The final weekend of the offshore series was planned to be a quick sprint across the channel to Cherbourg and back, but the new entry procedures to France due to Brexit and those back to the UK due to Covid made that an unattractive option, so we went west again, this time to Portland. Plan B, to go the long way round the Isle of Wight over Friday night, also fell by the wayside with the forecast of a prolonged calm patch during the night followed by a good sailing breeze for both Saturday and Sunday. Plan C it was, a race straight to Portland on Saturday, and back to North Head on Sunday avoiding a tidal gate at the finish. As is often the case, agility in adapting plans to circumstances is key!
Saturday saw me up early to get to the start in Gurnard Bay, with Donald on Rainmaker providing the competitor start boat. With a SE breeze, on Pyxis I started with a Code 0, which served well until the forecast progressive wind veer to the S (accompanied by drizzle) and then SW (sun back up again) necessitated a change to white sails and a couple of tacks in Weymouth Bay to get high enough for a mid-fleet finish. Well done to Simon on Roxanne for streaking away, leading from start to finish, a worthy winner, and to Chris on L’Aventure, match racing Pyxis all the way to win Class 2. The RSYC fleet started its re-scheduled Weymouth Double at the same time from Stanswood Bay so, as the fleets converged, we had more boats to pace ourselves with until diverging again in Weymouth Bay, to the puzzlement of some of the RSYC boats who were racing us until they realized we had different finish lines.
Sunday being the last race of the series and one discard to take effect, over dinner in the Boat that Rocks we discussed what each had to do to win the series. For Pyxis to win (on a tie break), I had to win the race on Sunday with L’Aventure coming no higher than 5th. No pressure then!
My unsuccessful attempt to force Roxanne to windward over the start line on Sunday at least distracted Simon from unwrapping his headsail, delaying his hoist. With a westerly, do we go out and then gybe in, or in and then gybe out? Most went for the first option; Rainmaker took a middle route; whilst L’Aventure opted to go in. Which would prove best? At St Albans, Jerry on his new steed was out in front (didn’t he read the name on the boat ‘Hot Pursuit’?), with Roxanne and Pyxis close astern. Rounding Anvil Point, the wind veered to the NW. Hot Pursuit continued across the bay, switching to white sails to reach into the finish at North Head, first on the water and the Class 1 win. Roxanne took off with an asymmetric, whilst on Pyxis I tried to persuade my symmetric to follow Roxanne in the direction of the mark. Nonetheless, both took the prudent course of dropping early rather than attempting an ‘exciting’ drop after the finish, approaching Hurst Spit, a lee shore.
And, in the end, when the computer had done the sums, Pyxis won the race and the series!
Race 7 results
Race 8 results
Offshore Series final results