Sunsail Season Shakedown 22/23 Feb 2014

Bill Taylor (skipper), Phil Armitage (mate), Carol, Jacqui, Sue, Tracey, Roy.

We had a good first outing of the season. The weather forecast had always suggested that Saturday would be better than Sunday and so it turned out. The wind on Saturday was around F5 with almost wall to wall sunshine but Sunday was much worse, F6-7 and cloudy.

What we didnít realise until the Skippersí briefing was that last yearís Sunsail Series Final was being run on Sunday, due I assume to bad weather late last year, and that the Finalists were using the four Chiller races on Saturday as practice. We were therefore up against all of last yearís Sunsail Series winners!!

We managed to miss the first race due to a grounding just outside the Port Solent Marina. I was on the helm and not paying enough attention to the colours of the posts at low tide!! My only excuse was that the sun was in my eyes. Embarrassing enough but I was followed onto the bank by another two competitors!!!

We managed to miss the first race due to a grounding just outside the Port Solent Marina. I was on the helm and not paying enough attention to the colours of the posts at low tide!! My only excuse was that the sun was in my eyes. Embarrassing enough but I was followed onto the bank by another two competitors!!!

The crew were very keen and all had previous experience on yachts. Two were ex Fastnetters. For the first time that I can recall, there were more females in the crew than males (It would have been half and half had we been up to strength). Our performance improved with each race as we settled into our respective roles. The crew enjoyed the day and seemed pleased to have taken part.

Given Sundayís forecast we decided to have a lie-in and the Skipper did a sort of cooked breakfast with crispy bacon in a cheese topped roll.

Sunday dawned as expected. The stronger forecast F6-7 wind arrived and with the threat of patchy light rain we decided to go straight home. One crew member suggested that we use just the head sail, which we did with 2 reefs in it. The sail back to Portsmouth Entrance was uneventful. The sea was quite rough even with the relatively short fetch off the Isle of Wight.

There were no pontoons outside the marina. They had either been destroyed in the severe winter weather or had been removed. In any case there was nothing to secure to if waiting for the marina lock. Fortunately we arrived at a quiet time and went straight into the lock.

It was a good first outing as skipper. The weather was just right for the racing and the crew were keen and seem to have enjoyed it and Iím grateful for their enthusiasm and hard work. Iím also grateful to Phil for his suggestions born of experience.

My thanks go to the crew, Carol, Jacquie, Sue, Tracey, Roy and Phil for their enthusiasm and hard work and I hope to sail with them all again soon.

Results: 15th, 13th, 11th, 10th. 13th Overall.