Up shortly after six to get ready for the round the island race - start time eight a.m. The forecast is looking good with NW winds of 3 to 4, and a favourable tide.
The tide was with us all the way down the western solent so the question was how far out into the channel to go. We settled for inshore to start then going slightly further out until Yarmouth and taking the "slingshot". This seemed as good as any until just before Yarmouth when we were too far downwind to hold the kite and lost out to those that did.
We made up a bit of ground on those that got carried too far down tide of Bridge, and a bit more on those who were aground on the Shingles bank! We rounded tight to bear away down the outside of the island. The best route in these tides is usually to head straight towards the coast a mile or so west of St Cats, but we had to consider the iffy winds off the high cliffs in this NW wind. We stuck to the usual plan and arrived off St Cats with some trepidation as the gusts off the headland can be strong, only to find a big wind hole. A big chunk of the fleet bunched up and places weren't so much swapped as put into a big hat and pulled out again blindfold so see who set off first. This all took about half an hour during which time we raided the greedy bin.
Eventually we were off and heading for Bembridge. The skipper took the opportunity to go below and check that the bunks were all in order, emerging some while later to find us gaining on the boat in front. The sails were quickly adjusted and we fell back promptly.
As we were now near the back of the fleet we were able to relax and start to share the fun around. Sue had a go on the helm and tacked neatly round Bembridge Ledge cardinal and in towards the island shore to dodge the tide. There was only one boat behind that we could see and it was a long way off.
The sun shone weakly, it having been pretty overcast all day, as we made our way up the edge of Ryde sands, leaving the red posts to port and admiring one of our competitors stuck on the sands. They got off under engine and continued sailing. Shortly after this we were passed by the boat that had been behind and "a long way off". B*****.
A couple of boats including the one that had been stuck had gone well inshore but we thought that the rhumb line was good enough as we were in only about 3 metres, however the inshore boats did pull ahead. When we got to Norris there were about four of us in proximity but the feared Norris "Nadgers" did their worst and we played pooh sticks for a while, just off the beach. When the wind picked up it was from well west of north and while two boats headed inshore through the moorings off the Shrape we stayed a bit further out. Surely they would hit the mud and we were in business, but no first one then the other tacked and headed for the line. As we were on starboard and going well we might, just might make the line before the boat just in front, particularly as they were going to have to tack to get inside Snowden. And so it was that we just pipped them to grab second to last!
And so it was that we headed into the Yacht Haven at 19:20, a full twelve hours after we'd left in the morning. We later learnt that we had 16th place as Suzanne had retired after grounding.