Saturday, 11 June 2011

IDOR 2011 Passage Race to Portsmouth

Friday of the IDOR means a race from Cowes, via Warner to Spit Sand fort in the entrance to Portsmouth.

The wind was super light westerly at the start and the tide against us. So the question was whether to go for the inshore route to cheat the tide or outside and get the best wind. The tide also turns earlier nearer the mainland - but this is a long way off.

We went for the close in option as Phil had spotted that the tide was almost zero inshore. This appeared to work as we sailed high under the spinnaker and swapped the lead with Sue Antonelli, Matt Adams and one or two others. This was tense nail-biting stuff, and it went on for a long time, enlivened only by a large ship coming through the fleet. Those that went very close inshore seemed to do well for a while once they reached Osborne but later it become clear that further out was the way to go as the wind was more consistent.

We went off to the north of the main channel, just east of Browndown before the wind headed us so we dropped the kite. Then the wind just about gave up, and we were back to the IDOR game of pooh sticks. A big grey cloud was raining to the east. Eventually we could see that wind was coming in from the west and we quickly got the kite up, but the damage was done and the boats at the back had all been swept up to join the becalmed leaders. Worse still they were south of us, so nearer to Warner. We were now under spinnaker and sailing a bit higher so able to make good ground.

We dropped the kite close to Warner and gybed to the north side of the channel, the tide now being against us. Some close tacking in the stiff breeze took us to the finish. Results to come soon.


IDOR 2011 - Out West

This year the tides mitigated against a race round the island, so a course out into Christchurch Bay was set.

After the previous windy and wild conditions we set off on a long beat west with the tide and a moderate wind. With a 7 a.m. start it was sunny but still cold.

We beat close inshore at the start to get the extra boost along the green before coming into the main channel as the tide started to ebb west. We were well positioned from the off, so just concentrated on keeping somewhat to the island side for best tide and a bit of converging wind. Once past Hurst the sea state kicked up over the Bridge and the wind dropped somewhat making for difficult sailing. We passed SW Shingles (a mark of the course) and stood on for 100 metres or so before tacking. This was a mistake as we overstood Christchurch Ledge buoy and let Littleton inside.

We gybed back out and hoisted the kite. The next gybe was very prolonged when the lazy sheet was twisted round the pole. Another gybe and we came up high, still with the spinnaker, to round North Head then bore away at Hurst.

The run back to the finish was a simple matter of keeping the boat dead downwind and catching the occasional small surf. The breeze was back up to around 20 knots by now. Again we kept right in the middle of the channel (the tide had now turned) and watched the boats around us for small gains. Pole up, pole down, pole back, weight forward, we tried various moves to get a bit more speed but the action really hotted up at the finish. We went for a close inshore line to get to the closest end of the finish line but were hit by 90 degree wind shifts and lulls under the point.

The good winds meant we were back in time for a late lunch and a good rest in the afternoon sun.

I've not got the results from the race at the moment but think we were around 9th.

Thursday night we had a superb meal at the Corinthian and with racing not until 10 on Friday were able to have a late night.


Big Wednesday

The forecast was F4 to 5, occasionally 6 later, but the reality was a F5 to start, becoming F6 with big gusts of over 30 knots in the afternoon.

Details of the three inshore races get a bit hazy but it just got windier and windier. Flag Yankee denoted compulsory lifejackets, and the no kites rule was brought into force. A couple of boats started with a reefed main. By race two quite a few were reefed but we found that the extra speed downwind allowed for some occasional surfing and more than made up for the rounding ups upwind.

At times the biggest problem was avoiding other boats that were struggling to keep control. We wanted to stay close inshore upwind, but the gusts under Norris were fearsome. Add to the mix a succession of very big ships coming through what they called the main channel and we called the race area. At one point we even furled the headsail so we could stop and wait for an inbound container ship and attendant pilot vessel.

By the last race most were reefed (including ourselves) and a few double reefed. Everybody was wet including the helm.

We were 11th, 6th and 15th.

An exhausting day but great fun.


Day two - the Nab and a short inshore race

The first race of the day was to the Nab and back. A spinnaker run off the start developed into a reach, then a close reach as the wind built. It became a case of "who can hold the kite longest" until near the forts, when some dropped, and some held on, going wide. Under white sails we were close on an increasing wind as the Nab came closer. The sea was beginning to kick up as we came out of the shelter of the IOW.

At this point we were well positioned in the upper half of the fleet with a couple of boats close to windward and a couple who had held onto their kites and were ahead but downwind. As we approached the Nab we rounded with a number of boats quite close. We gave the mark a healthy offing but a boat just ahead of us gybed and rounded up suddenly, T-boning the Nab with a crunch. A quick glance showed that they had some damage but weren't holed or anything life-threatening.

Another reach took us to the red posts off Ryde sands, going inshore to cheat the tide. Our experience with the Portchester mud had told us that the depth sounder would show the best part of minus a metre before we hit bottom, which was reassuring to know as we saw the depth go down to less than a metre.

A sprint across the channel took us to Fastnet insurance and then a beat back to the ISC line. We were 8th and only 6 minutes behind the winners in over four hours of racing. In fact the racing was close throughout, with SOCA in 20th place only ten minutes behind us.

After a brief respite and lunch we had a short second race beating close inshore up to East Lepe then across to Quinnell with the kite and a gybe down to Flying Fish and home. Our 9th place set the standard for the next couple of days. We were very happy with the racing so far, and enjoying the F4-5 wind after a few light wind IDORs of late.


Day one - practice

The handover at Port Solent was late and chaotic. The boats had just come in from the weekend events and it was eight o'clock on Sunday before we were on board and had checked the inventory. We did the formal handover on Monday morning and were in the lock fairly promptly. When the lock was opened we couldn't get out because a big dredger and its even larger barge were sitting in the way, looking big and rusty, and hard. When we were eventually given the go-ahead to squeeze by we ran aground in the mud. The guys operating the lock told us to hand on while they released a tidal wave to power us off the mud and on our way. This worked brilliantly and finally we were off.

The wind was light and fairly fickle for our practise day but this suited us well as this was only the second time our bowman had done the job. We really made the most of the easy conditions and hoisted, gybed and dropped again and again until the wind died away to nothing in time for the practice race. We decided to can proceedings, satisfied that we had pretty much nailed the basics.

So it was into Cowes for the skippers' briefing and dinner at the Island Sailing Club.


Plans to update this blog on a daily basis from Cowes Yacht Haven were scuppered ... by the tide! Apparently the yacht haven were updating their wi-fi and the techies weren't sailors. The aerials attached to the pontoons didn't allow for the pontoons moving up and down with the tide. So, no wifi!

So with apologies to those hoping to see how things went the next few posts are all a bit late, but hopefully none the worse for that.


Saturday, 4 June 2011

IDOR 2011 - Racing Starts Tuesday 7th June

The CSORC IDOR team is once again preparing to do battle with 21 other Civil Service departmental and club crews. We go out to practice on Monday and racing starts on Tuesday with a longish race out of the Solent followed by a short inshore race. This is the first year that we will be racing on the new Sunsail F40 boats, which should prove a bit more exciting than the old Sunfast 37s.

Wish us well.