Solent and Lymington races 2017

Report from Bellino.

Saturday's Solent race promised to be tricky for us double handers - 8 legs in 24 miles, including three spinnaker legs each just a mile long. The race went like this:

Almost over the line at the start but some frantic luffing from Rob gets us the perfect start and we lead the fleet past Snowden until Scream screams past, shortly followed by the RAF on British Soldier (at least that's what Dougie said, and he's a Vice Captain). Deb decides to hike for a while, as everyone else has lots of crew on the rail, but gives up after 20 seconds as she is bored and the jib needs trimming. Prepare the symmetric spinnaker for a hoist at Bob Kemp, sneak the guy and attach the halyard too early, then scramble to the foredeck to stop the sail making a bid for freedom. Rob bears away while Deb is hugging the spinnaker on the foredeck, and we watch J Fever and Prime Suspect hoist and sail past while we tame the kite and hoist - doh! Regain a few places on our asymmetric rivals by sailing deep under our symmetric spinnaker, gybe at Darling Associates, trim kite some more. Hoist jib, drop spinnaker at East Bramble, think about code zero, decide against it, pack spinnaker. Bear away at West Ryde Middle, gybe, gybe again, hoist jib, drop spinnaker and harden up at Hill Head. Find time for a chocolate bar. Avoid Bramble Bank, decide to go North to avoid the tide, watch everyone else except Dusty P go South to avoid the tide, pack spinnaker, hoist code zero, drop code zero shortly after, come hard on the wind to get to Saltmead. Breathe sigh of relief as we just lay it without having to tack. Another spinnaker hoist for the 0.8M to West Lepe, then hoist jib, drop spinnaker, and swiftly hoist the code zero for the final leg. Wave to Longue Pierre, check nav as everyone else is pointing inshore of us, and finish - hoorah! Furl code zero, drop main and sneak on to the Dan Bran pontoon, hoping no-one will notice we're not a Halberg Rassey as there is obviously a rally going on. The lack of bunting flying from our rigging gives us away, but the harbour master lets us stay after a brief game of boat Tetris in order to squeeze one more boat in.

Go to the yacht club soon after three in the afternoon where we are led astray first by David from Jester who is buying beers, then by Andy Hill who is making cocktails on Prime Suspect, then by the JOG committee who are proffering free wine at the very pleasant JOG gathering, then by Chris from Ding Dong who kindly chauffeurs us to the Chequers for dinner with our 2h buddies. The rest of the evening was a blur, but it was a lot of fun and lovely to see everyone. 

Get up on Sunday and do it all again...

Thanks to the all those who started and finished us, set courses, arranged the fine hospitality at the Royal Lymington, and arranged such perfect weather!

Race report from Shades of Blue;  Solent - Lymington - Solent

Je suis un Rock Star - Part One

There a pattern to inshore racing on Shades of Blue, dry sailed out of West Cowes. The day before the race the owner does down, clears the boat of accumulated clutter, makes sure the engine starts, empties the fridge of last months milk and goes home, ready to return on the 07:15 RedJet on Saturday morning in plenty of time to get to the start in a cool, calm and collected manner, with no stress. The crew arrive at various points on Friday evening, fill the boat up with clutter and more milk, get the rest of the gear ready and generally sample the delights of Friday night in Cowes.

This weekend, possibly the most important weekend of the season (Class 5 Cat 4 Championship decider).... ED MISSED THE FERRY!  And there isn't one at 07:45. 

Mid conversation about who was going to Skipper -a lack of owner certainly wasn't going to stop us - and whether it was too late to tell him to meet us in Lymington, he lept athletically onto the (by now untied and on it's way off the pontoon) boat, grabbed his coffee and... normality, if not sanity, resumed.  

Having been a bit too cautious at the start the first leg saw us gradually picking off our Class 5 competitors, covering With Alacrity at the same time as looking out for Jackdaw, who we needed to beat. The breeze was a steady 9 - 10kts from the S / SE (ish), the sun was out and all was well in the world.  Chris (different Chris), recovered from his assault by the main sheet during Cowes Week, was back doing a sterling job, Spike was in charge of nav and foredeck, Pandie was doing her stuff on the downwind bits and the crack cockpit crew of Cath and Graham were keeping us moving on the uphill parts. 

The kite went up seamlessly at the first mark and, somehow, we were still picking off the rest of the fleet.  Things were looking good.  This was followed by a perfect drop, with Octopus Armed Graham a mere blur in the pit.  

And still we crept forward.

That was really the story of the day.  All the corners were good and the crew work, worked.  By the time we were on the last leg towards the finish (complete with a small debate about where exactly it was) we'd even overhauled Raffles, who for most of this season has been a small spec in the distance.  

Class AND line honours (a first for Shades in an inshore race?) were duly celebrated with cheese and ham rolls and the bottles of wine that hadn't been decluttered, before Rock Stars Ed and Graham jumped ship for gigs elsewhere.  That left the rest of the crew to sample some Primeval, sorry Suspect, hospitality, before some socialising at the JOG drinks in the RLYC, followed by dinner, some more socialising and bed.

Je suis un Rock Star - Part Two

Ignoring the 02:00 wake up as the elephant footed bowman decided to jump down the steps, Sunday morning started with... The. Return. Of. The. Owner.  Who very nicely made coffee for the dead bodies in his boat before we set off to repeat the (racing) process.  

No one had had the brain power to work out if we'd done enough to steal the championship from Jackdaw so, one down (Octopus Armed Graham having other plan
s for Sunday) we followed the same 'get it right first time' strategy we should probably try all year.  The course was to all intents similar, with a few more gybes thrown in for good measure down the last leg.  The tide wasn't playing the same game as us this time however, and we couldn't catch With Alacrity; well done guys.  Jackdaw was however, still behind us so, with Shades 2nd and Jackdaw 3rd it looks like there is some silverware to collect. Sorry Jackdaw,  tt was close in the end.

As Rock Star Ed jumped off to catch the earlier RedJet back to Southampton to get a train to Lymington to collect his car (!) , the rest of the crew finished as much food as it's possible to eat, tidied up and left the boat just as it started raining.

A great weekend, thank you to everyone involved, and to the RLYC for their hospitality. 

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