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 .