Yacht Race Weekend, Chichester to River Medina and Back

On the weekend of the 14th and 15th Oct was the last races of the year in the club programme. The turn out was good with 7 yachts, all of which were fully crewed. The event was for a weekend away, staying Saturday night at The Folly Inn, River Medina. Saturday was a passage race from near Chichester Harbour entrance to at mark in the central Solent. It was somewhat springy tides and a reasonable breeze from NW to start with which meant reefs for some boats. The first mark was a beat inshore to WE buoy then to head a few miles offshore south west to Cambrian Wreck. Calypso was very 20 mins late to the start (due to crew being stuck in road traffic earlier in the morning), crossing the line under just a genoa and mainsail only hoisted on the first leg. Next on the course for the fleet was a long beat into Solent towards Bramble Bank area with slowly increasing apparent wind as the tide flow strength increased. In the central Solent a squall could be seen approaching from the NW which it could be seen to cause drama for a race fleet of Cape 31s who were on a deep downwind leg with spinnakers set. After YachtDataBank the club course was to finish with a short trip around a few of the marks in the central Solent, first downwind, a reach and then a beat to the finish line. In the club fleet the yachts in the middle caught the squall first at YachtDataBank, then a few minutes later it came over the leaders and the tail enders. I noticed the squall wind speed was double what had been just prior, peaking briefly and suddenly to 27kts (at Bramble Bank weather station). At this point, after some drama, one yacht retired and another yacht with a Navigation error headed off to a mark in the western Solent instead. Minutes later the wind eased off and sun came out. Calypso recovered from a big heeling event and Intrepid quickly recovered from sudden heading up. Fortunately, no gear failures or damaged sails were reported from the fleet. All except Calypso then continued the race. As the race ended it was a pleasant sail/motor towards Cowes then onwards as a procession up the river to the Folly Inn. With all yachts rafted up on the Folly Inn pontoon, the evening started with a busy pontoon party using Intrepid’s side decks as an impromptu buffet table and bar. Later the Folly bar proved useful to quench thirsts, followed by a three course evening dinner served for all. Ipads were propped on at the tables for some to watch the live streamed rugby from France. All together it had been an excellent day. Sunday was an early race start time of 09:00 in the central Solent. The first leg was a beat to Royal Thames followed by a very long beam reach to Horse Tail. The reach proved tricky because it was a gusty N wind off the land and an increasing tidal current, consequently the apparent windspeeds and wind angles were border line for some of the kites. A few yachts stayed with white sails all the way, others switched between kites and white sails. A large ship entering the Solent complicated plans for the some of the fleet. After Horse Tail was a short beat and a broad reach, under spinnaker for some, to finish. It was a super weekend for all, just a shame it was the last one for this season.