Sunsail Race Series #6, 26th - 27th Sept 2010

Nick Bowles (skipper), Phil Armitage (mate, nav), Emily Shrosbree, Jacquie Wood, Trevor Baldock, Keith Ritchie, Anna Warren and Jonathan Law.

There was a big turnout for this weekend - 21 boats of which 5 were NHS boats sailing in a sort of regatta within a regatta. The forecast was for cold northerly winds around F5 which meant flat water, gusty winds (particularly as we approached the mainland shore at the end of the upwind legs), and plenty of warm clothing.

The start area was set at Bob Kemp, over towards Ryde. We got there with little time to spare and no time to practice tacking, never mind spinnakers.

The first race had Browndown as an upwind mark with plenty of opportunity to use Mother Bank and the shipping channels to use or cheat the tide as required. The tide was west-going for most of the racing, so we went upwind using the deep water and downwind over the banks wherever possible. The wind near the mainland shore was gusty and shifty, with big headers, so we tended to make westing in the main channel then tack onto port to approach the upwind mark, which meant threading our way through starboard boats, and lots of tacking exercise for the trimmers.

Despite the breeze and lack of practice we managed to launch and hold the kite on the longer downwind legs, sticking to white sails for the shorter legs and the reaches. This paid off as we gained places on boats lurching off downwind as they struggled to control rogue kites while we retained maximum manoeuvrability and control at the expense of a little speed.

Having managed a creditable 7th in the first race the second race followed a similar pattern, though somehow we only managed 13th.

After the racing we headed off for Cowes for the night. As usual the marinas were filling up quickly and we ended up on the outside at the Yacht Haven. Normally this isn't much of a problem but in a northerly I wouldn't recommend it and next time we'll make the effort to seek out something less exposed. We ate at Cowes Tandoori - pretty good, I thought.

Racing followed a similar pattern, starting at Bob Kemp, upwind to Browndown, with long runs down to North Sturbridge. We were 6th in the first race - really getting the hang of this.

In the second race the breeze seemed to pick up on the downwind leg to N. Sturbridge. The decision having been made to forego the kite the skipper decided to make the most of the extra manoeuvrability by going high and heading inshore to cheat the tide, then reaching out - going for maximum speed rather than the shortest route. I can tell you now that the tactic was a complete failure and we lost several places. As it happened it was all by the by, as the main halyard broke on the next upwind leg and we had to retire. Without this mishap and if we had stuck with a dead downwind course we should have managed at least 8th and could have discarded our 13th. This would only have bumped us up one place overall but it's a lesson learnt for next time.

Thanks to everbody on the crew for another enjoyable weekend.

Results: 7th, 13th, 6th, RTD. 8th Overall.

The wind for Sunday as recorded by the Bramble post weather station (Bramblemet).

The GPS track for Saturday (top) and Sunday.