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 

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