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.

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)

2023 Shanghai Cup

After a successful weekend’s racing in Portishead on 10th/ 11th June, the fleet re-grouped in Cardiff on 24th / 25th June for the second and final weekend of the regatta. With entries from Portishead Cruising Club (PCC), Cardiff Bay, Thornbury, Neyland, and Pembroke Haven Yacht Clubs, the event drew wide interest from the Bristol Channel racing community.

Saturday’s racing started in light airs as the fleet headed for the windward mark near to the Monkstone lighthouse. As the wind continued to drop, the course was shortened and crews had to make tactical decisions to ensure they used the best of the wind while avoiding the effects of foul tide. Emma Peel, a Elliott 7 skippered by James Dwyer took line honours but it was regatta leader Ctrl-J, a J109 skippered by Andy Williams who collected the victory on corrected time with Jaloha, a J80 skippered by Jonathan Nutting, securing third place.

With glassy conditions, rare sightings of porpoises and no sign of the wind returning, racing was curtailed and the crews headed to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club to round off the day’s racing with a BBQ and drinks.

Conditions looked more favourable for Sunday’s racing and the first race got underway in a light airs.
However, tactics once again came to the fore as the breeze dropped and some crews got trapped in wind holes which eventually meant not all boats were able to complete the course within the time limit. After a 50 minute postponement where a once again glassy Bristol Channel provided a swimming pool for the overheating sailors, a significant dark shadow approaching from Lavernock Point signalled the arrival of the forecast wind.

The second race quickly got into sequence. Amid continually building gusts and white capsforming, a general recall gave crews time to reef mainsails and switch down headsails in readiness for the more testing conditions that led to a fast and furious start. At the windward mark, spinnakers were hoisted for a demanding and fast downwind leg as crews completed two laps of the course.

After an exhilarating final race, the crews headed to the shelter of Cardiff Bay ahead of the final prize giving. Ctrl-J, a J109 skippered by PCC member Andy Williams took the regatta’s overall first place which meant they retained the Shanghai Cup for the second year in a row. Second and third place overall went to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club members, James Dwyer, skipper of Emma Peel, an Elliott 7 and Phil Cook, skipper of half tonner, Checkmate XV, respectively. Commenting on his regatta win, Andy Williams said, “Another fantastic and well organized Shanghai Cup that’s tested us all in a variety of conditions. A huge thanks to all the competing crews, organizers and sponsors and of course special thanks to the Ctrl-J crew for some great teamwork to secure this result.”

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. Contact Nick Duppa-Miller at nickdmiller3000@outlook.com to find out more and get involved – you don’t need a boat to join in the fun!