David Giddings, our intrepid Race Officer, reports..
With a forecast of increasing strong and gusty winds for the final SORC race of the season, the race committee prudently replaced the usual Nab Tower turning mark with the less exposed Bembridge Ledge buoy. The wind had already built to 20 knots at the start and as the fleet converged on the turning mark from the relative shelter of the eastern Solent, a vicious squall timed its arrival perfectly. ‘Wet’ and ‘Lively’ were some of the less colourful descriptions of the race from then on.
Some of the Inshore Series overall standings were already fixed before the final race, but such was the closeness of competition that some boats had to be separated using the tie break rules. In the case of Roxanne (Simon Mitchell) and Azora (Steve Thomas) the tie break had to go to a second level (RRS A8.2) and Roxanne’s first place in the final race clinched the series.
Simon Mitchell won the race, and the Inshore Series on a count back tie break. He descibes his race...
In the 2-3 days run up to the race wind forecasts gave 18 - 34kts (gusts) for the race period. High resolution forecasts give so much detailed information that it can be quite easy to talk yourself out of going sailing.
Six boats went to Cowes on Friday evening to be near the start area.
This was the last race of the season and series places were at stake. After checking the Saturday morning forecasts I reckoned that the ammended course to keep us more in the lee of the Island would make the most exposed part of the course short-lived enough to set a #3 jib and single-reefed main
Nine boats made the Gurnard start which was getting quite breezy but it dropped at Norris suggesting a spinnaker should be set. I played the safe option knowing the gusts were due... and watching my Class 2 competitors downwind closely to check if any kites went up.
Only the double-handed Contessa 32 Jemima of Farley set a kite.
Past Ryde the wind built and tightened up to Bembridge Ledge buoy where we caught up with the Class 2 boats in lumpy and gusty conditions. I slipped round the turning mark, grateful it was a tack rather than a gybe, and freed off onto a fast 100- 120° TWA.
Meanwhile the skies had darkened, rain became heavy, visibility dropped, wind increased to the mid-twenties with squally gusts nudging towards 30kts. Roxanne was in her element - flying at double digit boat speeds back towards No Mans Land Fort.
We passed the only remaining Class 2 boat still in front - the Maxi 1050 - Magewind of Roke , then from Ryde it was an ever-tightening reach to the finish at Snowden. Gusty conditions made this a work-out with lots of trimming and de-powering required to level the heel angle and keep up the pace. A short tack to the finish and it was all over - for this year at least.
And finally, Paul Reymond reports form his Dufour 36 goving a Class 2 perspective ...
Nab Tower has previously been a race of mixed fortunes for the author, 2nd I think in class 2 2019, retirement the year before due to losing my forestay off Bembridge .
A forecast of SW boisterous conditions had been on the cards all week, and as the race approached the fleet was consulted re postponement to Sunday. A resounding lack of interest was the response.
So it was race Saturday or cancel. Upon receipt of the most recent grib files Friday evening, it was decided that a slightly less exposed course would be the best option. The course was shortened to turn around Bembridge Ledge and take the safer non gybe rounding to Starboard, passing mark Horse Sand Fort and finish Snowden as per Sis.
The start timing for Class 2 had been altered to combine start for Class 4 Double handed, so 0955 warning signal .Class 1 warning signal ……..
Conditions on the JOG line were as predicted if not slightly breezier than forecast ,was this the breeze whipping around the headland or something more ominious, timie will as ever tell.
Down to Ryde
The leg down to Ryde Sands was one should I have packed the kite or not? The breezw was not too strong but was showing promise of filling in as per the forecast. As it happened the only boat razor kite was the class for boat double handed Contessa 32 Jemima.
Most people held deep water until they approached No Mans Land fort and then cut inside to get a straight line through to Bembridge ledge.
As I approached Bembridge Ledge I realised holding off Madgwind by running deep had been a mistake as I had run too deepand let Madgewind through at the mark.
Upon making it to around Bembridge ledge the weather in no uncertain terms turned, I was caught with too much up and in spite move my best efforts, had to at drop of Main and quickly get a second reef in. The weather had deteriorated to the point where my wind instruments gave up.
I later heard reports of 32knt in the gusts.
Return to finish at Snowden
The return leg was via the moorings off Seaview and Ryde sands ,hunting down madgewind and the Contessa .
As ever the leg to finish at Snowden was hard on the wind and involved a couple of tacks to make the finish
Well done to all who completed the race.
A prize giving was given dodging the showers on board Nympheas.
The season was wrapped up with an evening meal at Island Sailing Club and we were joined by SORC rockstars Deb Fish and Rob Craigie.