Race Report: JOG Lonely Tower RORC Spring Series 1
Good Friday was JOG Lonely Tower, a fairly simple course out to Nab tower and back. Wind was NE so upwind to start then a reach across to the tower and back and a spinnaker finish.... what could possibly go wrong? It was the first race on PM for Jerry, fresh from winning SORC last year in his J105 I have high hopes for Jerry making Purple Mist go faster. Jerry is "between boats" right now as lockdown is making new viewings abroad impossible and there is not much on the market in the UK. We decided Jerry was best on the helm (his normal position) and me doing bow ( Ok for me but not my normal position). Our start was a bit over cautious, JOG sensibly employed the longer start line - a great decision with 80 boats and most quite rusty from no practise since November. Off we went close hauled, Wind was a bit stronger than expected and we were going Ok but not quite at target speed or height. We were not quite doing the right jobs with Jerry was asking me to trim main.. though in my mind main trim is the helms job meanwhile I was prompting him on track and backstay. As I sat on the rail I started to contemplate the bear away at the forts, need to set up the outside lead, need to let off the inhauler.... inhauler... inhauler !!! ..... Jerry we haven't pulled in the xxxxing inhauler - that sped us up! Bear away at the forts and we were flying along, I took over the helm and we were still flying along. Lots of boats seemed to be high on the course but we were pretty spot on. We had a great rounding of the tower and up to winner buoy the speed was still good. We got overtaken by a class 1 boat with 3 headsails.... I kid you not 3 head sails ...I'm used to the SF3300's with there 2 headsails but 3... I think he thought he was some sort of tea clipper. Round winner and we deployed the A5 which was a bit painful until after the forts as it was too downwind. After the forts it was spot on. The A5 was not too happy at being flown and tried to stay tangled up so there was a bit of wrestling but once it was up it was happy.... a few broaches but where's the fun without a few broaches. Now that the A5 sheets have their little neoprene sleeves they also stay connected to the sail in broaches and don't fly off ripping the sail which is all a bonus. 4hrs later we were back over the line and 13th out of 21 boats in 2H and 59/80 in overall not too bad. Back to base for a beer and recovery.
Easter Saturday was RORC and RORC is always a lot tougher - both the competition and the courses. Wind was similar a fresh 12-20kts from NE and the course was basically 7 long legs of West and East in the solent... lots of sail changes. Start was Ok , westerly against the tide, spinnaker start. The fleet was split with half looking for lighter tide / shorter route off Cowes and half trying to cheat the tide off Beaulieu. We went for the Cowes end and it paid off as were were up with the fleet at the first mark. A5 was up again - this time it was a happy sail a - no tangles, a few somewhat controlled broaches and we enjoyed some great acceleration with some quarter wave surfing off a slightly bigger boat just ahead. We just made the mark by coming up in the lulls and bearing away in the gusts. Upwind we had the reefed J2 and the inhaulers !!! and guess what the speed was good.
Downwind again and up goes the A5, past Egypt point down to Newtown creek the tide was fiercely against us so we gybed into the island shore. We probably should have gone in sooner. Then up wind again, downwind again .. more A5 hoisting, dropping packing, hoisting... 5hrs in now and its getting a bit tiring but we were nearly there. On the last upwind leg we were stuffed by a massive container ship getting in our way, nothing we could do but sit it out until it past us. As we came into the last mark we could see the boats slightly ahead of us which as they all rated higher than us we had a chance of beating. I gathered the last of my strength and thought "I'm having you all" as I ran forward to hoist the code zero and blast after them on the last leg. Sure enough whilst we didn't beat any 2H boats we did beat those 3 fully crewed boats I had my eyes on at the last mark. Home again this time very tired but very satisfied with much less mistakes and better boat speed.
Day 3 was JOG again and very very light winds. We went through the motions but somehow I don't think either of our hearts were really in it after 2 exciting days. The start was going to be a drift over the line basically at the "engines off" point you needed to be in the right position.... and I thought we were... but we weren't. The tide pushed us a bit North and we got swept past the end of the line. No chance to get back so we retired. Shame as when the wind did pick up it looked a nice sunny sail and I missed the bragging rights of being one of only two boats to do all three races 2H.. that honour went to Bellino. Anyway it was the chance to do a few jobs and for Purple Mist to model the new UK Double handed Series winner flags (probably the closest she will get to flying them!).
Net a great weekend, all good learning and next race is RORC again on Saturday.