Wednesday, 29 May 2013

IDOR 2013 Tuesday Round the Island

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.

IDOR 2013 Monday 20th

Last year we introduced a real race on the Monday after several years of "phoney war" Mondays. The idea had a mixed reception, in part due to the lively conditions we experienced, which limited the practice that was practical. This year it seemed to work better as we just popped out of the Hamble and straight into some tacking practice in Southampton Water.

A bear away down to the Solent proper and a reach off up the western solent eventually led to some tentative spinnaker work. The assymetric spinnakers were easy to handle and encouraged a bit of adventure. We managed a few hoists before heading over to Cowes and the Island Sailing Club start line for the first race. This was to be a simple offshore race but somehow this hadn't got through to the Island Sailing Club who set a course round the cans. With a downwind and downtide start this was a bit of a baptism of fire that would have been a problem with a different boat. As it was we managed fine, until the first spinnaker leg.

During the hoist the kite halyard shackle came off and we were left with a flailing halyard half way up the mast. Nobody fancied a mid-Solent climb so we settled for a series of white sail downwind legs which was a bit frustrating but this only counted for single points despite being an "offshore" race, right? Wrong - the SIs hadn't included this piece of information so the committee had to award double points.

Anyway we didn't exactly set the field on fire as we were so slow downwind but we regained some ground on each upwind leg finishing 16th out of the 18 boats.

IDOR 2013

Once again CSORC has a crew together for the IDOR. We had planned to get two boats organised but time and complications thwarted our efforts, so one it had to be. This year the boats were from Fairview Sailing - Oceanis 37 cruisers with coachroof mainsheets!! Uurgh.

In truth we thought the choice of boat, while not ideal, was good as Sunsails F40s are just too big for many sailors. Just lifting the spinnaker pole is a job. Even bringing the large and heavy spinnaker up from below sometimes needs two people. Anyway it is off to the Hamble we go. Very upmarket after Port Solent.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

IDOR 2012 - Friday Passage Race to Portsmouth

Out with a bang, not with a whimper. We were gilling around at the start for this race in some pretty breezy conditions, with the wind whistling over the hill west of Cowes. The tide was going west so keeping inshore would be favourite, though with an eye on the Norris Nadgers, the variable and unreliable wind coming over the hill by Norris castle.

Once the race started the wind seemed to be dropping right off so most boats headed further offshore in the wind shadow off Norris. The light wind persisted into Osborne. We were about mid-fleet. Most boats had started with one reef but gradually heading down the island shore in the shallow water reefs were shaken out. One or two boats tried a spinnker but for most it was too close and faster with white sails. Passing Ryde the wind picked up considerably. We held on to full sail thinking that this was wind accelerating over the land.

With the foul tide everybody went between the forts and Ryde red post, by which time there were a few broaches amongst the full-sail boats. Still we held on. Approaching Warner we were thinking we could really do with less sail but in the interests of not losing places held on, executed an excellent gybe at Warner and headed for Gleeds, just west of Spit Sand fort which was the finish line.

If anything the wind was increasing so we tacked round at Gleeds and gave away a place in so doing. With nobody close behind us and in the interests of keeping the goose-neck so repeated this action to round Spit Sand and cross the line, for a spectacular end to the week. We briefly saw a gust of 37 knots on the approach to Portsmouth harbour. And the sun shone all day.

All in all a great five days. I never understand the boats that retire or don't compete on the Friday racing just so they can go home early, particularly on a sunny windy day like we had just had. Yet again we were beaten by CSORC 2.

Not a brilliant set of results for us but the crew did really well and the only disappointment was that the windy conditions and reaching legs meant that the foredeck crew had less fun things to do than they might, but that's offshore racing.

Nick Bowles, CSORC 1

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

IDOR 2012 - Thursday inshore races

The inshore races on Thursday were perfectly scheduled. Firstly, it was the day of the regatta dinner so we could be sure we wouldn't be stuck somewhere off Ryde as the dinner started. Secondly it was pretty breezy and would have been a bit lively outside the Solent. And finally there were three classic yachts racing in the Solent very near to where we were.

Thursday’s trio of races used committee boat starts giving more choice of starting areas. Once again the wind speed meant “no spinnakers” were signalled which, if not playing to our strengths, meant our potential weaknesses were less exposed. Race 5 was twice round a sausage where CSORC 2 learnt only for the second lap that goose-wing was the best down-wind set - only 11th place. Then another setback, as the start of Race 6 saw us being pushed outside the committee boat so we had to tack round and start again in last place. Even so we made up a few places to finish 11th again.

 An excellent start to Race 3 was made even better by 5 boats being called OCS, and then came a bold move. A large tow heading West threatened to split the fleet crossing its path southwards to the first mark. We had put ourselves on the lay line, but could we clear the stern of the tow without tacking? Intense focus on the transit and Andrew’s superb helming meant we cleared the tow safely, made the mark in 2nd place, and held it round the next mark. But another tactical error by skipper Phil lost us a few places so that we finished 6th just ahead of CSORC 1.

The prizegiving after the Regatta Dinner on Thursday evening saw CSORC go up four times to receive silverware, bottles, and a first time skipper medallion.  CSORC 1 won the Elite Cup for the most improved boat, while CSORC 2 won not only the pontoon party prize but also the CSORC Shield for the leading CSSA club boat.  It was the first time the club has won its own trophy, and the target for next year’s IDOR is to hang on to it!

