At another major breakfast the talk is that conditions will be lighter than yesterday. That’s not what I’ve seen in the forecast, so the reef stays in. The wind is well round into the West, but it’s already blowing F5 as we head out. Brian has decided to join us again. It turns out that only ‘Sepia’ even makes the start for the smaller gaffers. With the wind in the West at least we can sail to the start area, which is both quicker and more enjoyable than yesterday’s motoring.
Jolie Brise’s towering topsail is lurking near Wootton, as we reach the start area. We miss the timing on the start sequence, so we’re at the back of the fleet at the gun. We’re also to windward and powered up! We scrape to windward of ‘Sophie’, who’s struggling to stay above ‘Duet’, roll the pair of them and keep going. We’re not laying the mark, so tack across early to make sure we stay ahead. The tack back is well timed and we’re second to the mark, behind ‘Jolie Brise’. We bear away and follow them downwind, straight into a Sunsail fleet using the same mark. We find a slot, get a decent rounding and harden up on to the wind, along the coast. It’s satisfying to find the 40ft Sunsails can’t sail away from us, although our wind would be clearer if they could. By now the wind has built to a steady F6, but with the wind and tide together, the Solent stays flat. We learn later that even the redoubtable ’Sepia’ has now been blown off the course. ‘Ivy Green’ is revelling in the conditions and is perfectly balanced. We start to wonder whether we’re gaining on ‘Jolie Brise’. Maybe the same thought occurs to them, as her topsail disappears, she stands up and sails away from us like the greyhound she is. A good demonstration of how less can be more.
There’s a little confusion about the position of the next mark, a red inflatable, but we tack mid-Solent and discover it a mile straight ahead of us. Then it’s round on to a broad reach and we’re over 8kts over the ground. There’s not much tide, so that must be pretty much hull speed. Certainly the cockpit’s several inches deep, as the self-drainers suck the Solent in until the inflatable danbuoy triggers! It’s soon stuffed below decks. After yesterday’s disappointment, we’re keeping the power on all the way to the finish, although we think ‘Cormorant’ has already dropped out. Our racing crew is developing into a well tuned machine. There’s no excitement at the gybe and we’re pushing through the regatta class as we round the last mark. There’s the satisfying sound of all 3 sails grinding smoothly in as we come up on to the reach and head for the finish. The clock says that we’ll be ahead of ‘Jolie Brise’ on corrected time and there’s nobody close enough behind us.
It’s downwind back to Hamble, time for a little cleaning up, then prize giving. With a second and a first we’ve won our class and collect a decanter for our efforts!
Thank you to Tim, Lyn and Brian for a fine racing team. Thanks also to Jonty Sherwill and the Royal Southern for putting on a great regatta. We’re looking forward to next year.
As crew and boats head off the yacht haven rapidly reverts to it’s normal fibreglass and aluminium look. By evening the only wooden masts on show are ‘Duet’, ‘Sophie’ and ‘Ivy Green’. We’re staying overnight, still hoping to get some gentler sailing during the week, so head for the Bugle for supper.
A few lessons:
- Ivy Green is at her best with plenty of wind. F6 with 1 reef was fast and balanced in flat water. Would she point higher with a small topsail for those conditions?
- Sailing the boat fast and making fewer mistakes gets you a long way.
- We need to get the wind shifts right in less steady conditions.
More photos at: Royal Southern Yacht Club photo gallery