Cockleshell challenge arrangements

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Cockleshell challenge arrangements

Hi all,
       Here is all the information about the Cockleshell challenge. I have highlighted the things people usually ask about in bold.

 Please would all of you who are likely to cox read the full Coxes briefing, the more people who have an idea of the course and hazards the better.

You will notice that the VHF channel as 8 in one place and 10 in another so you'll need to ask on the day!

Michael will be posting for boat loading closer to the event.

Event Plan and Arrival Instructions
Thank you for accepting our invitation to the ECA to take part in this year’s 7-mile
Cockleshell Challenge race. At the time of writing, we have 21 confirmed boat
entries comprising 7 Bursledon Gigs, 11 Cornish Pilot Gigs, 2 Solent Galleys and 1
Celtic Long Boat. We’ve been running the event since 2017 (except 2020 and 2021
due to the pandemic) a 7-mile race starting and finishing at our clubhouse at the
entrance to Langstone Harbour. Gigs race west into The Solent, along Eastney
beach and transit the submerged barrier near Lumps Fort, the wartime HQ of the
“Cockleshell Heroes”. The gigs then turn south and row round Horse Sand Fort
(keeping it to port) before returning to Langstone Harbour via Langstone Fairway
As outlined in the Entry and Self-Certification Form (Ref 1 supplied separately),
each Cox must have a working VHF marine radio (Channel 8) and all on board
must have lifejackets/buoyancy aids immediately available to them. If the Race
Marshall directs that buoyancy aids must be worn, there will be no exceptions.
Coxes must wear buoyancy aids at all times.

Please find below some notes intended to help the day go smoothly:

1. Arrival
1.1 Gigs and Towing Vehicles
Please come to our main entrance where our members will be at the gate to greet
you. Suggested arrival time is 0800 – 0900.
This will allow controlled unloading of
gigs etc. If you’d like to bring your gig earlier, please let us know your proposal for
our agreement via email to or call any
contact at end of this note ASAP.
The ECA postcode is PO4 9LY or There are no
narrow or difficult corners to negotiate on your way to the ECA. We are (as always)
limited for space, please unload as instructed by our event yard master. You will be
handed a car & trailer car pass, please leave on your dashboard. Please note that
for insurance purposes NO VEHICLES are allowed on our main slipway.

We have powered winches and towing tractors to assist with launch and recovery.
After unloading, please park your vehicle and trailer in our North Compound inside
the marked-out area as directed. Unloaded gigs can be taken to the water’s edge on
the day of the event Low Water Portsmouth is 1133 BST. Race start is planned for
1100 BST.

2.1 Other Vehicles
We are unable to accommodate other guest cars on site. There are however two
nearby, free public car parks to the north and to
the south of the ECA.
Please park up in either car park and walk to our Clubhouse’s main entrance
where you will directed/escorted to a registration desk in the Clubhouse.

3.1 Registration Desk
The Entry and Self-Certification Form that has been completed and returned to us
with provisional crew/cox details prior to the event day, may be updated or
confirmed on the event day.
Your club point of contact or Cox(s) must register/confirm your attendance at a
registration desk set up in the Clubhouse.

Note that ECA is a private members’ club, so to comply with our drinks licence we
need a signature in our guest book from each cox /club representative who can
“sign in” the whole crew / club.
The ECA Bar and Galley take both Cash and Cards, the ECA bar also offers a cash
back service.

2.2 Breakfast
Our galley will be serving breakfasts (bacon rolls, veggie rolls, coffee etc) from 0800
to 11:00.
2.3 Lunch
The galley will also serve lunch between 12:00 to 15:00 (including chilli jackets,
Curry etc and other such choices.
2.4 Bar
Our subsidised club bar opens at noon and remains open until 2230. The bar also
serves standard bar snack e.g. crisps, nuts etc.

3.2 Race Plan
Please refer to Rowing Instructions/Guidance for Coxes (Ref 2) supplied separately.
Cox Briefing
All Coxes must attend a briefing at 1000 (TBC).
Safety/General Briefing
Everyone who is participating in the event needs to attend our safety briefing,
planned for 1030 (TBC).
3.3 Race Start
Race start is planned for 1100.
There will be staggered start every 3 minute, starting with 2 Solent Galleys &1
Celtic Longboat boat, then 7 Burseldon gigs & finally 11 Cornish Pilot Gigs.
Warning for the start of each section of the race will be announced over the VHF
radio (CH8) followed by a 3 minute warning, then counting down the 3 minutes
once a minute, ending with "GET SET" then "GO".

4. Presentation and Prizegiving
This is planned to be held on ECA Balcony at approximately 1430.
Presentations will be by our club’s Commodore (Mr Ken Barton)
Prizes will be for the following:-
1. Fastest Bursledon Gig
2. Fastest Cornish Pilot Gig
3. Fastest in Skiff, Galleys etc as a Class/Group (with handicap).
4. Fastest ladies’ team (with handicap)
5. Fastest Men’s team (with handicap)
6. Fastest Mixed team (with handicap)
7. Fastest boat overall (with handicap)

5. Our Nominated Event Charity
Once more we’re supporting our nominated charity for this event - The Royal
Marines Charity
We plan to also have charity collection bins on our club bar and we will also be
holding a raffle.
6. Confirmed Entries
Any questions, please email to or you
may call:
- Geoff Selemani - Gig Events (079 6402 6101) or
- Steve Lowder - Beach Master (077 1331 7021) or
- Phil Brennan - Gig Chairperson (075 4500 8363).
We look forward to welcoming you to ECA!

