2nd September 2017 – Solent Gaffers Annual Race

  • Start position – Cowes
  • Start time – 09:20
  • Start engine hrs – 733.6
  • Towards – Cowes
  • ETA –
  • Finish position –  Cowes
  • Finish time – 12:40
  • Finish engine hrs – 735.5
  • Distance travelled – 8nm
  • Skipper – Richard
  • Crew – Louise, Tim A, Lynne A
  • Weather – N/W 0-2, sun
  • Tide – HW Portsmouth 10:00
    • np->sp 25%
  • New faults –

There’s a good breeze as I get up, but it’s not forecast to last. L arrives on time on the RedJet, Tim and Lynne join us and we’re ready to go. The topsail and yankee jib are soon up and we join the large fleet milling about off Cowes. The wind is in the North. Our course is West, then South West, so out comes the cruising chute. By the time we’ve got it hoisted and ready to unfurl we’re 0.5nm above the line, with 5 minutes to the start. The wind has backed to the West and is dropping. We switch back to the yankee, crossing the line close hauled and 5 minutes late.  

Most of the fleet are further out in the tide. We pick up the strong inshore tide as we approach RYS and are soon working our way back into the fleet. The wind is still dropping as we pass the first mark, ‘Party’. Then it’s ‘Gurnard Ledge’ which is almost directly down tide. Unfortunately ‘almost’ isn’t good enough as the wind fades away completely. We see the boats ahead turning back towards us, but being swept the wrong side of the mark. Only ‘Sophie’ makes it. We soon join those passing the wrong side of the mark. There’s no anchoring in this part of the Solent due to cables lying on the bottom, so there’s nothing to be done. A few anchor as we come out of that area, but there’s no chance of enough wind to get back up tide and complete the course in time. So it’s engine on and back to Cowes.

The afternoon is spent aboard, back in Shepard’s Wharf. Then it’s ‘prize giving’ and supper at Island Sailing Club. After ‘Sophie’ wins prizes for being both the first and last boat to cross the line, the rest of the prizes are awarded to the boats in each class with the slowest handicaps. i.e. Assuming that everyone finished at the same time. Everyone enters in to the spirit of it, which converts a potential damp squib into a highly satisfactory gathering.

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