Jbellino claims Solo Channel Week
At 1700 on 11 August fourteen yachts set off from Lymington to Torquay in the first race of five taking them to Mylor, Falmouth and back.
Skippers were all soon smiling as they crossed Christchurch Bay with 20 knots of southeasterly breeze giving a fast reach westwards with a
building ebb tide. This carried all through the night across Lyme Bay, everyone passing Portland before midnight and the turn of the tide.
Dawn on Sunday the breeze become light as forecast making for a tricky finish for slower boats as they closed in on Torquay. The race was won on IRC by Barry Hurley on his JOD 35 Dinah finishing at 06.32 from Ding Dong second, all boats in by 1100 hrs.
Monday morning race two left Torbay heading due south on starboard tack into 18 knots of wind before tacking to clear Start Point and bear off for the fetch to Plymouth, some had to put in a couple of extra tacks to clear Start Point. Gains were made by a few putting up spinnakers at the Mew Stone for the last mile run to the finish at the East end of Plymouth breakwater, Rob Craigie on the J/122 Jbellino winning with Ding Dong second.
Tuesday, with a leg from Plymouth to Mylor, was Code Zero day! Following a half hour delay to let the cross channel ferry go and the British Navy to vacate Plymouth Sound the fleet started just off the wind on port tack out to Rame head before freeing off for the fetch to Falmouth. Jbellino once again was soon off in front. Once around Ram Head with the wind a steady 10 knots at 55° apparent Nikki Curwen on the J/105 Voador, took some height then bore off and set her Code Zero closely followed by the pair of Sunfast 3200s - Fastrak and Roxanne - and the modified Figaro 2 Rare. Rob Craigie set an asymmetric on Jbellino as did Barry Hurley on Dinah. Chris Rustom on Ding Dong tried a symmetric spinnaker, but could not hold the line and well down the leg returned to white sails to make the course - the same story for Myles Perrin on the Capo 30 Santana. All yachts were, as in Plymouth, able to fly symmetric spinnakers for the final mile into the harbour entrance dead downwind in the sunshine amongst the new and traditional boats racing in the harbour for Falmouth Week, Rob Craigie winning again just ahead of Nigel Colley’s Sunfast 3200 Fastrak V111, in second and sistership Roxanne third.
Having rafted up on the south side of Mylor Marina at 1915, staff advised we move all to inside berths available as the wind increased and overnight gale forecast – solo skippers teamed up with marina staff and never have so many yachts been moved so fast without incident to avoid being too late for superb meal at Castaways Restaurant – credit to all.
After a lay day in Mylor Thursday morning the fourth race started in the mouth of Falmouth Harbour heading back east was the most competitive start of the week with Myles Perrin on Santana right on the line with Nigel Colley’s Fastrak on his hip, Ding Dong to leeward and about six others chasing just a boat length or two back. The winds had fortunately dropped from force eight forecast, but a lumpy sea was left over. After the half mile on starboard tack to the headland sheets were eased and a 35 mile fetch to the finish back in Plymouth leg began. Given the weather Race Director for the week Chris Rustom prudently shortened the leg from proposed destination of Brixham to Plymouth.
Jbellino, Ding Dong and Rare - top raters - were all soon ahead with Ian Hoddle’s Figaro 2 Rare claiming line honours. Three yachts rigged Code Zeros or asymmetric spinnakers, but none hoisted as the wind increased and the angle became just too shy. After the strong winds of the previous day a long swell gave some good surfing and all finished in quick succession. Jerry Freeman won the day by five minutes clear with the J/105 Juliette, second came Simon Mitchel's Sunfast 3200 Roxanne. The first 11 yachts all finished within 16 minutes on IRC.
The final leg from Plymouth to Lymington was delayed as with 45 knot gusts recorded on Plymouth breakwater and heavy showers this was no place to send SORC fleet, the race finally got away in sunshine at 1700. The light wind shifted southeast and then swung from ESE making sailing very frustrating in the long swell left over from strong winds previous.
As the fleet made painfully slow progress along the coast to Start Point, at the headland Ding Dong and Rare struggled to make any progress against the tide, course over ground going in all directions - occasionally backwards. Rob Craigie found some breeze and made a leap ahead picking up a fresh southerly to reach off across Lyme Bay first. The rest of the fleet finally got to share this and set spinnakers making good progress homeward.
Rob Craigie on Jbellino was first again - winning three of the five legs. Ding Dong was second and a brilliant third place by Myles Perrin on Santana which coming from a 0.935 IRC was excellent given the tidal advantage the faster boats had on this leg. Impro, Geofon and Catch 22 all motored into Lymington among river posts and the ferry deserving navigation accolades in thick fog after 2100, one skipper likening the experience to a PlayStation game avoiding the obstacles!
The prizegiving and supper was enjoyed at Royal Lymington YC with race officers Kirsteen Donaldson and David Giddings. Channel Week Rookie prize going to Nikki Curwen on J/105 Voador. Class 2 winner was Nigel Colley on the Sunfast 3200 Fastrak V111.
First Rob Craigie -J/122 - Jbellino
Second Chris Rustom - Stewart 37 - Ding Dong
Third Barry Hurley - JOD 35 - Dinah
Next SORC race is from Yarmouth on 15 September before the final Solent series race of 2012 on 6 October.