Broaches galore

on Bite the Bullet, a Mumm 30, during day three of Skandia Life Cowes Week
Sailing out of Cowes is an experience in itself, weaving through on-coming traffic, avoiding the chain-ferry, car ferry, and fast ferry. This task was made more difficult when we had to dive across the river to intercept one of the Island Sailing Club launches ferrying our last crew-man. I was a little apprehensive when we arrived at the start area as the wind was already blowing a constant 20 knots. I had never taken the helm of a Mumm 30 before. It was surprisingly easy to drive upwind, something which gave me a little reassurance for the start. We had a mediocre start in clear air but too far down the line. Having finished fourth on the first two days of the week with a different helm I had a lot to live up to. It soon became apparant that we were lying in eighth place as we sailed out of the tide. Fortunately the Mumm 30s were the fastest boats off the line, allowing us to get clear of the Class 9 sportsboats by the time we reached the mainland shore. We must have tacked 15 times in less than 20 minutes, as we attempted to stay out of the flood tide. On occasion we got close enough inshore to see the depth gauge read "zero". We kept the boat heeling hard over to make sure we would clear the bottom. After that we kept to a minimum of 0.5 metres under the keel. Up to third place, and with the leader Pogo Bogo in our sights, we switched headsails to the 'Medium' ready for the fetch back to the mainland coast. It was hard work to maintain control of the boat as, with only the two sails up, we were hitting 9-10 knots in the building breeze. Impressive, I thought. "That's