Ten boats on the start line bright and early for an 8 o’clock start in the bay. Lovely bright sunny morning with a decent breeze so all feeling optimistic !! Zorra, our start boat gave us a course which was interesting without being unrealistic and with all boats, apart from Quadrophenia, flying their kites. Soon spread out with Amethyst in the lead and Quadrophenia, Resolute and Skykomish bringing up the rear. Wind was a little less kind once into the Solent and many had to drop their kites. Those who managed to get around Calshot spit and into Southampton waters before the tide turned against them fared far better than those who didn’t and had to beat against a foul tide and light winds to the f inish. Ocean Marina had changed quite considerably since I last visited, but the visitors berths were sizeable and the showers warm! The Royal Southampton were very welcoming and following a rum tot we discussed the prospect of how to get to Lymington before the predicted heavy rain and strong winds due to arrive mid day Sunday. Consensus was that we would make an early start and plug some tide in order to arrive before the worst came in. A Sailors Supper was supplied by Royal Southampton and it was enjoyed by all. Even seconds were offered if you could manage it!!
Woke early to a dull overcast morning (so the weather forecasters had got it right!!) and off we set for Lymington. Over half the fleet decided to get to Lymington come what may, and not wait around for the start, but in fairness, those that raced weren’t far behind those that didn’t. Visibility became poor, and the rain began as we passed Beaulieu, and by the time we arrived at Dan Bran pontoon it was starting to rain heavily which made mooring up a challenge and made you wish for those wonderful days of warm sun and tee-shirts and shorts as you skidded about on wet decks with full wet weather gear on!! Felt particularly sorry for the harbourmaster, who along with getting soaking wet, had to move several boats ,who had decided not to move on, so as to make room for us. An afternoon spent hunkered down, either on your boat, or in the sailing club, was the best that could be managed while the wind howled and rain poured!! By 5:30 though the wind and rain had eased and a rum tot and results (for those who raced) was called for in a select corner of The Mayflower pub garden.
A bit of a lie in this morning before heading out into the Solent for a 10 o’clock start with Deity as start boat. Wind on the nose and in the high teens plus the grey sky made it feel rather miserable plus wearing damp sallopets didn’t add to the pleasure! Out through Hurst and Shebeen and Zorra decided that the Needles Channel would benefit them for wind direction, while everyone else remained north of the shingle bank. Long tacks to stay off of Hengistbury were required but Starboard tack was very uncomfortable, with the the odd wave bringing you up short and loosing you momentum. Once on Port tack it became more comfortable and less water over the deck. Haven’t had a race as bouncy as that back from the Solent in a while!I As we neared Swash Channel the sun started to break through and as always the challenge of the weekend reminded you that every time you go sailing it’s different, no matter how many times you have done it in the past!!
From the cockpit of Quadrophenia