Racing: Short-Handed
Click on a link below to go to that page.  

Saturday saw Festina off the Gurnard start line at some unearthly hour with no-one else on board to helm while I went to the loo! The race hadnt even started and already I'm in trouble. A quick check in the sailing instructions showed a lamentable lack of signals for "vessel not under command " ( two loo rolls in the rigging?) so I picked up a mooring buoy just uptide of the line which had the addd advanttage of keeping me from being OCS in the light winds.

I decided that the start would probably be a fairly laid back affair , so with 30 secs to go was somewhat taken aback to see about 10 boats with kites already up approaching the line on Port.Clearly I was going to have to re-evaluate the opposition buit refrained from hoisting as I thought the wind would go ahead once we cleared Gurnard and theywould have to drop , leaving me to 2 sail serenely past .

It didnt go to plan. The wind did go ahead , and they all sagged off into the middle of the Solent where they retained the breeze , whilst i sat becalmed to windward watching them sail off into the mist. Eventually a little easterly sprang up which allowed me to gybe off for the mainland shore , and gybe back at a hot angle into Hurst whilst they languished in a calm zone up by Yarmouth and I was back in the race.

The gybes and the drop at Hurst went very well , but sorting out the mess as we fetched to the Needles at 8 knots was exhausting! Now i know what the crew get up to after a spi drop I promise to never nag you ever again. By contrast the beat round the back of the island was a doddle with Festina in her element and vying for the lead. She is so well balanced there was plenty of time to eat , pack the kite - and yes , even go to the loo!

The wind ran out at Bembridge and we spent the next 3 hours gently drifting round to Ryde. In these conditions the term thrilling needs to be used with caution although when the rain soaked spinnaker briefly filled , or the wing got up to 3 knots , or even (gasp ) the speed increased to 1 knot I definitely felt a flutter of excitement

In the end the course was shortened at N Sturbridge with a HOD 35 five mts ahead - and the next three very close. I spoted a shift , gybed and nosed in front of the other two but just as i was about to triumph , a ferry sped by, its wake stopped me dead and they both squeeked across a few seconds in front. High drama indeed , but we had a fairly easy win on handicap.

Do you have to be bonkers to enjoy it? Well , for the last 3 hours it definitely helped , but overall it was really rather fun. I might even try it again.

Other Race Reports :