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……
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 .
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.
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!
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 ……..
PhotoFrog took a photo in the light race on Tuesday………
And Martin took a number of shots of the crew…….
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 proof 169702-1300153KJB
The inshore series taking place within the Royal Southampton Double-handed main series has fallen into a clear pattern. The second and third races were repeats of the first one back in early April at least as far as we were concerned, with Huw Philips and Mike Moxley bring HOD 35 Malice home a few minutes ahead of Mostly Harmless on corrected time. With three firsts out of the four races in the inshore series, they are home and dry, and with three seconds, our second place overall is secure irrespective of what happens in the final race in this series in mid October.
Last year we won the outbound Weymouth double handed race, crossing the line off the Nothe Pier doing 16 knots and hoping that we could drop the spinnaker before piling up onto Weymouth Beach. We then dropped the A2 in the water on the race back and wrapped the sheets around the prop.
This year the prospects of winning the outbound leg evaporated when the wind went into the west off St Albans and we failed to extract the speed we needed to stay ahead of other, more windward friendly designs and finished a disappointing fourth. But the wind remained in the west on the return leg. If anything, the angles were uncomfortably deep for a boat with asymmetric spinnaker, but somehow we managed to remain close enough to the brand new J11S (a version of the J111 optimised for short handed sailing under IRC, with a conventional spinnaker to boot) sailed by Paul Heys as we crossed Christchurch Bay and headed down the Solent, to win by 4 minutes on corrected time.
Iain McLuckie was out taking pictures…….
…..on a chilly day in March (Tori Davies getting reading for the hoist and then smiling for the camera):
….. and on another chilly day on 10th April:
…..and a breezy enough day for a reef, code 4 jib and indecision about whether to hoist the A5 on 17th April: