Racing: Cervantes Trophy 2007
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Eddystone Race 2007

Eddystone and Back - 2007-06-05

I think we will put this one down to experience!

 We chose the wrong side of the beat out of the west Solent – theoretically there should be more wind in a SW on the island shore – but there was precious little and the mainland fleet got out a lot earlier. Presumably they had less foul tide over there – or it turned earlier. We bounced on and off Warden Ledge , leaving Jamie muttering at his game boy , and earning the title of “Rock Hopper Wilkinson”.

We then chose to take a long port to Swanage and get lifted on starboard round Anvil point.  The track looked superb  on the chart – but Persephone crossed us shortly after – so presumably that was wrong too.

Having lost 3 hours trying the inshore passage  in the last Fastnet  we opted for the offshore route.  Persephone initially looked as if she was going inside , changed her mind , but didn’t come far enough off – and we both spent an hour or so anchored in 50 metres . Not only was this astonishingly hard work to retrieve , it was slower than going inside . Imperator , rating .96 , broke through at the Bill  , probably because with a SW wind , the S going stream on the W side of the Bill gave a good lee bow, whereas offshore we were just going sideways or backwards. That’s our third wrong decision.

We correctly  anticipated a southerly shift , but missed the gate at Start , so went well offshore. There was a delirious 20 mts before the Eddystone when we actually had fair tide  , but of course once we were round we were fated to spend another 6 hours plugging the tide at  the Salcombe peninsula.  Longue Pierre was seen coming back several hours in front of us . We need to find out what they did at the Bill. Inside methinks.

Our second night was spent inching  across Lyme bay before  coming to yet another stop  10 miles off the Bill again.  This time we concentrated on stemming the tide , and only crabbed north over the last hour of ebb. We must have done well in the night as we were up with bigger boats who rounded some 40 mts in front of us at the light, and managed to hang on to them in the gentle beat home . Anvil point was our 5th and final gate – and it looked as if that was going to slam shut as well when the wind died just short of it- but to our great relief we were saved  by  a sea breeze (only light , because although there was good cumulus – the gradient Easterly did not favour a stronger breeze)   which took us home for 1500.  Little Imperator got through as well  and came home less than an hour astern- so that was 3rd in class and about zillionth overall. The big boats must have had fair tide at all the headlands!

So , very gentle winds and pleasant weather  , but yet another lesson that in this offshore racing  business, its navigational strategy that wins races. We need to find some experienced offshore racer  and pick his brains – or else its going to take us about 20 years to make enough mistakes to learn what we should do! Anyone know who to ask?


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