Race Report: Jog Alderney

Purple Mist
Skipper: Kate Cope
Wed 20 Jul 2022 10:10

Race Report: JOG Alderney

JOG Alderney was the first race for Claire Dresser aboard Purple Mist. Claire and I have been cooking up a plan for the last few months to partner for the RORC Transatlantic race and the Caribbean 600. JOG Alderney was the first race to build some qualifying offshore racing miles.
I’d spent a few days before on the boat working hard on Electronics and Electrics - basically putting right the recent substandard installation of my Nemesis display and original installation of my Steaming light . The latter cable had been shoved down the mast with no protection so 3 years of halyard chafe had effectively cut the power cable. Anyway the upside of incompetent engineers is I now know a lot more than I did before which helps build the skills in case of issues mid Atlantic. After all Electrics is really only plumbing with wires.
It was a 2pm depart from the pontoon and Claire was working hard until the last minute …I’m fact I think she was technically working until we started at 4:15pm…so like Admiral Lord Nelson she stepped aboard the boat and we were off to the start
The wind was a feisty 20kts with 30kts later. Tide was favourable but it kicks up a nasty chop in the Solent so it was pretty wet. My start was safe but weak as we put in a last minute second reef on the main. The J3 was already reefed to a J4. It took a while to get the jib trim right as we don’t often get such strong winds but we are going pretty well and started to catch the fleet. I was happy with the line we took down the Solent hitting the stronger tide at Yarmouth, Hurst and the Needles channel. By the Needles we were in with the lead boats as we all set off on one giant starboard tack across the channel. We cracked off a bit (as advised on the pontoon) and had power through the waves.
The waves at the Needles ledge were large and didn’t really seem to calm down as we tracked south. Gusts were now up at 30kts and I needed a wee….this is where the trouble started . The heads on Purple Mist are upfront and in big waves it is a pretty violent up and down motion. I felt perfectly fine before going below but 10mins struggling with layers of oilies and thermals and I felt pretty queasy. On deck Claire was doing a great job on the helm so I went for a lie down for an hour or so.
This perked me up and I was recovered enough to take over from Claire who now herself was feeling ill so off she popped for a lie down.
It was now dark, no moon, no stars and the wind was subsiding a bit. It was really tricky to steer well and so I let George the Autopilot take the strain. I was also feeling a bit sick again so tried to shut my eyes a bit.
Midnight and the wind dropped rapidly . Claire was on deck but struggling with sea sickness. However unreefing the jib and main can be done single handed so I stepped over Claire lolling in the cockpit and set about making the sails bigger. Claire rallied enough to winch in the jib sheet …or thought she had … until she projectile vomited across the whole cockpit. It was impressive in its volume, coverage and projection as it coated everting from the main sheet and tillers to the liferaft .
This was the lowest point in the race , I felt sick, too sick to try and clean up the vomit , but looking at it was also making me feel sick. Boat was slow on Auto but even slower when I tried to steer as I had no reference other than numbers. As we watched Jaasap disappear over the horizon I decided at this point the race was over for us and I should just relax , let George steer and shut my eyes to the speed.
I felt a bit better and remembering I hadnt eaten a thing since 11am the day before. and it was now 1am , I thought I’d treat myself to some homemade ginger flapjack. The 2 minute task to go below to grab it was too much for my stomach and for the first time ever sailing I was being sick as well. The positive was I felt instantly better and the flapjack was polished off shortly afterwards.
I was dead on my feet by now but luckily Claire had rallied and was up for some helming so I could have a Kip. When I woke I was still thinking it was game over but Claire had powered through and been hand steering with good speed . A quick look at expedition showed that in-fact we were doing quite well with only Bellino and Jaasap ahead and a bunch of higher rated 3300s and J109 alongside.
This was all we needed to be back in the game for the last leg to Alderney. We tacked with the massively favourable tide off Cherbourg and Cap de la Hague and flew into Alderney. Wind was a bit light at the end for the J3 but we struggled on and crossed the line at 05:30am.
Final result was 3rd in DH and 3rd in Class 2.
We enjoyed a restful morning then in the afternoon went for a lovely bike ride on some Electric bikes round the island with Kuba and
Maciek from Polished Manx. There is an awful lot of fortifications from WW2 on Alderney mostly built by prisoners of war reminding you that the island wasn’t always as peaceful and beautiful as it is now.
The Evening was a drinks reception at the Alderney Yacht club, time to swop stories of huge waves, leaking oilies and let just say the fish of the English Channel got an awful lot of supplementary nutrition on Friday night from many boats in the fleet.