Race Report JOG Eastbourne
Skipper: Kate Cope
Mon 18 Apr 2022 20:30
The weather report was not looking very promising as we looked ahead to the Easter weekend and the first Offshore race of 2022. Bright sunshine and no wind is great for a day on the beach but not so great if you are trying to race long distances…or any distance really.
This weekend I was sailing with Sam Hatch and it would be his first race aboard the purple one.
The weather routing tool expedition was basically throwing up its hands in horror giving us lots of dashed lines which equates to the computer saying “ I haven’t a clue mate, you are on your own” , though it finally settled on a 3:30am arrival.
The race officer sensibly moved the start out to Winner bouy meaning the first 3 hrs we could motor out against the tide in the Solent to the new start buoy. Time for a energising Hot Cross Bun toasted in the frying pan .
The sky was hazy with residual bits of fog . However it was made worse by some of the crappy diesel that these big ships use , flinging out all sorts of shitty emissions. I later learnt that another boat had reported this ship to the MCA as they should only burn low sulphur diesel in EU/UK waters.
Finally out at the start and Stuart was doing a great job as deputy race officer. Well done for the clear instructions on start times. His cram course the night before on You tube clearly paid off. All classes started together with Scream anchored as the end of the line. We were chuckling imagining the crew then hauling the anchor as quickly as possible at the start gun to tag onto the back of the race fleet. They did get a 10minute bonus for their efforts.
There were a few new boats for 2022 from the UK Doublehanded series so it was good to see them getting some practise in. Jam is a new J99 and Asgard and Kestrel are new Sun Fast 3300s part of a very fast growing fleet.
My start was ok , position was good on the line but could have been more aggressive on speed. I was in clear air though and as the wind was only 7kts that was important.
So for the first 4hrs or so we slipped along at 4kts or so , gentle wind , warm sunshine all racing to hide behind Selsey Bill whilst the tide was foul. After some short tacking round the odd sandbank (yes one boat hit it!) we emerged from the shade of the Bill as the tide was slackening and starting in our favour . We made some big gains as we went farther south and found a line of wind the tack into. Problem was the wind holes were getting bigger and at 5pm the wind died completely and we were left Bobbing about. At least the tide was sweeping us East at 2 kts. We had also chosen to go south as the wind been forecast to die off so was also afraid of being swept the wrong side of the Owers mark which was the unfortunate fate of at least one other boat.
When the wind finally filled it was more north east than the forecast easterly so what was mid fleet became essentially DFL..Dead last !
That was really really demoralising as we had been doing so well . I left Sam to helm and the penguins to trim had a quick Kip to regain my strength.
It was then off east tacking into gentle breezes.
Sunset was lovely and left it’s reflection to the east a rainbow of mist…finally photographic evidence that purple mist really does exist it was stunning with the full moon as well.
Next obstacle was the Rampion wind farm off Brighton. These are tricky for sailors as the turbines do of course take the power from the wind so it’s important to not route yourself downwind of them.
By 11pm the wind had built to 10-12 kts and now we were flying. Thanks to the Doublehanded upwind training clinics I’ve got a much better handle on the correct settings so was much faster than normal . Finally we were reeling boats in. The wind continued to build to 10-15 kts and my winter job of a newly built backstay arrangement was working a treat . My Dyneema splices were all running smoothly and the extra ratio meant I could easily pull on 1300kg. So satisfying to see the speed climb 0.5kts.
For the final section the tide tuned against us so we tacking against wind and tide. Speed was still good , faster than others as we chose to tack into the cliffs to try and escape the tide. Sam was on the plotter looking for hazards and I was on the helm pulling on and off the backstay to gain every scrap of speed. 4hrs of helming later we finally reached the finish at Beachy Head lighthouse…. My arms could take a rest.
Eastbourne marina is just round the corner and I’d never been in before . It’s a locked entrance with a dredged approach channel. At 5am I called up the lock and as we entered the channel the depth looked shallow so I radioed for advice . Just as the harbour staff were saying there was 3.6m of water , my depth gauge said 0.2m under the 2m of Keel then zero so I bailed out and as I turned round bumped the mud. Slightly embarrassed as I was on the radio at the time and they heard my squeal of surprise. They radioed to check I was OK so I had to apologise for squealing and all was well aboard.
Next came the real torture, we had to motor about slowly for 3 hrs whilst the tide fell and rose again, meanwhile 2 boats with the same draft as me crept through the channel at the same place I went aground ! It was utterly baffling . There we were freezing and both knackered and just desperate to get onto a pontoon .
So at 8am it was a real relief to gingerly make our way towards the channel again. This time we were behind a JOG boat being towed as their starter motor had packed up. Guess what they went aground ahead of me …both boats ! So it was out again for a few more circles until they floated off.
Anyway all torture was forgotten when we looked at the scores to see that Purple Mist had won the Doublehanded class and a respectable 4th on Class 2.
Overall winner was Just So who did an amazing job of being 45mins ahead of the next best boat Scream. We shall rename then “Just So Fast”
Saturday afternoon , Beers and the traditional chocolate eggs were enjoyed in the Sovereign Harbour Yacht club.
Sunday was the race home , nothing like as successful but that’s another story.