Racing: JOG
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JOG 2006

Cowes - Cherbourg - Cowes

A last minute rush of blood to the head saw the Easter cruise changed to the JOG race to Cherbourg and back , There was the slight disadvantage of  a 0500 alarm call to negotiate  , but 0730 on Good Friday saw  Ben , Bryony , Ann , Pippa , Edward ( just!)  Graham and myself scoot across the JOG line on a cold and misty morning  pursued by the JOG fleet under kites .  The weather men had sold this race to us a few days earlier as being a light sunny NW reach – but the wind was obstinately SW and once we cleared Dunnose – foggy. Yuck.

  The first sign of improvement was a veer that tantalisingly gave us the chance to crack off 10 degrees – if we dared  - as the  spring tide at the end of the passage  was due to  be East going. We did dare and the speed crept passed 7 knots  , though it took huge concentration to keep it there – not an easy task when you are cold wet and queezy as we bucketed into 16 knots of breeze. The fog was not an issue , partly because of the radar , but mainly because , as Bryony kindly pointed out – my cold was such that even the tankers would hear me blowing my nose , “so lets not bother with the fog horn!” It did however mean that we had no idea of where our rivals were,

  And then , 2 hours out of the Wight the fog cleared , the sun shone and the bigger boats began to come past. The forecast was for the wind to drop before we got in , and then come up from the East , so the hourly plots were critical  in order to position ourselves correctly.  2 hours out the wind began to drop , and so did our speed  , but it looked as if we had been right to crack off earlier as we were going to come in a mile or two up tide of he Westarn entrance. With 8 miles to go the wind veered enough for a shy kite and we slipped across the now flat waters at 4 knots – watching as the boats ahead ran into the calm a mile off the entrance and were swept down tide.

  When our turn came , we were ready , turned up tide and dropped an anchor in 30 metres . Already the smoke on the shore had turned to the West and 30 minutes later we got an Easterly drift that allowed us to up anchor and rehoist the kite to slip in on the opposite shy reach . The bigger boats in the class above had escaped the calm so some corrected above us  , but we were first in our class : a good start to our offshore season.

  With the boat already loaded to the gunwhales with Easter Eggs, our first  prize of – you guessed it – Easter eggs  - seemed guaranteed to make it a nauseous trip back on Easter Sunday. But , after an extremely soggy Saturday  , Sunday dawned with a brisk Westerly that gave us a fast shy kite reach , on the edge all the way home at 8 knots plus in brilliant sunshine. Once again , the trick was to get the tidal offsets right and the concentration maintained which we achieved to a remarkable degree. A little J 92 was in her element with a flat reaching asymmetric  that got her surfing away from us once we were clear of the land in conditions that she might have been designed for . However   we must have done  the final approach at a better angle as we were back on her transom by Bembridge  , having kept all the other asymmetrics at bay with only two broaches all the way over. We shot away from her on the beat up the Solent , but failed to save our time  by two minutes, to take second place.

 8  hours from Cherbourg to Cowes via the Forts in full sunshine ! We had better not tell anyone or they will all want to do it!


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