Please select your home edition
Edition
Predictwind - Iridium

AAM Cowes Week - Remain safe without losing speed

by Robin Spring on 8 Jul 2013
Staying Safe Without Losing Speed © Rick Tomlinson http://www.rick-tomlinson.com
Rupert Holmes reviews some of the key hazards to avoid while sailing at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.

While Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week has an enviable safety record, there are a number of hazards that may be encountered during the event. Perhaps the biggest of these is commercial shipping in the Solent and in the approaches to Cowes harbour and the river Medina.

The sooner you identify a ship that may be on a collision course – even if that’s on the next leg of your course – the more options you have to keep clear of it with minimal loss of time. In doing this you can therefore often gain ground on competitors that allow themselves to be forced into making big course changes at the last minute. As with any other aspect of racing, it’s the crews that keep looking around to stay in touch with changes to the big picture of what’s happening around them – both in terms of other boats in their fleet and other Solent traffic – that get the best results.

Another possibility – though a surprisingly unusual one – is becoming unexpectedly becalmed in front of a big ship. However, this is one of the rare occasions that you can use the engine during the racing, providing it’s declared at the end of the race.

Staying afloat

Given the Solent’s strong tides, there are always times at which you will need to sail in shallow water to gain relief from a strong adverse tidal stream. With the exception of Lepe Spit, most of the mainland shore is relatively gently shelving, so the depth sounder will give good warning of reducing depths, and the seabed there is generally either mud or gravel.

However, the Isle of Wight shore, particularly to the west of Cowes, has numerous rocky outcrops. Here the depth sounder may not give adequate advance warning of running out of water and grounding has the potential to be dangerous, particularly when running downwind at speed in a big wind. The Bramble Bank, a drying patch of sand and gravel in the middle of the Solent, midway between Cowes and Southampton Water also has potential to catch out the unwary, particularly towards low water.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the other aspect of staying afloat is avoiding sinking – this can be a challenge for some of the dayboat classes that don’t have buoyancy and will therefore sink if they become filled with water. It generally only manifests as a problem in very strong winds, often as the result of a broach, although one year a keelboat caught her leeward running backstay around a buoy, which then slid up towards the top of the rig, pulling the masthead down to water level as it did so. Fortunately the crew were wearing lifejackets – the boat sank within a few seconds – perhaps a salutary lesson for us all.

Avoiding injury

Fortunately, despite yacht racing taking place in a potential very hostile environment accidents are rare. The biggest dangers to crew – being hit by the boom in a gybe, trapping fingers in a winch and being washed overboard in a broach – can normally all be avoided with common sense and ensuring you’re not in the wrong place on the boat at the wrong time.

Cowes Week website
Giacomo Yacht SaleWildwind 2016 660x82Ancasta Botin Fast40 660x82

Related Articles

Three Peaks Yacht Race – Hare Hill complete double handed
The race saw new levels of achievement with Hare and Hill becoming the first to ever complete the race double-handed. Race entries normally have a crew of three for the 390 miles of varied and challenging coastal sailing, plus two specialist fell runners for the arduous ascents of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, a total distance of 72 miles of running, 40 miles of cycling and over 14,000 feet of ascent.
Posted today at 1:26 pm
Extreme Sailing Series™ returns to the beautiful Madeira Islands
12 two-man teams will compete in the first stage of their 2017 season, which will continue throughout the year. Alongside the main GC32 Stadium Racing action, for the first time in the Series' history, the Flying Phantom Series will take flight as part of the on-water line-up, promising a festival of foiling for locals and tourists that is not to be missed.
Posted today at 1:08 pm
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro – Race leaders decided in Dieppe
At two o'clock this morning, the fleet sailed downwind in 20 knots of wind along the cliffs of the Alabaster coast. Upon passing the last mark of the course ‘Antifer’ at 2:40am it was Alexis (Custopol) who held the lead. With a dense race full of twists and turns, Alexis had taken the lead several times, especially when passing the island of Sein and before the Four channel, is winning his bet.
Posted today at 12:29 pm
A Few Rays – Moisturising, Anti-Aging Action …
Consistent moisturising sun protection has an anti-aging action Consistent moisturising sun protection has an anti-aging action Out on a boat, sailors are exposed to extreme conditions for their skin. There are UV rays from the sun, hopefully some wind if you are a sailor, and the drying effects from wet and dry cycles during the course of your day
Posted today at 9:39 am
New Cowes Week title sponsor Lendy gives support to famous fireworks
Cowes Week Ltd is delighted that this year’s fireworks finale – to be named Lendy Cowes Week Fireworks – will go ahead Cowes Week Ltd is delighted that this year’s fireworks finale – to be named Lendy Cowes Week Fireworks – will go ahead, after months of speculation about its future. For some months it has been unclear whether the renowned display, that is appreciated by locals, competitors and spectators alike, would go ahead.
Posted today at 7:20 am
Kiel Week - What a difference a day makes
After opening day was blessed with gorgeous sunshine and breeze, albeit shifty, Thursday was a massive contrast. After the opening day of the 2017 Para World Sailing Championships was blessed with gorgeous sunshine and a seven - nine knot breeze, albeit shifty, Thursday was a massive contrast.
Posted today at 3:37 am
Highlights from the 'Racing Forward' forum
The highlights from the 'Racing Forward' forum at the Hamilton Princess brought to you by PwC Bermuda and America's Cup The highlights from the 'Racing Forward' forum at the Hamilton Princess, Bermuda on Tuesday 20 June, brought to you by PwC Bermuda and the America's Cup. The panel featured two fantastic sailors, who also happen to be women and part of the core group from The Magenta Project, Abby Ehler and Libby Greenhalgh. I was lucky enough to be the moderator for the panel,
Posted today at 2:31 am
Audi Sailing Week - 52 Super Series – It's a difficult day for Azzurra
Winners of the day’s races were Quantum and Ran, who is currently at the lead of the event’s provisional scoreboard The Swedish team aboard Ran again showed their excellent boat speed sailing downwind and got to the first gate head to head with Azzurra. Ran managed to inch past and take the lead. Azzurra was right behind, then at the final top mark chose to split off with a gybe set.
Posted on 22 Jun
Para World Sailing Championships – What a difference a day makes
Only the Open 2.4 Norlin OD, One Person Keelboat, managed to sail, and they completed one race in variable 5-16 knot The day had a bit of everything. There were grey skies, heavy showers and no breeze in the morning. Moving into the afternoon, a sudden sunny spell was coupled with a heavy breeze, gusting up to 25 knots. The breeze declined as the afternoon played out before dropping off completely and bringing another rain shower to put an end to the day.
Posted on 22 Jun
Final night of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro
Sébastien Simon and Thierry Chabagny had chosen to continue along the English coast. As the fleet approach the south side of the Isle of Wight this afternoon tightening has taken place with the northly bunch of the fleet gaining from the days advances.
Posted on 22 Jun