Rowing Instructions/Directions for Coxes

The Cockleshell Challenge course is approximately 7.2 nautical miles (nm).
The guide time for completion of the course is 1 hour 45 minutes.

The race starts at the ECA start (and finish) line in the entrance to Langstone Harbour.
The start line is marked by two orange triangles to the flagpole at the race officer hut at
the ECA Clubhouse.
After heading south to the harbour entrance [1], the boats head West off Southsea Beach
to the Small Boat Channel (SBC) [2] through the WW2 submarine barrier. On this leg,
on the starboard side you will pass Lumps Fort where the Cockleshell Heroes of WW2
trained for Operation Frankton, the December 1942 raid by canoe-borne British
commandos on shipping in Bordeaux Harbour.
After the SBC, rowers will then head south on the westward side of the barrier to Horse
Sand Fort (HSF) [3], one of Palmerston's follies.
Rowers will leave the HSF to their portside and then the course runs ENE direction
towards Langstone Bar/Langstone Fairway Mark (LFM) [4].
A final turn, leaving LFM to port, brings the rowers on the last leg back to the finish line
at the ECA flagpole.

The following general outline timetable will apply:
Safety/Cox briefing: 1000hrs
General Briefing: 1030hrs
Planned Start Time: 1100hrs

The start times will be handicapped/staggered for racing convenience and safety.
The above timetable may be altered subject to events arising near or on the race day.
Tides will be neaps and the times at Portsmouth will be:
HW 0605 4.1m
LW 1133 1.4m
HW 1856 4.4m
Anticipated Tidal Streams:
The race starts on the last of the ebb tide. Coxes will experience a weak tidal stream
carrying them south onto the start line.
Coxes should be aware that, on the southbound leg from the SBC to HSF, the tidal
stream will set them towards the concrete submarine barrier.
For the rest of the course until the final northbound stretch (from LFM as below), there
will be a weak, easterly tidal stream.
On the last leg, from LFM to the finish line, boats will have the tide with them. Those
towards the back of the field will get more help than the leading boats.
Weather conditions may require changes on the day. If necessary, we shall set a course
of about the same length inside Langstone Harbour.
Coxes should carry a portable VHF marine radio. Race control on Channel 10.
Coxes must wear a personal buoyancy aid (lifejacket) and personal buoyancy aids
must be carried for (or optionally worn) by each person/crew on the boat.

Stage Description

1 Start at the ECA, heading
South down the Langstone Channel. Start
line is marked by a yellow transit by the
flagpole at the clubhouse.

1. Large dredgers use this channel.
Keep a lookout ahead and astern
and keep clear of them.
2. Keep well clear of the storm water
outfall jetty to starboard to avoid
conflict with anglers. (See
Langstone Harbour Board Local
Notice to Mariners No.5 of 2019)

2 Southsea Beach Leg.
Just past the outfall on the western side of
the Harbour entrance, turn West, leaving
the conspicuous red mark to starboard.
[Make a mental note of the red and white
Langstone Ba/Fairway Mark (looks black
from this distance) to seaward. It will be a
turning point [4] on the return leg.]

3 Head along Southsea Beach towards South
Parade Pier. [Make a mental note of the
red and black Roway Mark to the south of
you. It will be helpful on the return leg.]
The Port and Starboard marks of the Small
Boat Channel (SBC) will come in to sight
to your left of the pier.
1. Keep offshore of the yellow
swimming area buoys that are
about 50m off shore. Also, beware
of small fishing floats.
2. The SBC is narrow. No overtaking
and keep one boat length on either
side of the gap.

4 Pass through the SBC and turn South
towards Horse Sand Fort (HSF).
2 nm 1130

5 SBC to HSF. This is a 1.6 nm leg. See
note about tidal stream. After about halfway,
you will pass the Main Passage
through the barrier on your port side.
1. You have right of way over power
vessels coming through the gap
from the East but do not count on
it. Expect fast, unobservant traffic
from both directions.
2. There is restricted room to
manoeuvre, particularly for sailing
boats. You are advised to keep a
good 200 yards off.
Continue to leave HSF to Port.

6 Turn to the East round HSF. You are
briefly on the edge of the main shipping
1. Keep an eye out for large container
ships in the main channel towards
Southampton and for ferries
leaving Portsmouth. You are not
in danger of collision but big ships
can cause a substantial wake 10
minutes or so after they pass.
2. Keep a look out ahead and astern.
Ship wakes can build up near the
fort. Keep 100 yards clear as you
go round.
3.7 nm 1200

7 HSF to Langstone Bar Mark (LBM).
This leg requires a bit of navigation.
There is an advantage to achieving a
straight line. You will not be able to see
the LBM until you have completed about
half this 2.4 mile leg. Steer about 060
magnetic and aim to leave the red and
black Roway Mark about 400 yards to

8 Turn North towards Langstone Harbour,
leaving LBM to Port.
6 nm 1230

9 LBM to finish line Approximately North.
Final sprint finish of 1.3 miles.
1. Keep a lookout for dredgers ahead
and astern.
7.2 nm 1245

10 After finishing, please row back to beach
at the ECA, keeping well clear of other
boats still racing. Beach your boat south
of the concrete slip.
1. Please report your safe return to
the ECA racing hut.
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Re: Cockleshell challenge arrangements

Most importantly, no hats to be worn in the club house😁