Round the Island 2018 – hot start, slow finish

Greg, Guillaume and Pierre joined us for this year’s Round the Island.  Greg’s routing model showed that it didn’t really matter where you started.  Arriving at West Bramble, it looked like the Hampshire shore would be favoured but watching the IRC 1 start twenty minutes before we were due to head off, it became clear to us but not the rest of the fleet that the wind had started to switch to the south, so we opened up the throttle to get over towards the Island – and the sequence below, from the race video, shows how it paid off:

Start 01 Start 03 Start 04 Start 05 Start 06 Start 07 Start 08 Start 09 Start 10

We remained in good shape at Hurst, in company with boats rating above us, and carving a swathe through the large competitors in the cruiser class that started 10 minutes before us: 139004


46K0TVHM14Boat Photos at the NeedlesAt the Needles, we came close in and gained the tidal advantage, and made a good job of crossing Freshwater Bay and rounding St Catherines, avoiding some horrible holes in the wind, and almost certainly leading our division on handicap by a big margin.  There was another big hole the Bembridge – where we kept our cool – and got away before almost all the boats who had come in behind us.  And then there was another very testing hole at the Forts where the wind stopped again.Boat Photos at the Forts Boat Photos at the Forts 2


We were probably still leading the division as the wind finally filled in off Ryde Sands – we were certainly still ahead of the eventual division winner at the stage, but it all ended up very close at the finish, but somewhere on the final beat we lost a few critical minutes, dropping back to seventh.


Having fun raising money for Arthritis Research UK


Back in November, John Stageman made the winning bid for a day’s sailing on Mostly Harmless in an auction at the Arthritis Research UK Lantern Opera. John, three family members and one of the directors of the charity joined Tom and Natalie for day on the Solent, exploring the Medina and Beaulieu, and feasting on boat food, including strawberries and cream from offshore racing dog bowls.



West Princessa – from 1st to 7th in the last mile

With Natalie’s shoulder not yet repaired, Robert Stevenson joined Tom for the Royal Southampton YC West Princessa Race.  The A5 didn’t go up exactly cleanly first time, but once it was up Mostly Harmless quickly recovered ground on a shy spinnaker reach to the Ryde Sands eastern post, before losing a bit by being slightly more cautious than some of the fleet rounding Bembridge Ledge and consequently requiring a tack to make West Princessa Buoy.  However, MH found turbo on the white sail reach back to the Ryde Sands and pulled out a comfortable lead over all the boats rating lower on the fetch to the finish.  But, rather than protect our position, we freed off too soon for the finish at the Brambles and were caught out a by a heading shift in a breeze building to over 25 knots that allowed boats that had been well behind to make the line while we had to put in a tack.  But for the mistake late in the race, a great day’s sailing with good trimming from Robert supporting hot boat speed.

Would we have made this mistake with Natalie on board?  Probably not!

Big Foot, who’d been thirty boat lengths behind off Norris, passes ahead approaching the finish line at the BramblesDSC01240

Mostly Harmless finally crosses the line, 3 minutes on corrected time behind the overall winnerDSC01245



Round the Island 2017

With Natalie out of action while she recovers from a shoulder operation, Tom was joined by Tori Davies, the Vialls family (David, Chris and Emily), and Iulia Kramarenko, who appeared at HYS on Friday evening ready to join the crew after losing her berth on another RTI entry.

With a crew that was largely new to the boat we took it fairly gently, flying the A5 rather than the A2, but there were some high points nonetheless: a bold start and quick leg down the Solent; cutting the corner inside the Varvassi wreck, and some good recovery of places on the beat from Bembridge to the Ryde Sands north post and shifting into river sailing mode around Norris.

The professionals took some nice photos: Patrick Eden caught us at St Catherines and Paul Wyeth on the beat back up the Solent:

Patrick Eden photo rounding St Cats

Paul Wyeth photo 130079

Iulia, David and Tori also took some shots of the race and crew on the way round and on the way back to the Hamble:


0550 – skipper checks the course in the GPS before the start



0650 – close fetch down the Solent to Hurst narrows


0730 – getting set to go inside the Varvassi wreck at the Needles and hoist A2


0740 – Tori gets set to hoist A5 after the Needles


0800 – David and Emily as we cross Freshwater Bay


0805 – Tom back on the helm


0810 – Tori trims, while Chris grinds


0840 – Tori takes a break at the back of the boat with Emily











0840 – what a lot of boats

0850 – Crossing Freshwater Bay, David trimming, Tom steering, Iulia taking it easy

0940 – Approaching St Catherine’s, Tori back trimming


1000 – Skipper looks around as it’s getting quite exciting with close quarters stuff and one or two broaches just after St Catherine’s – we’d just dropped the A5







1030 – Then a fetch from Dunnose Point, just after Ventnor, to Bembridge Ledge Buoy

1040 – Looking back

1040 – and to leeward

1040 – David and Iulia


1050 – Tori trimming with change sheet on reach to Bembridge

1110 – Round Bembridge Ledge and now beating towards No Man’s Land Fort

1150 – Approaching Ryde Sands – skipper wonders how close he cut the corner


1320 – Wind dropping off as we beat down the Solent, Tori fine trimming


1400 – Beating up to the finish – just like river sailing


1445 – Emily helming back across the Solent after the finish



1500 Chris and Emily

Returning last season’s trophies……

Tom’s rib was still not repaired so we decided to give the last of the JOG inshore series a miss, but had to head down the M3 anyway to return last season’s Double Handed Series and JOG Trophies.  The house will look a bit empty until the prize giving season……


IRC Nationals 2016 – that was tough!


