Racing: Round the Island Race 2005
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With light airs a racing certainty , the start of this years race was looking like a nightmare. Our game plan in the forecast light SE wind was to sail up the island shore as close as possible to the East of the inevitable split betwen the SE wind coming over the Island - and the NE remnant of the same wind as it makes its way fitfully down the western Solent. This means a crowded start off the Green with the whole fleet blanketing and rolling you unless you get an absolute cracker of a start and can sail high angles to get away. We didnt!

It took us to Saltmead before we could work our way to the inside where we simply two sailed away from the fleet with our own private breeze.Past Newtown it looked as if we had it won, but there are as many snakes as ladders in this race and by Yarmouth our trusty SE wind had failed us leaving the folk on the mainland shore looking better and better in their less fickle NE wind. By Hurst there were perhaps 2 Sigmas ahead as we drifted past Sconce , picked up the SE' er again as it tumbled off the cliffs and we were away.

Its not so much the Needles rocks that are the problem , its all the motor boats that try to warn you off and end up forcing you onto the wreck. We managed to force a way through , left Goose rock close to port and shot out into Scratchells bay . 4 tacks later saw us at Sun point and heading a mile and a half offshore , into the foul tide but in much better breeze than those struggling under the cliffs. By Brook ledges we were back in out of the tide , short tacking and searching for the eddy up to St Cats in 12 knots of wind .We hadnt seen a Sigma since the Needles , but had a bit of a fright when one appeared in front of us. A quick check revealed she was racing non IRC and we soon had her tucked behind us. At this point Kiss , the current hot X332 stormed past , powered up and pointing a degree or two higher suggesting that we werent doing too badly .

Halfway , round St Cats and its still a beat. The East going tide was pushing a finger up the shore so we continued short tacking to Ventnor , where we headed offshore in the now light wind , anticipating a veer. Kiss went in,got headed and flopped onto port heading for Bembridge. A collective groan went up from the crew , but with fingers tightly crossed we stuck to our plan and were gradually headed , til we could tack ( onto Starboard) and nearly lay the mark. Our breeze slowly built , whilst in Sandown they were going nowhere.

From Bembridge it was downhill all the way , skirting Ryde sands by inches with thankfully noeone near enough to luff us ashore , and helped by the stranded boats who had got it wrong Just about our only worry was a French 40.7 who luffed us into the tide at Old Castle Point , but it cost us at worst a minute . Of course its the minutes that count and as we made our way slowly home we went from 5th overall to 36th as the small boats came tumbling through.

So thats it for another year ; fascinating , infuriating , exhausting and utterly addictive as ever , this years edition had possibly the nicest weather we can remember . Next year we'll do better!


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