A game of Snakes and Ladders…or was it Swiss cheese?
The hugely successful North U Training Day on Friday 21st April was well attended by many lucky SORC sailors, keen to hone their starting, racing and sail handling skills prior to the first race of the season. The North U team get better every year [or is it us that pays more attention?] providing a slick, cohesive and immensely informative day on the water. The new drone footage provided text-book like plan view shots of the action for the lively de-brief.
So, armed with refreshed and new knowledge, the SORC Fleet of 25 yachts anticipated a great weekend of racing in sparkling spring conditions, although many heads were not so sparkling on Saturday morning following personal attempts at re-hydration with red wine in the Amabi tapas bar the previous evening.
Race officer David Giddings used his crystal ball to maximum effect, laying a simple yet taxing course that played to the weather of the day. He got the tides just right too, enabling an extended visit down the Western Solent to the Needles Channel, a quick right hand circuit of the Shingles Bank and back into the Solent, all with the tide behind the fleet whilst becoming slack as we banged back through Hurst.
A light NW wind and bright sunshine greeted the 11 boats of class 2 and 3, who showed the way off the JOG start line, everyone wisely holding well to the East to avoid being OCS. Class 1 comprising 14 boats followed, again being less aggressive at the start than on the training day! Leg 1 across to Beaulieu was a tricky beat on starboard, most having to throw a short tack to the East prior to rounding Sevenstar. A true run to Newtown followed, the tide dictating a lesson to those who neglected to lay-off enough for the drift; more than 1 yacht had to tack back to the mark! By the time everyone had rounded Newtown East the split between the front and rear runners was huge…….or was it? The beginnings of snakes and ladders had begun.
Following the white sail fetch to Hamstead Ledge, it was “who dares wins” with early hoisters of code zero`s making significant gains on the hesitators. The tide swept everyone down through Hurst and it was from here that fortunes were won or lost. Initially the matched COG/ brg to mark payed off, but then the steadily maturing Swiss Cheese of a wind produced a random matrix of holes, which a ladder got you out of…..but a snake slithered you back in. David Cowell in “Jester” had a vipers nest having found his own crater along the island shore and stopped dead, whilst the front runners nearer the Needles and SW Shingles were seen bearing away to maintain momentum until they too stopped. Those around with their heads out of the boat had the luxury of noticing this, many banging to the NW and heading down the edge of the bank straight to the mark without even a tack. Somehow Bellino, Game On and Anticipation rounded, with Jangada and Roxanne nipping their ankles in a worrying fashion. Unfortunately for Roxanne, it was the SW Shingles buoy that was doing the ankle biting, as Simon had to start his engine to avoid a collision with the steel buoy, thereby putting himself out of the race.
With the race having effectively re-started as everyone had closed up, the differing wind around the course was evident, the front boats flying zero`s towards Milford Beach, whilst further back others struggled to windward. Some sailed towards the bank to minimise tide, reporting sounder readings that went from 6m to 1m in a boat length. Sharp tacks saved the day! As the wind direction stabilised, 2 or 3 tacks saw the stretched fleet rounding North Head Buoy, port reaching to Hurst, then variously beating/reaching to Black Rock at Yarmouth for the finish.
In beautiful, calm sunny weather everyone congregated in Yarmouth and rafted up.
Several strange events occurred on the pontoons;
Rob Craigie developed an obsession with other yachts masthead wind vanes, being winched up Fastrak`s then his own. The difference soon became clear; they are the same, but unlike Rob`s wind instruments, Nigel`s work. Plaintiff cries of “lower me down gently, I`m slipping out” were heard as Rob was seen with the harness under his armpits. A quick whip-round failed to produce enough money to keep him up there all night, so he was duly lowered to the deck.
“Oi Oi” arrived with a second crew member onboard; the helmsman seemed disinterested in the comments about 2 crew not being allowed in a solo race. He merely wagged his tail and hopped ashore, lifted his leg against a convenient pile and had a well deserved pee. Meanwhile Paul the second crew member, tried to explain that he was only there to feed Bob the odd Bonio, whilst Bob was there to bite Paul if he touched anything. No wonder the smallest boat in our SORC fleet goes so fast.
Talking fast, Noel Cockle [Monocle] was seen secretly offloading the Beaver Patrol of the Ist Yarmouth Sea Scouts who had been camping in his deck-mounted frame tent. The race committee elected not to disqualify him, reasoning that the extra positive windage of the frame tent downwind was more than compensating by the enormous drag whilst attempting to sail the windward legs. Tony commented that had it been an aircraft, it would have stalled and fallen out of the sky.
Meanwhile, Simon was seen wandering around the chandlers, trying to source a remote engine start button, with a lanyard to wear around his neck……just for future use.
A prize giving for the worthy winners was held alongside Fastrak XXXX [or is it XXX?], with results as follows:
Inshore Series Race 1 Results
Inshore Series Race 2 - Abandoned due to lack of wind.
Event Photo Gallery
North U Training Gallery