Racing: Round the Island Race 2007
Click on a link below to go to that page.  

Festina Rounding the Needles Lighthouse
Image © Patrick Eden / Polly Durrant

Its 0345 and the alarm squawks away unheeded Eventually  a few sleepy heads appear on deck and we sleepwalk our way out of the Hamble   in the midst of  a growing Armada .  An intense aroma of coffee and bacon  gradually shifts from Coronation to Cowes : yep , it must be the  the madness that is the Round the Island race again!

We nearly fell at the first hurdle this year.  A  dummy run as soon as we were allowed near the start found us  struggling  to get back in time and misjudging  it all horribly so that when the gun went were way back in the ranks. All plans of optimum routes went out of the window as we wriggled and fought for such tiny scraps of free air as were available.  Our notes suggested that there were big right handed shifts to be had from a westerly wind , and by Hampstead we were fairly clear  but found ourselves pinned on the left as a 15 degree right hander came in , allowing Light Mefisto and Pavlova past us again. By Yarmouth we had learnt our lesson and came out of the right hand side to make up a few places , scraped past Sconce and with a few small hitches were on the layline to the Needles , whilst some of our rivals overstood.

To our amazement we slipped inside the Varvassi  just ahead of the group . and headed for the cliffs . Our notes suggested that in a Westerly it pays to gybe down close to the cliffs , although we felt this year that we lost the wind if we went closer than a cable. At Freshwater  we gybed onto the layline for Brook Ledges  , went in shore til Atherfield and then right up to the beach to get the early East going eddy to St Cats.  Previous years have taught us to get the inside birth here and protect it aggressively by frequent gybing all the way to Ventnor.  At one point we nearly came a cropper as we gybed onto starboard to avoid a rock – only to be forced back in by a 40.7 on port  , who started swearing at us because he “couldn’t gybe  ,  had a crowd of charters  on board – his main was vanged and there were only two people on board who could sail!” Im writing to his  charter company !

We held to the North of the rhumb through Sandown bay ( there seemed to be better gusts ), trimmed like crazy on the fluky reach to Ryde  and were navigated masterfully over the unfamiliar sands near the forts by Jamie to gain a few more places. Ryde Sands themselves  are always chaotic – and we missed a few shifts here , although with such a narrow corridor to tack up , getting the shifts was a bit of a lottery.  It was however very nice of all the charter boats to plant themselves along the edge – it certainly made our life much easier!

From  the Sands we took the shifts up the Inner Spit , onto Mother Bank and into Osbourne bay , from where we always gain places in a SW by hugging the corner , and  finally tacking up the Shrape  to the finish in a veritable Monsoon that had us scampering below to eat our traditional huge RTI tea below decks. And of course that’s where the fun begins , analysing our track , looking for little  shifts here and tidal advantages there that get jotted down in the book .

Because there’s always next year!



Other Race Reports :