yes its a piece of strake.
Nick, who was helping me at the weekend and installed the valves went through the rope/strap trick with me...but thanks, its a good piece of advice.
I have put a 1 cm wide slit in the D section of the piece of strake to open it up, and ease the bending!
I was hoping to cheat past a patched handle that has been added just under the tip of the bow by a previous owner, but even having cut the actual handle out of the patch, I can see that I am going to have to remove the whole patch before fitting the fairlead. Just more time consuming than annoying!