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UK Solent 6.50 Mini race - Closely fought start

by Graham Nixon on 5 May 2014
At the time of writing, Nikki Curwen is leading the pack - UK Solent 6.50 Mini race - 310 miles Hamble to La Trinité 2014 Graham Nixon
UK Solent 6.50 Mini race, 310 miles Hamble to La Trinité 2014, is currently underway. The race report 40 hours after the start, Saturday morning (3rd May) saw the Royal Southern pontoons buzzing with final preparations for the Classe Mini boats getting ready to start the 310 mile race to La Trinité. This is the first time the club and class has worked together, along with Société Nautique de la Trinité sur Mer, who are handling the Race finish.

The fleet of five 21 ft boats were towed out to the start off the Calshot shore at noon, in very little wind but, right on forecast, the breeze went south and started to fill in, under a cloudless blue sky. The start, at 1400, was closely fought with Mo Jo (553) and (741) leading the way across the line.

Mintaka tacked south shortly after the start, to get into the deeper water with stronger currents, but sailed into a wind hole, while the other boats stayed on the mainland side, where the wind was stronger, and quickly pulled ahead, pursued by photographers' RIBS and Club member Nikki Curwen's father in his J.

Mo Jo, the German entry crewed by Morgen Bogacki and Felix Köster, was the first to go for a code zero spinnaker, with the other boats quickly following, but they all had to come down after 30 minutes as the wind continued to go round to the south-west and build, so they were soon beating to pass Hurst Castle and head out past the Needles.

By now, Mintaka had rejoined the back of the fleet and was catching up fast. The fleet stayed inshore across Poole Bay, but at Anvil Point Nikki Curwen broke with the pack and tacked south to go offshore while the rest stayed inshore, in anticipation of the adverse tide at Portland Bill. Overnight the wind died leaving all the boats struggling in the east-going tide, but when it turned again, Nikki proved to have made the right choice and came out ahead.

Most of Sunday (4th May) was spent in light south to south-east winds of seven-nine knots, with Nikki sailing down the rhum line to Ushant, while the other boats had to make up to windward to get themselves back onto the rhum line. By late Sunday evening, Nikki was 10km ahead of Mo Jo and Vertigo, with Mintaka 2km astern and Lizzy Foreman's Hudson Wight about eight km behind them.

The leaders reached the Chenal du four in the early hours of Monday morning, with all the boats electing to take the inner route, despite the adverse tide and a southwesterly wind which is lighter than forecast. Currently Nikki is 5km ahead of Mo Jo, with Mintaka and Vertigo cross tacking each other 5 km astern, and Hudson Wight a further 10km astern.

By 09.00 (BST) the tide will have started to turn in their favour and all the boats will have six hours to reach the Raz de Sein in the forecast 15 knots southerly, before the tidal gate there closes. Once through the Raz, the winds should quickly go round to the south-west 11-15 knots, giving the boats a fast reach down to the Bay of Quiberon and the finish in La Trinité.

Boat Name

Boat Number



Hudson Wight

GBR 633

Lizzie Foreman



GBR 843

Toby Iles

Pip Hare




GER 553

Morgan Bogacki

Felix Köster



GBR 741

Nikki Curwen



FRA 668

Olivier Andre

Olivier Morvan



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