfect evening forecast for sailing, a number of the club’s racing fleet joined the first evening race of the summer season. The evening breeze made for ideal light airs racing and the course provided ample opportunity for the boats to practice their spinnaker hoists and drops ahead of the upcoming Bristol Channel IRC Championships, the Shanghai Cup organised in conjunction with Cardiff Bay Yacht Club.

It was a win for Ctrl-J, the J/109 skippered by Andy Williams that took first place in the penultimate race of the PCC Spring Series putting him in pole position for a series win.

As is the norm, after the race the crews retired to the Sirens Calling to dissect the race, and share stories of a great evening’s sailing out on the water.

If you’ve always wanted to be part of a racing crew, get in touch. You don’t need a boat to join in the fun and PCC Skippers are always on the look out for new crew members.

2024 Holms Race

The 2024 edition of the Holms Race will be on Saturday 28th September.

This annual race is for many a highlight of the Bristol Channel sailing calendar. The course leaves Portishead, rounds Flat Holm to port, Steep Holm to port and then returns to Portishead. Featuring a choose your own start time, it pits skippers and crews against the wind and tides of the Bristol Channel with the aim of being between the islands at slack water ready to race back on the new flood tide.

To encourage participation from all Bristol Channel Yacht Clubs, once again in 2024 will be the special prize for the ‘Top Club’. 

Currently held by PCC, the amazing rose-bowl trophy will be awarded to the top club in the Holms Race. The top three results from each club will be amalgamated and the best placed club will be pronounced as the ‘Top Club’. As the BCYA said themselves, ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it!

The Notice of Race, Entry Form and Sailing Instructions will be available closer to the event. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us.

Autumn & Gluhwein Cup

As everyone gears up for the start of a new year, the club has released a press release to local and yachting media announcing the results of the final racing series of 2023 together with the results of the annual Gluhwein Cup which traditionally concludes the club’s racing program for the year.

The Autumn Cup featured five races between September and December.   With individual races being won by Hullabaloo (J/92s), Scrumpy J (J/105), Ctrl-J (J/109) and Hero (One Tonner), it was a close fought series until Scrumpy J, skippered by Nick Duppa-Miller scored another win and took the series.  With a range of weather conditions from light airs at the start of the series to heavier seas towards the end, the Autumn Cup always provides for some tricky sailing conditions and this year was no different.  Crews found themselves using full sail wardrobes to gain the advantage – and in some cases, this happened during one race!

For the final race of the year, called the Gluhwein Cup given its proximity to the festive season, boats headed out for a final race in King Road.  With tight racing on the water with only two minutes between the first three boats, it was Ctrl-J (J/109), skippered by Andy Williams who won on corrected time with Scrumpy J, the J/105 and Hero, a One Tonner closely following in second and third places respectively.

After the race, some of the crews headed to the annual club Christmas lunch to refuel and warm-up after the morning’s race and dissect all of the on-water action.

If you’ve always hankered to be part of a racing yacht crew or want to get back into sailing then the team at PCC would love to hear from you!  The fleet races in a number of club series across the year in the waters of the Bristol Channel – including some evenings during the summer.   The 2024 racing calendar has now been published – contact Vice-Commodore, Nick Duppa-Miller to find out more and get involved – you don’t need a boat to join in the fun!

2023 Holms Race

This year’s Holms Race made for a spectacular sight as 40 boats from across the Bristol Channel took part in PCC’s annual flagship race. With the first leg being a downwind spinnaker run, some boats got caught out on timing as they made ground faster than usual meaning an arrival at Flat Holm before slack water.

Early arrivals at the Holms were greeted with wind and tide carrying them further down channel as they sought to round Steep Holm. Thanks to confused seas, this created some challenging moments for crews during the spinnaker drop.

The beat back heralded classic Bristol Channel conditions of wind over tide which created a lumpy sea. The calmer conditions that awaited after the finish line at Portishead Point provided some welcome respite as boats waited to lock back into Portishead Marina.

Congratulations to Barefoot from Cardiff Bay Yacht Club which took first overall.

With a second, fourth and ninth place, the Top Club trophy, the magnificent rose bowl, was won by Portishead Cruising Club. Full results can be found on the race page.

A huge thanks to everyone involved with making this years race a success. From our sponsors Advance Marine and Boatfolk to the entire PCC organising team. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

2023 Fastnet Race

Billed as one of the the world’s toughest yacht races, the 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race stood up to its reputation. With forecast strong winds, competitors were tested before they’d got out of the Solent! Matt Bundell and crew aboard Assassin took on the conditions and after seeing 44 knots of apparent and 38 knots of true alongside 5m high waves, took the sensible option of seeking shelter in Portland at midnight on Saturday. By Sunday morning over 25% of the fleet had retired (a number that increased during the day), one boat had sunk in the Needles channel and several others suffered rigging failures or injuries.

On shore, the PCC members watching the fleet as it made its way through Hurst Narrows were treated to a spectacle of the leading trimaran (at that point Banque Populaire), the IMOCA fleet and then the various IRC classes, all battling to tame the conditions described by professional sailors as ‘brutal’.

If you missed the start, catch-up with the video below – and while in Portland, the local ITV news crew turned up giving Assassin and PCC crew member Ian Bloxham their five minutes of fame!

Planetsail reports on all the action from the start with a mix of on-water footage and interviews with the Pros. (YouTube)