Cowes Poole Cowes revised race

Race Report from J-Fever Not Poole and Back


We had a crew of six for these races, including two debutants, one of whom had little racing experience.

The committee announced the course several times and kindly gave those of us unfamiliar with the local racing marks their  lat and long. The skipper retired to the chart table to puzzle over the information, to identify the marks and put them on the electronic chart. He popped up to go through the gate and give instructions on sails.

Not the best start, the new foredeck crew had practised some macrame so we dropped the  code 2 and raised the spinnaker bare headed and off to Nab East. Unfortunately Nab East is not to the East of the nab, and skippers hearing is not all it might be. So we sailed on although the rest of the fleet had inexplicably decided to go around a buoy not identified by the skipper. Realisation dawned and we retraced our route to follow the fleet.

It was a lovely sunny day, good crew training so they practised more macrame, practised helming, practised drinking tea and coffee, and sail trimming. The wind increased, black clouds appeared and rain and squalls ensued. We rounded the windward mark and then sailed serenely back towards the finish watching the next black cloud with apprehension. It came with heavy rain but no squally wind.

The Island Sailing Club made us very welcome and our thanks to them and to the shore crew.

Sunday dawned fine and calm. The clouds and the wind increased as start time approached. Another spinnaker start. We broke out our shiny new kite, hope it was admired, trimmer said she needed shades, sun or not. Hasty briefing of new crew on what to do when we broach. We had the gybes sorted and enjoyed the broad reach and gybed successfully at the first mark. Lots of interrogating of tide tables to decide where to go on the beat, and as the wind increased and the rain came down, sitting at the chart table puzzling about where to tack seemed the best option, so one of us stayed drier than others. With more wind than we wanted we completed the rest of the race under plain sail.

Our thanks to the shore crew again, I hope they had hot coffee to sustain them.

Shades of Blue – Cowes Poole Revised Race report

With half the crew in Cowes on Friday night, we had some advance intelligence that Saturdays race to Poole was going to be changed to a Solent based race, but as the start times were unchanged, we didn’t get any extra time in our nice warm bunks. The crack crew of Ed, Spike, Chris, Lis, Karen and Graham were raring to go for our 0850 start with porridge and the first of many cups of coffee inside us. Although the forecast was to get windy later, the start was in bright sunshine and a gentle NW breeze, so the A2 spinnaker was deployed and, although we were a few boat lengths shy of the line, we rolled over the top of the leading boats and set off towards the forts, and put the kettle on for more coffee and an uneventful run out to Nab East buoy. 

We couldn’t decide whether the next leg to Warner would have been another spinnaker leg or not, but the first two class 6 boats tried it and seemed to be disappearing down towards Chichester, so we dropped ours in good time and discovered that it was a close fetch. 

From Warner, it was a long beat against the tide, and we led the fleet back into the Solent, closely followed by two Sigma 38’s With Alacrity and Marta. Initially, this took us into unfamiliar territory, short tacking into Gilkicker point and along the shore in Stokes Bay, and after a while we brewed up some more coffee to help us decide whether to go north or south of the Bramble Bank or go across it ( it was close to high water ).  The two Sigmas split and went either side, and we played the percentages and went straight across the middle.

It seemed unlikely that they could both be right, but when we came back together, with the tide just turning in out favour, we were firmly in third place with some work to do.  The wind was getting up a bit by that time, so when we rounded Solent Bank buoy for the run home, we initially didn’t set a spinnaker, especially after watching Assassin destroy one of theirs, but after a gybe, we plucked up the courage and popped up the ancient heavy A3, complete with Shades logo, and it behaved impeccably. 

Approaching the Island shore, we dropped it, gybed and reset it for the final approaches to the finish. Here we were stymied by Prime Suspect trying to cross the line on Starboard on the edge of control with a wrapped spinnaker. We couldn’t go in front of them, and going behind them would have risked missing the final mark. Fortunately, they were still going pretty fast, and we just sneaked between their stern and Gurnard buoy to finish. This probably cost us the 5 seconds that separated us from Marta in second place. With Alacrity were worthy winners another 5 minutes ahead.

Shades of Blue – Poole Cowes Revised Race report

Sunday dawned bright and sunny again, with a moderate westerly breeze warning us of bigger things to come. Another pretty good start, and a sharp hoist of the trusty A3, allowed to take and early lead and set off towards the forts, closely followed by Jackdaw, our main contender for the Class 3 inshore trophy.

Jackdaw made a couple of attempts to pass us to windward, but we used two unsuspecting cruising boats to block their advances ( sorry about that, whoever you were ), and eventually we created a bit of a gap and had a brisk run down the Solent, sadly all too busy to make coffee this time.

At Mother Bank, we had an exciting but pretty flawless gybe and flew up to Browndown, where we dropped in increasing wind, for the beat up to South Ryde Middle against the tide. As the crew work had been immaculate up to here, we decided to set the small kite once again for the reach up to East Bramble, where not many others risked it, and it seemed to pay off as we covered the ground very quickly. 

After a cautiously early drop, we started the long beat back to the finish, not risking the Brambles this time, as the tide was lower and the waves were increasing. In common with most boats around us, we tucked a reef into the main at this point as the wind was really starting to howl, and as we approached the Cowes breakwater, we felt we had a pretty healthy lead. 

Unfortunately, the wind shifts conspired against us, shoving us out into the tide when the boats immediately behind seemed to sail straight up shore to the line. We eventually made it across the line, but lost enough time to lose out on corrected time to Jackdaw for the win.

Congratulations to them, it leaves us extremely close on points going into the last weekend.

Many thanks to Nick and the team for putting on two great races in difficult circumstances, their decision to keep us all in the Solent turned out to be a great one, as racing out in Poole Bay in Sundays conditions would have been very unpleasant.

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