So… It was 0500, for most normal people the alarm blaring in your right ear would be swiftly dealt with and eyes rapidly returned to the snooze position. It wasn’t to be though today, the alarm going off just meant it was time to start preparing the boat for this year’s J.P.Morgan’s Round the Island Race. Following yesterday’s write up…
During the dash in, dash out breakfast of bacon and sausage sandwiches it was unanimously decided that the wind wasn’t looking great with sad, droopy flags lining the breakwater of the marina, probably mirroring our faces at the prospect of a driftathon around the 50mile course that was the IoW. Never the less, we divided up into our respective crews and traipsed down to the boat not without picking up another crate of water and the all important breakfast.
Our timing was perfect as when we arrived back on the boat the others blocking our path to the start had already departed and allowed a swift departure for a spot of reverse motoring kite practice just so that everyone had some sort of idea what was going on… That wasn’t giving them credit, they all remembered a fantastic amount and required very little nudging from Jamie or I in the right direction.
The start was quite an interesting affair with the multitude of boats already on the startline and an absolutely stonking tide legging it past Cowes sweeping us across the line. If we hadn’t started traveling downwind when we did I think we would have been OCS for a very long time! We made it though and had a great start in clear air and space as the cannon (yes we started with cannons!) went. It was quite a bizarre first leg out to the Needles as we had moments when both tacks seemed to be in a header, frustratingly though we found ourselves the wrong side of two and lost out massively on the hard work already done. Not a problem though as the armada of vessels to windward meant we had a pretty good idea about what was going on.
Rounding the Needles we opted to play it safe and go around the wreck, there were 5 boats who found it… where there was actually slightly better pressure. This is where the tactics really came in, was it out in the better breeze or in by the shore where the better current was?? Seeing as we hated sitting around lolling about, we chose the right flying the kite as best we could in shut down number ‘I lost count after the first few’! The wind was actually backing as we went on and faced us with another difficult decision, put the heavy jib up and hopefully the wind will stay with us out here, or keep the kite up and travel towards the shore? Again, we went with the outer route as none of us liked the sitting around with no wind feeling.
Unfortunately, as shutdown after shutdown meant constant carparks, the decision was voiced that there was no way we would have made it around in time for the dinner at 1900 and thus ‘curfew’ at 1700 so after lunch we allowed ourselves one more complete shutdown before calling it times up. This came all to soon for us sailors, but after much ummming and ahhing Pete and John made the ultimate decision and I radioed in our retirement from racing.
The day was by no means over though as we had to get back around Bembridge ledge then back up the Solent. This did mean the crew collectively had a nap leaving Jamie and I (once the power nap, honest it was a quick one) to take her past all the boats who were starting to move before we ultimately put the kite back up to absolutely fly down towards and into the Solent. There was quite a strange phenomena though just outside Ryde where there was an instant loss of wind meaning boats were hypothetically slamming on their brakes and parking up in clusters. So, seeing as we had stopped racing, the entire crew helped out to drop the kite perfectly into the bag and threw on the engine back into the Haven.
Dinner that night was a mixed affair once we had got in as we were the first boat back in so meant we were relaxing in the tent watching everyone else sail through the finish line a couple of hours later. But atleast the dinner was fantastic with good company and an enjoyable post dinner social in the tent/RTI area thingy. It wasn’t a particularly late night though seeing as most of us had been up since 0500 so 19ish hours awake does wear you down with the knowledge the boat needed to be packed away and driven back on Sunday (which was dutifully done and included a vacuum!!)
Thanks to JPMorgan for a fantastic Round the Island Race and to our crew for being an absolutely great bunch both on and off the water. Hopefully see you guys next year…