The contrast between last year’s IRC Nationals and this year’s could not have been greater: two races squeezed in at the end of the second day in 2015 when a gentle breeze finally filled in; force 6 on both days in 2016 meaning that racing was over by 1500 on day 1 and by 1300 on day 2.

The force 6 resulted in damage to boat and crew.  The leach of our jib was shredded by the end of the second race.   Admittedly, it has done two full seasons including a Fastnet campaign and we already have a replacement on order, but it’s a heavy duty sail.  Consequently we headed back to HYS on the Friday evening to collect one of the old jibs in the shed rather than head for Cowes with the rest of the fleet.  Tom was the casualty on day 2, sustaining a broken rib while dropping the spinnaker at Warner (out to the east of the Spithead Forts) in 28 knots of breeze.

Our results were disappointing, partly reflecting being unprepared for the first start and then having to return after the second start for (possibly) being OCS, and partly reflecting a degree of caution (as well as a lack of ambition after the frustration of the starts), flying the kite on only one downwind leg on day 1.  On the other, no such caution was exhibited on day 2: Natalie pulled off a copybook windward end start in the long distance race and we had no hesitation flying the spinnaker for a thrilling  downwind leg that would have been unforgettable even without Tom’s injury at the drop .

IRC Championship – “No Pressure then”

We had been looking forward to the IRC Double Handed Championship on 16th and 17th September.  But having just followed an email link to the event website and seen the latest posting by the organisers, I’m not sure whether we can live up to expectations:

Of those boats entered so far there are four that immediately catch the eye as far as their Double Handed performances in 2016 are concerned.

1.    The current holders of the Overall IRC Double Handed trophy, the Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie with Neil Martin and Philip Barnes, have been on the podium in three of their four JOG races in 2016, winning the Nab Tower and the Weymouth races.  There is no doubt that Hot Cookie is on form to repeat their 2015 win.  Hot Cookie is likely to be in Class 1.

2.   Mike Moxley and Huw Phillips racing Malice (HOD 35) have also had a good year so far, leading the Royal Southampton Inshore Series with three bullets.  This very impressive run already gives them the Series with one more race to go.  Mike and Huw are likely to be in Class 2 at this year’s Nationals.

3.   Aiming to give Malice a run for their money is Mostly Harmless.  Natalie Jobling and Tom Hayhow currently lead the Royal Southampton Main Series with podium finishes in 3 Inshore races and two Offshore.  The J105 looks very competitive this year.


St Peter Port Double 2016

Other than a gentle beat down the Solent at dusk on Friday evening and a few last minute tacks as the wind dropped to only that created by the tide that carried us over the finish line in the Little Russell, this weekend was downwind all the way.  We hoisted the A2 in the Needles Channel, changed down to A5 south of Anvil Point as the wind approached 20 knots just after midnight and changed back six hours later approaching Casquets as it fell back into the teens.  Our principal rivals, Rob and Kate in J105 Big Foot, have a heavyweight fractional A2 that they carried through the night which, probably along with sailing hotter angles, helped them come in several minutes ahead.  But our second place was enough to secure overall victory in the Royal Southampton double handed offshore series and, if we have done the sums right, provide an unassailable lead in the main series too.

The wind obligingly turned round for the return trip, for a delivery back to the Hamble in a F6 and following sea with heavy weather jib and two reefs in the main.

To cap it all, we managed to brew proper coffee for breakfast both days with friends playing in our bow wave:  dolphins, downwind at dawn, with decent coffee – it doesn’t get much better!

Cowes Week 2016

The weather was glorious, sun every day, never too much wind and although Tuesday was testing, never so little wind that we lost a day’s racing.  We could have done better – 17th from 30 in IRC Class 4, but it was a fun week.

Never too much wind, but it did get spicy on the Sunday as the photos below, taken by Beken, show.  The wind on the last leg, from Hamstead Ledge back to the finish line at the Royal Yacht Squadron, was generally above 25 knots, frequently 28 knots and touched 30 knots – quite a bit more than the A2 spinnaker is designed for, and enough to break the mast of one of the boats in our class.

The sequence below shows Mostly Harmless:

1. approaching Egypt Point from the west………..



2. close up,  with Sophie Singleton doing a great job trimming the kite and Martin Mctigue grinding……..



3.  continuing on her way towards the finish…….



4.  only then to have to take avoiding action for another boat losing control very thoroughly……..



5.  resulting in MH sustaining a tear in the A2 (fortunately only a little one, repaired overnight by One Sails) so Greg Brougham became a human whisker pole as we ran down the Green to finish under white sails



These were not the only photos from Cowes Week:  One Sails took a nice picture of the A2 they’d repaired overnight on Sunday ……..

Mostly Harmless Cowes 2016 - One Sails


PhotoFrog took a photo in the light race on Tuesday………

PhotoFrog 10th August 2016


And Martin took a number of shots of the crew…….

image1 image3 image4 image5 IMG_0405

Round the Island 2016 – 6th from 42 in Division 2B

This was seriously breezy, with a VHF soundtrack of Mayday calls following dismastings, MOBs and a sinking.  We had a mixed crew including a couple of less experienced sailors so in common with most of the other competitors we resisted the temptation to hoist a spinnaker on the south side of Island.  The leading J105s were bolder, accounting for Jelly Baby finishing 30 minutes ahead of us.  But, with three closely-spaced way points in the GPS , we were one of the few boats to risk the passage inside the Varvassi wreck at the Needles which helped us secure sixth from 42 starters in IRC Division 2B.

Tacking for the Varvassi – Needles channel:



and rounding St Catherines:

Beken 169702-1300153KJB

Beken proof 169702-1300153KJB