Crew member on GBR1702T Scarlet Oyster
thought it was high time we wrote a quick update on our race so far!
Its been pretty busy and tiring at times, with a forecast gale that has kept me preoccupied, after the RBI 2014, where we retired due to a storm at the top of the course blocking our way, this has been playing on my mind somewhat!
Anyway i am pleased to report said gale while as advertised is now behind us, and we are still all systems go with no sail damage (yet!)
The race has been pretty epic so far, a reach out the Solent was followed by a beat to the Scilly isles, my ploy to go rock hopping at the Lizard provide to be rather slow, costing us several hours and our early lead in class 2 IRC.
We had clocked some of our usual competition in Class 2 including the British Soldier and EH01, not spotted was the Figaro 2 sailed by a couple of the victorious Dongfeng Volvo team! These guys are racing 2 handed, and demonstrating what can be done with a well prepared Figaro, and some big balls! We feared a fast planing boat could be impossible to live with in the strong reaching and downwind conditions, and these guys have proved the point! They have sailed exceptionally hard and well, i guess their ‘comfort zone’ extends well beyond what most would consider terrifying! Bravo guys, a well deserved and earnt lead!
We have had to satisfy ourselves for racing for a second place (for now at least!), but that has been a great challenge, we were in sight of EH01, Azawack and British Soldier for most of the trip. Our big kite selection for the race was looking a little punchy, but yesterday we flew our heavy 169sqm symmetric most the day in winds at times exceeding 30knots, pleased to report no wipeouts, and a healthy top speed of 19.1knots on a surf with that sail.
Our routing had us gybing a lot, but we are able to sail very deep angles with waves quicker than the computer thinks so we sailed a little further North than predicted this actually set us up for a long stb lay into Muckle Fugga. as daylight dwindled, so did ourr bravado, and with wind topping out over 30kn at times we dropped the spinnaker, and setup a two jib and a pole arrangement.
As wind built further through last night we dropped the J2 and poled out the J3.5, with a doubled reefed mainsail. This proved even faster than the big spinnaker with a few surfs over 20knots as we rounded Muckle Fugga (there was a fair bit of breeze though!), we were pleased to see our direct route with big surfs had paid handsomely, pulling 15miles out on our competitors overnight
After turning South the anticipated gale arrived, our change to upwind mode from running mode was completed in relatively flat water behind the Shetland islands, the reefable jib provided extra excitement and fun for the foredeck team, as tying in the reefed sail cloth in 35knots with the boat half under water is not easy it would seem! As the wind built to gale force, we elected to drop the mainsail entirely and just sail on reefed 3.5 alone, protecting the mainsail. with some gusts around 50knots this was a good choice, we monitored boatspeed of ourselves and others (on tracker) and found even in the ‘lulls’ of 30knots speed was still competitive with no main.
Anyway, enough rambling for one missive! We are just sailing into a light patch of wind now so back on full sail, expect to see boatspeed falling to very little soon…
All well onboard, crew in great spirits (largely due to great food pre-prepared by my lovely wife) Mr B has done an amazing job of preparing the food onboard, as well as some great driving last night in some challenging conditions!
Pleased to report that apart form one broken jib hal, we are 100% on sailing gear still. Boat has been very dependable through the rough stuff too.
All for now, just getting light and i think we will hoist the code 0 soon