SORC Nab Tower 2023 Race review by Nigel Davis
The SORC Nab Tower on 14th October 2023 was the final race in the SORC inshore series and the final SORC race of the season. It was also my first attempt at singlehanded racing in DelayMore (a Sunfast 3200) (or anything bigger than a laser, for that matter).
Knowing that I had to allow plenty of time for preparation, my plan was to head over to Cowes on Friday 13th. However, appropriately nightmare-ish weather (30 knot winds and pouring rain) scuppered that plan and I found myself at first light on Saturday on the Hamble fighting a genoa onto its furler under clear breezy skies. I knew everything would be more than twice as hard sailing singlehanded versus doublehanded but I hadn’t really banked on it being ten times as hard …
Anyway, I made over to the start line of Egypt Point in good time and found perfect autumn sailing conditions: 15-20 knots from the west, clear skies and not too cold for Mid-October. Things were going so well at this point, I even had time to make myself a flask of tea, which was to save me later in the race.
The doublehanders, Class 2 and Class 3 made clear starts before us and our Class 1 start was also clear - all of the fleet opting for a conservative approach because of the tide taking us down towards the line. Nigel Colley in Fastrak XII got the best start (only delayed slightly by a twist in his asymmetric). The fleet then gybed downwind in a glorious 15-18 knots. I was a little nervous before my first singlehanded gybe but it went ok and I started to relax and enjoy the sailing. I did seem to be going a little slower than I would have liked but I put this down to being at a disadvantage to symmetric boats given Nab lay pretty much dead downwind (nothing to do with poor helming, sail trim etc …). I was grateful to Jerry on Hot Pursuit (another SF3200) for deciding to wrap his S2 around his forestay and wait for me three quarters of the way down the leg.
The only casualty on the downwind leg was Wee Bear which retired with autopilot problems. Once we rounded Nab it was then a beat back up the Solent. I enjoyed some close tacking with Hot Pursuit for 30 minutes or so until he slowly pulled away (handing the over-powered conditions better than me). A couple of 25 knot squalls came down the Solent through the fleet as we beat up but everyone seemed to handle the conditions well. I must say I was unusually exhausted when I passed the finish line – singlehanded sailing is not easy.
Fastrak XII led Class 1 from start to finish but Azora’s second was enough to secure the Inshore Series season win. Pyxis won Class 2 and pipped the absent Dark Horse by 1 point for the Inshore Series. Insert Coin won the closely contested doublehanded class.
It was nice to be welcomed so enthusiastically at the after-race-raft-up at Shepherds and the convivial atmosphere continued on to the post-race dinner at the Island Sailing Club. I am looking forward to more SORC outings in 2024.