Well… I realise its been a few days since we did this race, but being in my 3rd year at Southampton Uni studying the hardest course (of course I would say that) does mean that other things take your attention away from sailing every once in a while!
What can I say about the race that could sum it up… It was light, tactical, much bobbing around and surprisingly quite a large amount of sleep. We knew on the Friday night that this was going to be a drift-a-thon so dutifully we packed the light jib onboard before departing at the sensible time of 0900 (a lie in compared to other races…) for our start at 1010. It was good to see the Artemis boys out and racing as we missed having the close competition on the Cherbourg Race.
Things started to get interesting when, after a few hours into the race when most of the fleet ran into a hole at the Forts, two huge oil tankers decided to part the sea requiring a number of boats to start their engine and get moving! Finally, the wind filled in and we all set off towards Cussy Buoy, us ahead of the Artemis boys.
As the afternoon was drawing to a close the wind started to become patchy and an absolute nightmare to catch up the ground we had lost out to Artemis (a reoccurring theme of leapfrog) when eventually, after settling down into shifts it decided to have some fun with me at the helm. One moment it was a close reach, the next (after a peel to the Code-0) it swings right round like a… well the wind and means the A4 had to be put up. So, after 45 minutes, when Ian awoke, the foredeck was smothered in sails… Thankfully, Ian had a good shift where the wind did very little changing so we managed to get to Cussy in good time.
Due to the number of holes and shut downs we found ourselves in, we reached Cussy when the tide had just turn against us meaning that our tacking angles were almost 180degrees… For non-sailors that means we had as much forward progress into the wind (and to little surprise the finish) as a crab. Frustratingly, we had held the kite up too long allowing Artemis to slide inside us to the mark.
We decided that the quickest route would be a straight line tacking when the wind changes direction considerably and hopefully it would fill in soon, this turned out to favour us over the boats who went North so once the wind started to fill back in (over 4kts) we found ourselves just ahead of Artemis… Fantastic, now to keep it that way which thankfully we managed to do even with a terrible angle to the final mark where, just for fun we did a Code-0 to A3 peel which went spectacularly!
Finishing near the guys on Letterbox and Cobra and ahead of Artemis was a great spirit raiser for the long slow trip back home where we ended up having to use our engine (we still got back at 0300 on the Monday…). You can see how light it is tacking out of the Solent, and Ian’s happy face in this light stuff!