Jul 2016

Round the Island Race 2016

Three Scods entered the Round the Island Race this year, Stirling (SC104), Ngaurhoe (SC59) and Firecracker (SC69). Stirling finished fourth in Div 8 and 67th overall, Ngaurhoe retired with rigging failure when in a strong position and Firecracker finished second in the division fourth overall!
Here is an account of the race from the perspective of Antony on Firecracker:

"ISC Division 8D was the last to go at 10.10, just on high water. We had a good start, and headed off down to the Needles hard on the wind under full main and our rarely used No. 1 jib. I was soon grateful that we had resisted the racers urge to put up as much sail as possible. Frankly the lee helm would have been irresistible in the 20 knot winds, and the boat would have been sailing on her beam ends. Tactically it was a choice of going down the middle of the Solent to get the biggest tidal benefit but risk the wind over tide chop, or go close in on the Island side to get calmer water but a little less tide. We opted for the calmer water and didn’t regret it. When we got out into the middle, the chop stopped her dead. Close in the combination of the tide and wind enabled us to crack on at between 6 and 7 knots over the ground. This increased the closer we got to the Needles as the tide funnelled past Hurst Point, and at one point we hit 9 knots over the ground.
We went the long way round the Needles. I don’t know the shortcut and in those conditions with fast tides and high winds going through the gap was something I didn’t want to risk. Some did though and one boat hit the wreck and sank. As we turned, the seas became very confused. Firecracker resolved the confusion with aplomb riding the waves straight and true, as others turned this way and that, and lost a lot of ground to us in the process.
Reaching down through Brighstone Bay to St Catherines point, we had Ngaurehoe (SC59) on our tail. It looked like a re run of the 2015 race when Ngaurehoe was probably half a mile behind us at the Needles, but gained by going closer to the shore and getting a tidal advantage. We weren’t going to fall for that one this time so we aimed inshore. We had a crew of 3 and weren’t willing to risk flying our spinnaker in a rising breeze on a broad reach, which we knew would tighten up as we came up to St Cats. Ngaurehoe did though.
They flew their spinnaker and genoa together. I really take my hat off to them. It was a great sight, and they really shifted. We were doing 6 to 7 knots but they had a good knot on us, as they overtook. Great to see and great sailing.
The second leg was calm, sunny and windy. We were doing pretty well I felt despite being overtaken and after the very damp and hard first beat it was good to have a bit of time to enjoy the surroundings. Nothing could have been lovelier.
Round St Cats and onto the next run, the sea started to get up. There were big swells to the South of the Island and everyone, us included, was having difficulty pointing downwind, and we didn’t really want to gybe! So we wore round and fought the weather helm across St Catherine’s Deep and into Sandown Bay.
Shortly after St Cats Ngaurehoe carried on under spinnaker, but dropped her genoa. As the wind got up she switched to just main and genoa. The, all of a sudden, just as we were admiring her new mainsail, she seemed to stop, her sails fluttered and it was clear she was in trouble. A line was flailing around with a purple race flag attached to it. It was her backstay. We learnt later that a shackle had parted and the backstay had failed. The crew were very quick witted. The sails came down quickly, and she secured the backstay to her mainsail traveller. She got back to Emsworth safely under genoa and motor.
We plugged on. Sailing along the South of the Island was testing but not particularly pleasant. The swells were huge for Solent sailors like us, and the boat didn’t like running under main and jib. It took full tiller to windward just to keep us on course.
As we came round the corner after Bembridge, we hardened up onto a close reach. The wind by now was probably 25-30 knots. Firecracker was in her element, flying along at 6 knots and keeping up with larger boats many years her junior. We skirted round the official boat at Seaview and kept as close in as we dared at Ryde sands. By now we were hard on the wind and had an adverse tide. This is the stage when spirits flag and tempers can fray. We had been sailing for nearly 7 hours and seemed to be making little headway on Ryde Pier, as we were fighting the chop (again) and getting very wet .We decided again to go inshore into Osbourne Bay to get quieter water and less adverse tide. It worked and after a while we found a good groove on port tack and started moving again.
We finished at 19.34. Delighted to be done. We had won the SCOD class, Division 8D and come 4
th overall in ISC. Overall a good day’s work, and proof that SCOD’s under the right conditions are still be very competitive.
My thanks to my great crew, Phil Brown and Rollo Lewis."

Antony Fanshawe 6 July 2016