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