For the third year running, Nomad Sailing former students and friends enjoyed a fabulous day crewing in the Round the Island race. It was an early start this year with Fortyniner due over the starting line at 0550 and Nomad 1 at 0620 (see previously published crew biographies for Nomad 1 and Fortyniner).
Nomad 1 crew readying for the start line
Fortyniner’s crew slipped her moorings in Hamble around 0500 perhaps cutting it a little fine. The weather was blowing fairly light from N/NW so the run down to the Needles was going to be different this year, as was the sparring to try and maintain some control over the start line. There was some confusion over the start line transit (the crew weren’t sure whether to blame the skipper or the helmsman) but Fortyniner crossed the start 45s after the gun. This delay could have been crucial, as you’ll read further in this blog.
Meanwhile, Lou nailed it with a near perfect start, passing the start line as the gun fired. It was so close that the crew were a little concerned that Nomad 1 might even have been subject to an individual recall. Crossing the line first meant they were out in front, and the crew were fired up for the first leg.
The run down to the Needles was fairly uneventful – unlike previous years this wasn’t a beat with boats on port tacks yielding to those on starboard. It was a stunning morning and Fortyniner reached the Needles after 1h 33m.
Nomad 1 also reached the Needles in 1h 33m (49 minutes faster than 2012). The crew could hardly believe how quickly they reached the mark, and raced to get the spinnaker prepped and ready. Many of the other boats had already got their spinnakers up, and it made for a tremendous view coming around the Needles.
Nomad 1’s fabulous spinnaker
Fortyniner’s crew had readied the spinnaker for hoisting after turning past the Needles lighthouse and expected, if anything, a wind shadow from the cliffs of Freshwater Bay. But in reality the wind picked up and they watched as other yachts struggled to maintain control of their cruising chutes and spinnakers. It was blowing a steady 17-18 knots now and gusting 22 knots – there was no way Fortyniner’s crew were risking the race against Nomad 1.
Paul & Peter trimming the main sheet
On the run down to St. Catherine’s Point Fortyniner edged ahead of its rival by 7 minutes. It was fairly gusty and Jim organised the crew so two were managing the rather unsatisfactory mainsheet. Rigged on the coach roof it didn’t encourage constant adjustment but one crew was on the winch trimming in whilst the other was on the sheet ready to ease out.
As Nomad 1 came around the Needles, the spinnaker was prepped and ready to go. Regular gusts delayed any next steps, and it was interesting to see the mess many of the other boats were getting themselves into. Approaching St. Catherine’s Point, the winds steadied a little, and Nomad 1 decided to give the spinnaker a go. The hoist was perfect, with the crew working together to fly the big, blue Nomad flag and hopefully increase the speed by a crucial knot or so. However, the excitement was short lived when the port guy came lose, and the spinnaker whipped about like a kite in the wind. All of that preparation for just a few seconds of excitement! The crew bagged the spinnaker away, costing valuable seconds.
It has to be seen to believed
The reach up the third leg to Bembridge Ledge was also on a single tack and, although uneventful, very enjoyable and Fortyniner maintained its lead of 7 minutes as they passed the cardinal.
Despite the spinnaker incident, Nomad 1 made good progress up to Bembridge Ledge, with some awesome helming from all the crew. Regular updates were being texted to Kirsty by her father, keeping Nomad 1 well informed of Fortyniner’s narrow lead.
Everything changed on the final leg, which we knew was going to be a beat against the tide. Fortyniner had a number of close encounters giving way as per the rules whenever prudent. One incident did get everyone’s back up however. When sailing close hauled on a starboard tack they noted another yacht, also on a starboard tack coming up on her starboard quarter. So, she was overtaking and she was the upwind vessel. However, Fortyniner was also being squeezed by another yacht (not overtaking) on her port side so Fortyniner needed to yield. It got very tense when her crew started yelling “Up! Up!”, which Paul simply relayed to the vessel on his starboard beam. Her helm was having none of it, calmly replying, “I’m maintaining my course” several times in succession. Fortyniner had to luff up a little to avoid her and so did her new friend to port side to avoid contact. Neither crew was impressed with arrogance of the passing yacht.
Although not experts at the Racing Rules, as far as Rule of the Road goes, it was a clear infringement and warranted a protest.
Nomad 1 didn’t have the best of final legs. Coming around Bembridge Ledge they were in prime position and in with a chance of victory. However, far too many tacks cost them the race, and a couple of very close encounters nearly cost them the boat! It had been pretty straightforward racing up to this point, but now they had to contend with giving way to other boats. There were two or three near T-bone incidents – and Nomad 1 wasn’t always the innocent party! The most hair raising was probably when Nigel was at the helm and the main sheet locked on Andy – they must have skimmed past that boat by inches!
It was probably the final stretch through Osborne Bay that really stood out for Nomad 1. Far too many small, short tacks – weaving in and out of the anchored boats, and costing valuable seconds.
Nomad 1 (Blue), Fortyniner (Red)
Fortyniner crossed the finish line with a time of 8 hours 58 minutes – just 18 seconds ahead of Nomad 1 when corrected for handicap. Both crews beat the records set by these yachts in previous races (check out last year’s race report)
|St Catherine’s Point
|Bembridge Ledge Buoy