JUNIOR OFFSHORE
GROUP

Cowes Weymouth 2017

JACKDAW RACE REPORT

On Wednesday when the forecast was looking like 40 knots on the nose we almost scratched, particularly as we were to be only 3 up and we were waiting on delivery of a new exhaust elbow to fix a problem with low engine power.  However, the following day the forecast improved to a more reasonable 20 knots, the new elbow arrived and was duly fitted, and we seemed to be back to normal RPM.

An 0645 meet at Marchwood seemed to leave ample time for an 0915 start at Cowes but the surprise was very little wind – and then halfway down Southampton Water our revs suddenly dropped.  No fix after all!  It was clear we were going to be late but we left it until our preparatory signal to radio JOG One to confirm a ‘14c’ late start.  Just what we didn’t need at that point was a looming container ship and an excited Harbour Master giving emphatic – if apparently conflicting –  instructions for us to turn in various directions all of which were very unhelpful to our cause.

The upshot was that we were 29 minutes late in starting, heading off only just in front of the Class 3 boats, which meant it wasn’t too long before we were at the back of the fleet.  Given that the only way was up, we decided that it was a day for ‘doing different’.

Our first instance of this was to try to lay Hurst Castle in a single tack.  We could see a number of the boats ahead of us tacking across towards the island shore, presumably to try to pick up tide.  With 1.6 knots behind us – and rising – we thought we might be better off standing on for as long as possible.  Some (possibly doubtful) mental arithmetic concluded that we’d need to get more than 0.1 knot advantage from each minute of a starboard tack and our tidal atlas suggested 2.3 knots would be the best we could hope for – so we kept on keeping on.  Slight wind shifts meant some tacking anyway as we approached Hurst but we used this to enjoy a close-up of Rambler 88 and to set ourselves up for the Needles Channel.


Approaching the Shingles we noticed J-Wife with its headsail flogging, so we did a ‘drive by’ to check that Simon and Tom were OK but then on getting a thumbs-up pressed on.  Not long afterwards we saw one of the Class 6 boats (Mako?) suddenly dismasted!  We made a slight detour, prepared to render assistance if required, but there were no obvious casualties and the crew weren’t appearing to ask us for any help; given that there was a large fleet of boats (in some other race) behind us who could be called upon if needed, we again pressed on.


Our ‘do different’ strategy now was not to go offshore as some of the other boats had done, but as far as possible to make a direct line for Weymouth.  We weren’t alone in this but it seemed to work for us, despite some very lively sailing through the overfalls at St Albans Ledge.

A tense dash to the finish line saw us being pursued strongly by Wild Spirit and Felix but we managed to hold them off and crossed the line a little over 6 hours after our belated start.

We knew we had overhauled a few of the Class 5 boats but a 2nd place was a real surprise!  A great day’s sailing and a very enjoyable race.



David Ward

Jackdaw

GBR2947L





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