Nick and Phil

Saturday, 16 June 2012

IDOR 2012 Round the Island

The Round the Island race is the highlight of the IDOR. Some years it doesn't happen due to tides or weather, and this year there was a risk of too little wind.

The warning signal was at 7 o'clock if I remember correctly. Yes, I know, but apparently there are two seven o'clocks every day. CSORC 1 played it safe staying close hauled in the very light south-easterly winds and strong west-going tide, until 30 seconds from the start when we bore away and headed for the line. We weren't first over the line by any means but several boats missed the line altogether, or were over early, with no hope of ever sailing back. One boat simply parked on the Trinity House buoy - the outer distance mark.

We did really well for the first half of the run west, hoisting the kite for the first time and keeping out in the stream. Gradually we overhauled all the boats on the island side. We knew the tide was a bit stronger inshore after Hamstead Ledge but weren't quick enough getting in and several boats got ahead. Once past Sconce we were headed and dropped the kite for a close reach up to SW Shingles, the first mark of the course.

Tacking for the mark we were denied water by a boat over which we had a massive overlap (while on port). It wasn't worth risking a collision and in luffing we stopped dead in the slop and light wind. We struggled to get up to speed after that and somehow ended up in a familiar place - back of the fleet. A quick check for a bucket tied to the transom revealed nothing.

We stayed out despite a weak contrary tide, thinking that the wind would be cleaner, and could just about fetch Atherfield Ledge where the tide would first turn eastwards inshore. Before we got there Andy on bow called a lobster pot dead ahead one hundred metres. Despite this warning the pot seemed to exert a magnetic influence and one minute we seemed to be sailing well clear and the next minute we had stopped. Not a bucket but a pot tied to the transom. Quick easing of the sails got us free.

Once round St Catherines we headed straight for Bembridge Ledge (the second mark), sailing somewhat free. A bear-away spinnaker hoist at Bembridge had us being taken down by the tide on to two large moored ships. The gybe was taking too long so we dropped the kite and rolled out the jib, then gybed. This let one boat through. By now the thin cloud layer had gone and the sun was shining.

Once past the red post at Ryde Sands we hoisted the kite on port and flew past Paul Free's SOCA 1 entry as if they were standing still - which they were, being aground on the sands. I've done a few races round the island, both in the IDOR and the big Round the Island Race, and usually you end up with a tricky beat against the tide, trying to get as far inshore as possible without running aground. But this time it was easy peasy with a dead run down to Norris and then a small change of course to the line.

So, mainly by dint of other peoples' bad luck we ended up 14th.

CSORC 2's round the island race got off to a slow start, with spinnakers down to Hurst, but there almost the entire fleet dropped kites within the space of a minute for the reach down the Needles channel.  By the time the tide had helped us out to SW Shingles, neck and neck with CSORC 1, the breeze had picked up, and we started a long up-tide beat to St Catherine’s.  Getting the right distance inshore/offshore proved elusive, and we fell back to around 17th place until some more shore-hugging off Ventnor and Shanklin made up some places.  Rounding Bembridge Ledge, hoisting the spinnaker, and Andy’s sweet trimming saw us drawing well clear of the six boats behind and making good ground on those ahead.  Then a tactical error of not going inshore to Osborne bay and gybing (not yet practised) meant we lost two places in the last two miles of the race, to end at 16th  -  or so we thought.  The final results showed that five boats had been disqualified for using engines at the start, and we were placed 12th.

With all three offshore races complete, CSORC 2 had secured 7th place out of 20 overall, and been ahead of CSORC 1 in all three!  But so far we were untested inshore . . .

Nick Bowles and Phil Armitage 

IDOR 2012 - Tuesday: the western solent

After a foul wet and windy day on Monday we had an early start to catch the tide west on Tuesday, but thankfully the wind had moderated and the rain held off (more or less). Unfortunately summer temperatures also held off. The fancy instruments on the F40s told the awful truth - ten of your degrees centigrade, and that was late morning.

Tuesday’s races were another offshore followed by an inshore.  The first course was simple: cross the ISC start line going west leaving North Head to port and finish. The wind was still from the north so it was again something of a procession with boats staying in the deep water and reaching under white sails. CSORC 1 kept to the main channel going west; crossing to Hurst and then sailing the rhumb line to North Head, somewhere mid-fleet. Coming back we were struggling to stay high and ended up fighting the tide mid-channel. We put in a tack to the mainland shore and ended up at the back of the fleet. No problem, our tidal advantage would pay off and we'd gradually overhaul the back markers. Well, it never happened and we ended up last!

But for CSORC 2, the reach down to Hurst was followed by some nifty shore-hugging tactics after rounding North Head, then crossing to the Island side for the reach back to Cowes, bringing an improved result of 7th for our second offshore.
A break for lunch on the hoof and then an inshore race. For several of CSORC 1 crew this was a first round-the-cans experience; and a good one too.  OK, we didn't do that well but everybody found it fun to be leaping around rather than sitting on the rail in the cold, on a white sail reach. 17th out of 19 but we were quite quick upwind at least. On the last run the wind went from "breezy" to "light" and we missed the chance to hoist the kite - not having practised this manoeuvre.

However, for CSORC 2 another setback in the form of a jammed furler meant we could not make the start of Race 3, so we retired to get it fixed in Cowes. Bill from Sunsail had the problem solved in minutes, which gave us time to prepare for the evening’s pontoon party with our paired boat (HASSRA/DWP). At Thursday’s prize-giving we learnt that Paul’s tin whistle and our guests’ “dark and stormys” had so charmed the judges they awarded us the pontoon party prize!

Phil Armitage