Tuesday 22 June 2010

WightStay crew on the Round the Island Yacht Race

Saturday mornings are usually relaxed affairs for the WightStay team, but not this week.

The alarm went off at 04.30 and by 5am we were on our way to Cowes Yacht Haven to compete in the world-famous Round the Island Yacht Race organised by the Island Sailing Club.

As we went along the sea front we saw the first of the 1754 yachts already starting with the huge J Class Velsheda an amazing site with her large spinnaker as she sped away to the west.

We were one of the last classes to start at a fairly relaxed 06.40.  With the favourable North-East breeze we soon had the spinnaker up and were on our way to the first turning point, the famous Needles rocks at the western end of the Isle of Wight.

On the run down the Western Solent we passed another of our WightStay team, filming the event:

We rounded the Needles at 08.00 and dropped into the wind shadow of the huge cliffs. You could see the gusts of wind as they made little groups of yachts heel and rush forward, only to stop again as the gust disappeared. Eventually we got clear of the cliffs and headed across Compton Bay past Atherfield Ledge to our next turning point of St Catherine's Point at the south end of the island, which we reached at 10.00.

From St Catherine's Point we were heading into the wind and we had to tack across Sandown Bay to the next turning point at Bembridge Ledge Buoy, which we reached at 12.25. Then it was inshore against the tide past Bembridge Harbour, Seaview (taking care to go round the exclusion zone marking the remains of the old pier) then past the notorious Ryde Sands which were being well-guarded by the Ryde Inshore Lifeboat.

Starboard tack from Ryde to the finish, going into Osborne Bay to get out of the adverse tide. Then trying to identify the finishing line hidden by a mass of yachts. We had to go through the South line which we crossed at 14.38. Eight hours and eighteen minutes for the 60 mile course.

Then into the marina for a cold beer and to see the results – we were 150th out of 820 finishers in the ISC Rated classes. In the top 20% - very satisfactory, but we know we could have done some things better – could we have won our group? We were 6th out of 44, only 10 minutes behind the group winner.
As we relaxed at home admiring the superb sunset and reflecting on the events of the day we thought how great it must feel to win this famous race. Maybe next year?

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