Racing To Get The Races In!

The Regatta programme on 22/23 September was nutcrackered by the two storms! With races scheduled from Saturday morning to Sunday lunchtime, our plan was to get across to Cowes on late Friday afternoon and take in some practice with the Asymmetrical at the same time. However this was all changed by the strong winds in advance and in the forecast. 

First Things First!

Great credit should be given to Skipper Tom Lynch and crew for getting the RelaX back from France so we could go aboard on schedule. Tom had to hope for a window in the strong winds in order to come over. He saw a brief gap before Storm Bronagh blasted in and he and the crew got the yacht to Yarmouth in a very arduous crossing. Even to make a passage from Yarmouth to Gosport on the Friday required waiting for the wind to ease in the morning before leaving, and then having to dive into Cowes to shelter from a F8. 

Three of Tom’s crew – Debbie Roberts, Janet Carroll and Steve Greenham – also comprised half the race crew! It is to their great credit (and my gratitude) that they were ready and willing still to race!

Meanwhile in the Race Office

The forecasts for the weekend included the probability of a third storm of the season, provisionally named Callum, forming the weather on the Sunday. The Race Officer was obviously concerned, not wanting to set a race off in severe conditions. It also turned out that a number of entrants were sailing Fairview yachts, and Fairview decided it wanted all its yachts back by Saturday evening. 

The John Lewis Partnership SC and the Race Officer decided to run all three races on the Saturday. The major Regatta casualty was the Saturday evening Club Regatta dinner, which had to be cancelled. 

On Board Relax

David Edwards Rigging Lines
David Edwards Rigging Lines

Given Friday’s weather we stayed in Haslar on Friday night, and had a restorative supper on Mary Mouse! We held the Asym. drill on Saturday morning and so we would feel confident to use it in the race. Unfortunately we did not start the first race! A bind in the Asym. prevented it unfurling so we had to drop, pull out the snag and rehoist for the drill. It left us too far from the start line, the tide having turned!   

Still, for the race exercise we set off after the fleet and were buoyed (pun intended!) by our performance. We returned to Cowes to await the next race – and the wind failed! So the first race took forever, delaying the start of the next. The time available for the second race was now limited. The course was two laps round a smaller course. 

With some good nav. from David Edwards we did well upwind  and up-tide to the first mark off Old Castle Pt. Round and downwind to Prince Consort and then into towards Trinity House buoy off Cowes on a reach, and back into a beat again. The final leg was downwind, the yachts choosing between sailing goose-winged or with both sails on the same side. With the wind slightly variable in the course of slowly backing, changes mid-leg had to be made. 

Jockeying on the line
Jockeying on the line

The wind was now F4 and rising. The third race was quickly started and on the same course. It meant that the yachts were less spread out as the fleet approached the first mark, and the situation wasn’t helped by a couple of yachts cruising from the opposite direction to pass near the mark!

It all demonstrated that in Solent racing each one assigned a duty had to stand by at all times to instantly adjust sheets. Tightening, easing, tacking and gybing can all be required at short notice. The adrenalin is pumping! Everyone rose to the occasion – Steve Greenham (Mate), Debbie Roberts, Janet Carroll, Greg Nichol and David, and I’m grateful to them all for their big contributions.

We had some great successes in tackling one rival or another on legs, especially downwind. Great excitement every time!

Beating to The Royal London Buoy

Return and Result!

The wind was rising with every indication that Sunday would indeed be full of storm. The decision of Fairview and the Race Office to get yachts back to home ports on the mainland was well justified and the Race Officer and the JLP Club deserve credit for putting in all races on Saturday. With the wind in the SE it was a hard drive back to Gosport with no shortage of rain and we were pleased to settle down to a piping chili con carne. 

It was a great shame to miss the very sociable Regatta Dinner all together, but there is always next year! 

And the result? We were fourth out of nine in our class, one point ahead of the next yacht. As it happened, the first three boats were very successful in all races, so even if we had started in the first race it is very unlikely we’d have reached third overall! So nothing lost by the chance to practice the Asym., and all very satisfied!

Ted Sankey                 30/9/18

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