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

IDOR 2012 - Day 1

Over the last few years we've kept up a regular blog from the IDOR, updating it day by day as the week progressed. I have to admit to complete failure this year, but the reason was a good one. Frankly it's been too busy with some fantastic sailing and lively weather. I hope to make amends with a report over the next few days.

CSORC 2 crew of 8 met for the first time at the Sunday evening briefing in the Club bar, to find that we were all rejects from our respective department or club boats, having failed to make the initial crew selection.  But we soon got to know one another, checking the boat and stowing our personal gear and victuals, before dining ashore alongside the CSORC 1 crew.

Monday dawned wet and windy and all CSORC 1 plans to depart Port Solent at 9:30 went in the bin and we spent the morning setting up the boat and running through spinnaker hoists and drops, periodically retiring to the damp saloon to warm up. The weather was what is technically known as "filthy".  Leaving the pontoon was a bit fraught as the strong northerly was threatening to blow us quickly off onto the mud, with only a large, barnacle-encrusted pile a few metres downwind to stop us. Anyway we got away at noon and headed out into the rain and wind. The first race was at two thirty with a startline off Sea View. Sea View Sailing Club very kindly did the honours with a committee boat start. We were very disorganised and a bit slow over the line. The race was essentially a bit of a processional reach off to Cowes but quite suitable for a shakedown in twenty odd knots. We crossed the Island Sailing Club finish line 15th out of 19 runners, the HSE 1 crew having had to go back to base to get their sail repaired. Once back we set about drying off ready for the evening at the ISC.

For CSORC 2 Monday morning also brought a setback when we had to change boats to one with a working VHF set - quite understandable, but re-checking the inventory and re-stowing the gear left even less time for our untried crew to practise our spinnaker work. In the event the wind proved too strong anyway, and “no spinnakers” were ordered for the afternoon race from Seaview to Cowes. We put in two reefs from the outset, which paid off as we saw less-reefed boats struggling in the NW gusts, and we were well pleased to reach the top half of the table in 8th place for our first race.

Ashore we all had a pretty good dinner at the Island Sailing Club after which the skippers and pretenders went off for the briefing in a cold and windy tent. Not surprisingly the briefing was brief, given the temperature.

I have to say that the ISC is one of the most enjoyable places to pass an evening: real hospitality and a great atmosphere.

Nick Bowles

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

IDOR 2012

It's IDOR time again! The 2012 IDOR starts next Monday (11th June) and this time we have two boats entered under the CSORC banner. Phil Armitage is skippering one and Nick Bowles the other. We will try to keep all our followers updated during the week with news from both boats.