Given the ever changing forecast, the 46 boats entered into the Hamble Estate Agency JOG Cowes to Yarmouth race were somewhat unsure of what to expect, but found themselves starting downwind and downtide for a great sail out past the needles, round the shingles and back to Yarmouth.
The leg down to the Needles Fairway Buoy proved to be pretty much dead down wind for most of the race, leaving the fleet to hunt out the deep water to gain most benefit from the tide. There wasn't quite enough wind for the asymmetric boats to really drive off and take advantage so the fleet remained somewhat level pegging down to Hurst.
The wind became lighter from Hurst out to the Fairway Buoy, and for some of the lead boats it was touch and go for a while whether or not they would make the mark as the tide was running hard and was sweeping them the wrong side.
At the Fairway buoy, it was the boats that dropped early to make a tight rounding that gained most in the strong tidal flow. With the wind now picking up again it was a beat to North Head, where with the wind becoming shifty inshore there were big gains to be had by playing the shifts correctly.
A reach out to Hurst again brought the fleet into the full tidal flow just as the wind went light, having the effect of compressing the fleet which resulted in a mass tacking dual close inshore to Hurst Castle to try and get round and out of the tide again.
With so many boats in close quarters a number struck out across the channel to try their luck with the rocks on the island shore. A couple of boats touched the bottom but there was no serious damage. The boats that managed to escape from Hurst first then had a straightforward sail to finish just past the Pier at Yarmouth.
Yarmouth to Cowes Sunday greeted the fleet with sunshine and more wind for the race back to Cowes. Given the expected increase in wind speed, the start was postponed for one hour to give the crews a more sociable start time after a pleasant night in Yarmouth. With a couple of hours of favourable tide, it was again a matter of finding the deep water and playing the wind shifts.
Again it was Jo Richards in his modified 1720, Full Pelt, that lead the way on the dog leg across the central Solent, round Snowden for a short downwind leg back to the finish at Gurnard. Another great weekends racing!
Winners Cowes to Yarmouth: (Class, Trophy, Boat, Skipper)
Class 3, Wilde & Partners Trophy, White Cloud IX, John & Alison Donnelly
Class 4, Finlandia Trophy, Full Pelt, Stephen Fein & Jo Richards
Class 5, Channel West Trophy, Shadowfax, Andrew Johns & David Rolfe
Winners: Yarmouth to Cowes: (Class, Trophy, Boat, Skipper)
Class 3, Georgian Trophy, Alaris, John Howell
Class 4, Gareth Roberts Memorial Trophy, Full Pelt, Stephen Fein & Jo Richards
Class 5, Western Approaches Trophy, Blazer, Colin Woodruff
The next race is Cowes to Deauville on Friday 23 May, please visit www.jog.org.uk
for further information and individual race reports.