RORC Cervantes Trophy 2007 - Race Report from With Alacrity
The medium size course of 117nm was selected by the race
committee to take us to
The first tactical decision was whether to start and sail out of the Solent to the North benefitting from the slightly stronger current and maybe more wind coming off the mainland shore, on With Alacrity we decided the extra distance wasn't worth it and took the shorter route trying to stay in the deepest water to the South of the Ryde bank. We were in the minority but this meant we had clear air all the way out and by the forts we popped out near the front of the fleet but a hundred metres or so behind Festina Lente & Persephone.
Festina spent the next hour or so working hard changing from genoa to spinnaker and back several times as the wind became more shifty but succeeded only in dropping off to leeward though this could have been the aim to get into more favourable current. Again we took the straight line route to Outer Owers buoy and got there the same distance behind Festina and within a few boatlengths of Persephone. At this point the wind switched off a few hours earlier than we were expecting from the forecast and we started to hunt for the ripples of wind on the water, making a short hitch inshore to end up line abreast with Festina inshore and Persephone further out.
After another hour of drifting and as the tide started to turn against us the wind started to fill in as forecast from the West and we all popped our spinnakers. Persephone were left with a better angle to lead the Sigma 38s around Rustington buoy and Festina made good progress inshore but both had pulled out nearly 2 miles on us over this 2 hour period - still no idea if we were just left in a wind-hole in the middle or were just sailing slower but there was still everything to play for with Premier Cru and No Fear close behind as we dropped the kites for the long leg across the channel.
After rounding Rustington we sailed hard on the wind with the majority of the fleet for 20 minutes but after some frantic tidal calculations at the nav station decided the majority were sailing too high and cracked off 15 degrees and gained a knot in boatspeed to a course that pretty well took us straight to the next mark. Overnight we lost track of any other Sigma 38s and as the wind died and freed off we worked hard to keep the boat moving sometimes managing to hold the spinnaker but most of the time sticking to the genoa on a tight reach. As dawn broke we rounded A5 buoy 15 miles off Le Harve in the company of several Class 2 & 3 yachts but with no sign of another Sigma 38 we had no idea if the deeper course had paid off or not.
A glorious spinnaker reach to the finish saw little more place changing and we motored into
The results showed that Festina managed to sneak past Persephone to lead them home by just over a minute, we ended up a further 20 minutes back which is probably about the gap at Rustington buoy 16 hours earlier. Vittesse must have had a good overnight leg as they finished 15 minutes later and I don't remember seeing them at Rustington but must have overtaken at least Premier Cru and No Fear on the way across.
After a 7 hour break and excellent lunch in Le Harve we headed home in an informal race with Persephone. Thirteen hours later, after hitting the forecast 30 knots of wind we both rounded Bembridge buoy within 2 boatlengths of each other which is another stunning testament to how closely matched these one design boats are. We got back to Hamble at 7am on Monday tired, bruised but happy after a great weekends sailing.