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…….