Racing: Winter Series 2007
Click on a link below to go to that page.  
Hamble Winter Series 2007

Click here for archived Winter Series reports

Race 2:

With 5 crew new to the boat , one of whom had returned to sail with us after a gap of 20 years , we were out on the water at 0800 for some serious practice.  3 1/2  hours later we were still practicing so that the new crew must have wondered what they had let themselves in for – but in our defence I have to say that a)  we were waiting for the wind and b) we had deliberately “forgotten” the Sunday papers in deference to our  French  (rugby ) and Estonian ( soccer)  crewmembers!

All this obsessionality  seemed to be for nought as we judged the line to be port biased but came out on a starboard lift on the leeward end looking pants!  Still , we were in clear air and trundling along and after 5 minutes  the wind backed allowing us to cross all but one of the fleet.

After that it all got very confusing as we raced through the 105’s and even some 109’s   so working out who was in which fleet  became confusing to say the least.  Suffice to say that  we seemed to get most of the shifts , and crucially the windward lay line spot on to round in the top 4 of the fleet and 1st Sigma.

Some tight angles and a couple of excellent gybes and a tight drop saw us 2nd on the water , at which point it all started to fall apart. The wind appeared to back persistently allowing a  332 who had banged the left hand side to go past , then up near the windward mark an SJ32 appeared from the right hand side – what was that about? Finally we had no less than 3 attempts at  the windward layline and there was Persephone steaming up , with Light not far behind.

Still , even in idiot mode , it was going to be difficult to throw any more places  once we were whooshing West on the ebb , but it was a bit worrying when we gybed within centimetres of the finishing boat  to be met by blank faces and no hoot.  No times taken! Whoops – I think we will duck out of this and leave it to the race committee to find the least embarrassing way out of this horlicks!

Race 3

And still our Indian Summer marches on.  The forecast was for another windless day but after an hour or so’s wait , a patchy little  SE wind gave us a marvellous  and sunny days racing.

The line seemed square  ( it wasn’t – it went right in the last minute of the sequence!) so we took off from the leeward end to head for the early flood inshore at Lee on Solent.  An  X 34 came up and gassed us , forcing us to tack off  , and worse still we were soon put about again . 2 tacks in light airs  soon after the start – not ideal !  Already however the shape of the race was emerging . Light went hard left , ran out of wind , and died. Boats who went off hard right  seemed to die too – so it was all about being in the bands of wind .. Those that started from the Committee boat end and took a long leg inshore seemed to do best – amongst these were Dragonfly , who was first Sigma round. We picked up a lift inshore which pulled us back and we  rounded with Persephone and With Alacrity  and headed high on the downwind leg. For a while the wind  veered South – with more wind out on our side , allowing us to roll past the Sigmas – but down by the leeward mark it came astern and we gybed – only to have With Alacrity steam up and claim the inside berth.  Superb crew work allowed us to tack clear and get ahead again – only to throw it away with a poorly judged slam dunk that allowed Alacrity though once more at the top of the beat and she simply sailed away on the run. A good , tight  exciting race.

So second Sigma and a lowly 9th in IRC gives us something to work on  if we are to rescue this series.  Great – its much more fun that way!


Race 4

Blimey – this series goes from the sublime -   warm sunny but windless  -  to the ridiculous –wet  and blowing dogs off chains. With the wind at a steady 25  and gusting 30  we  motored into the lee of Calshot , went through the drills for windward and leeward broaching and how to avoid them  , hoisted the sails  and set off upwind . We seemed to be in control with a fully bladed  main and No 2 , so we hoisted a kite and called for a gybe before we got too intimidated. It went OK , but the way the lee shore was rushing towards us made us go for a hasty drop  and brought home that these were conditions to treat with respect.As stert time approached it got wetter and windier , but we decided to hang on to full main for the first beat at least.

I groaned a bit when we realised that there was 15 to 20 degrees of starboard bias , but instead of the expected committee boat end scrum . the fleet seemed to have been blown off down the line and the way was clear for an uncontested start inches from the gun. This was good Sigma weather and we tonked off to the port layline , benefiting from the constant wind bend  that a SW brings in this area , and arriving at West Knoll ahead of all but that horribly fast X 34 , with whom we raced down the run. He was the first to broach  but we soon followed suit  in the biggest gust of the day , spending a significant amount of time laid flat . Thereafter we played safe , with the pole further forward than usual  and the spinnaker slightly depowered , an experienced hand on the vang to prevent another  leeward broach and everyone ready to counteract a windward roll ( pole forward , sheet on , main in  , vang on) When we looked up there was chaos behind  – the X 34 seemed to have lost his spinnaker gear – most boats were white sailing and  one or two looked in significant difficulties.

The Race officer , God bless him , had set a series of windward leeward loops that we could do without a gybe as long as we headed deep , and in fact the wind probably eased off towards the end so that we were able to fly the kite fairly aggressively . Our only problems were having to sail around the traffic , but it all went quite well and we crossed the line just behind the X34 to take a good win on handicap. As the sails came down – and the heater put  on to dry and mend the spinnaker , we realised from the radio traffic that others had not been so lucky ( 2 in the water – a broken arm and a head injury taken off by chopper ) and the second race was canned . Good decision Jamie even if it does mean yet another early start!


This was a cracking days sail –  after 2 races in rowdy conditions we all knew we had  been on the water – we had the aching nuscles and bruises to prove it.

Race 1 had a fairly even start line and we popped out nicely arriving up by the windward mark in second place  with Light   and Hot Rats on our tail and the X 34 ahead. The wind built through the race  and we pretty much held our own until the wild final beat when we tried to duck a class 1 boat but had to bail out because of a stuck runner , got pushed out to the left and with brains temporarily in neutral , missed the ever so predictable  big  right hand shift  that came in with the frontal rain.  Light went right along with some other non Sigma’s and we just managed to squeek ahead of them –but lost 2nd place to Joostup on handicap.

Between races the rain cleared and the sun came out  and we started with a  strong weather going tide and very port biased line . There were all sorts of shenanigans going on down by the pin – whilst 5 boat lengths nearer the committee boat  we managed to avoid the scrum and tack onto port under them and get away . Not so well as the X34  who seemed to have caused the rumpus -  he was onto port and gone!.

Behind him we had  a tremendous scrap with With Alacrity who wasn’t going to be bullied by us and held on to the inside berth at the first leeward mark – only to be severely prejudiced by Joostup who barged in without water, forcing Alacrity wide and allowing us to nip inside .  The second windward mark saw 6   boats round within as many seconds  but most seemed to have spinnaker issues in the now freshening breeze . Despite a VERY late call to change back to the No 2 ( tremendous crew work!)  , we squeezed round ahead and stayed that way to take 2nd on the water – but with the X 34  deservedly OCS  it looks like we were 1st. That was fine teamwork boys and girls!



HWS 7 

This was a great day on the water ; two short races  in a gusty 15 to 22 knot NW’er  that left us physically knackered but grinning from ear to ear.

In each race the X 34 raced off leaving the next 10 places thrillingly close . Our first beat went well and we rounded just in front of Joostup and Light before setting off on the long run against the tide.  First mistake of the day was down to me as I strayed well beyond the port gybe layline in order to gybe on top of Joostup , forgetting that with an asymmetric she sails HOT angles and was able to skoot out of our windshadow . The result was  that we lost both her and Light,  who had sailed the deep angles appropriate to  Sigmas in these fresh conditions. What’s more we were coming in to the mark on a broad reach needing to hoist the genoa , drop the pole , then the kite , gybe and round. If only ! It’s a long time since we have rounded with the spi and the genoa half up and it was shocking how much we lost to Light in the ensuing 5 minutes.
Somehow we made amends on the next run , getting inside Light at the leeward mark and powering up the beat to take 4th place , with less than 2 minutes separating 2nd from 6th and only 5 mts down to 14th place!

The second race was more of the same . We calculated the leeward end of the line was favoured but were surprised to have to duck Light , or was it  With Alacrity ( or perhaps  Persephone – these two seemed to tied together by an umbilical cord for the whole day!) who all started further down the line . We later found out that the committee vessel was dragging to windward throughout the sequence which was why they kept having to relay the pin – and why none of our pre race calculations made sense! Light beat us to the windward mark , Joostup  tacked in our water citing rule 18 ( hmm – think we will ask the jury about that one) and With Alacrity and Persephone rounded close astern-  and took up station on our starboard quarter thus controlling us for the leeward approach. It’s a blur for me from there until the next run when we were all at it again , except I remember With Alacrity and Persephone dogfighting and gybing off to the left – handing the inside berth to us .

2/3rds of the way down the last run it was looking good for us as we had the inside berth of the 6 boats vying for 2nd position.  But we reckoned without Joostup who were sailing higher than the rest , hooked in to an overlap on our port side and sailed us off way past the port layline . We were ready for them and had the genoa over on the starboard side as quick as a flash. On she drove us and  Ben began muttering that “this is going to be pressured!”  How right he was.

Eventually we broke the overlap , gybed and went for the genny. By now the angle in to the mark was so hot  the  pole was on the forestay and we blew the halyard to get the kite down in time. So far so good . Joostup had failed to get the overlap ,  we had lost Persephone and With Alacrity but should get inside Light and the crew were working like demons not to repeat our horlicks from the first race . Then the pole uphaul got stuck and the spi halyard wrapped itself round the cooker and for the second time things began to go horribly wrong. Light sped away and Joostup climbed on to our hip whilst the crew battled to clear the decks for a tack.

We could only take a short clearing tack as the tide would make the left side pay . Back we came and Light tacked into a lee bow , possibly hitting a wave ,  as we were able to luff out of her dirty air. Back she came at us and shortly before the layline forced us to tack away . A superb tack from the crew got us clear of her and we stretched away for the line where With Alacrity crossed 35 seconds ahead to take 2nd place , and the next 9 boats crossed within 2 minutes . That’s what I call racing.

Incidentally don’t be surprised to see us practising our leeward mark roundings before next weekends race!



Other Race Reports :