The JOG start off Cowes was a port biased
line with 3+ knots of tide sending the fleet East down the Solent. After finishing
dinner and having a quick practice beat we found ourselves running back against
the tide with 5 minutes to go looking distinctly as if we were going to be late.
We headed straight for the buoy end expecting to be rounding it maybe a minute
after the rest of the fleet had started. A small gust later we were on the line
with 30seconds to go but with no option than to keep running downwind to stem
the tide on starboard with a JOG fleet ominously gathering for their run into
the line on port Ė eek! Fortunately most of the fleet were line shy with the
big tide running across the line and left us room to tack with 20 seconds to
go. We were swept across the line at the pin end in amongst the first three
Once past Cowes we cracked off and
charged down the Solent with the GPS display touching
10 knots over he ground. So far so good, and with the weather forecasts
predicting NE 5-10 knots, sailing down the Solent in 12 knots of
wind gave us hope the wind would stay up for us to keep the spinnaker filling
across the channel. A mile from the forts the wind gave the first of its many unexpected
twists as it suddenly shifted to the East leaving us beating past the Forts and
on to Bembridge Ledge. Past Bembridge
the fleet started to split with most boats sailing high to the East while we
cracked off to make more speed Southwards as dusk set
in. This tactic paid off as the forecast NE wind manifested itself cunningly
disguised as a †South Westerly allowing us to
tack back to starboard maybe a mile to windward of the other Sigma 38s and the
bulk of the fleet. With a west going spring tide setting in the apparent wind
(heavily influenced by the tide) slowly shifted more to the west and built to 9
knots giving us a much quicker progress across the channel than the forecast
had given us cause to expect.
By the next morning
we were positioned 21 miles to the North of the finish and 18 miles to the
West. With the tide turning to the East we had 5 hours to sail the 21 miles
south whilst the tide should take care of the East bit and hopefully sweep us
around the Cherbourg peninsular. In
fact we actually only had to make 15 miles south to be around the corner of the
peninsular and in the slightly weaker tide and shallower water off †StVaast.
Well, we didnít make it !! As the tide set in
to the East we expected the SW wind would ease but it switched off completely.
By the tide had done itís job and taken us East but we had only made 8 miles
south averaging just a knot and a half. With the current slack we managed to
make another few miles south but agonisingly just 2-3 miles short of being in
shallower water to the East of the Cherbourg peninsular. At we were 10 miles from the finish but the tide had now
turned and was setting us back to the West. By we were being
swept towards Cherbourg at 5 knots and
with just 3 knots of wind and no sign of it increasing we took the hint and
motored the 20 miles to the fleshpots of Cherbourg.
Well done to Torbellino for being the only
Sigma 38 to hang on and finish with an elapsed time of 26 hours and twenty minutes !