Henry Bomby, the Kingswear teenager who will sail his Contessa 26, Gerunuk, solo around Britain in 2010, won his class overall in the Classic Channel regatta race which kicked off in Dartmouth last weekend. With Simon Bower, 20, as crew, the boys were the youngest competitors.
Both learned their sailing skills at the Royal Dart Yacht Club, coming up through the ranks of Junior Sailing and taking part in racing on Wednesday evenings.
After a second in the Dartmouth races on Saturday, the boys won the tough 110 mile race to Paimpol on the Brittany coast by only 1 minute and nineteen seconds. The passage took a staggering seventeen hours. “The conditions were so rough that we couldn’t use the tiller pilot,” Henry explained. “We steered the whole way and couldn't cook or sleep. We had to make do with a packet of kettle chips to keep us going! And the weather wasn’t the only hazard. “We knew the shipping lanes were going to be a problem and we did get quite close to some huge tankers. It was an incredible sight.
The Classic Channel Regatta is open to bermudian and gaff-rigged classic yachts launched before the end of 1975 and more recent 'Spirit of Tradition' yachts. Gerunuk, being built in 1969 of a folkboat design, was in the modern classic's division and was the smallest boat in the race. “We were both in our element - keeping the boat going at maximum speed while making tactical decisions, putting off tiredness with caffeine chewing gum as the wind backed and dropped from NW to SW and dealing with the currents, especially as we approached the tidal races of the Channel Islands.”
After a day of rest in France, the boys went on to come fourth in the Paimpol inshore race and second in the round Sark race. But they still had time to have fun. “'I don't think I've ever laughed as much as I have on this trip - the combination of tiredness and sharing a confined space made everything much funnier than if it had happened on shore!”
Henry, now back in Kingswear, is busy preparing for his Around Britain Challenge. If you or your company are interested in backing Henry please visit www.henrybombysailing.co.uk for information about sponsorship and the charity he is supporting - Toe in the Water.
Susan Swan July 16th 2009