Cowes Week 2012 Round up

Cowes Week 2012: Round up
Skipper: Simon Wilson

Well what a week we had.  I would like to thank everyone who joined the boat during Cowes Week for helping make it a great weeks sailing.

We had a little bit of everything, light winds, strong winds, downpours and blistering sunshine, but what was consistent was brilliant one design racing.

Friday – Training Day
With light winds forecast we set out in the sunshine to hoist our sails and have a little practice. We sailed to Osborne Bay and raced around a few cans on the way, before anchoring for lunch.  After a run through on hoisting the spinnaker we set off and sailed back to Cowes practicing a few gybes as we went.  With the promise for similar winds on Saturday and a few more crew we berthed in Cowes around 16.00, so plenty of time for me to register and get our competitor cards.

Saturday – Day 1
The ‘light winds’ forecast turned out to be ‘moderate winds’ from the East- so much for iPhone’s weather apps (other smart phone are available), so we had a choppy sea and more wind than we needed.  After a disastrous startwe had a small accident while hoisting the spinnaker, Cat slipping and catching her neck on the guard wire, she was a little shaken and I feared she might have a concussion so we retired just in case (its only a race and things always happen in 3’s). On the way into Cowes  as we prepared to drop the main sail I looked up to see a huge tear in our main sail, no explanation for why it happened but thankfully with sail makers on hand we got it patched that evening allowing us to sail the next day. Things can only get better.

Sunday – Day 2
Our goal for today was to start on time, finish the race and to break nothing.  Thankfully Cat was fine and joined us racing, and after an ok start and a slow first few legs we noticed a boat in our class up ahead, we worked hard and over took just before the last leg and kept our lead till the finish , with nothing broken and finishing the race a great day all round.

Monday – Day 3
We had 5 new crew for Monday but the good news most of them were there for the week so hopefully we could gel and start to get better results. Well with our start better than Saturday but much worse than Sunday we set off to see if we could catch up with a couple of boats, we managed to get a head of Sigmania who we beat on Sunday and were only a couple of boat lengths behind Gambit. As a crew we did well but Gambit have been sailing together for years and managed to build a cushion we couldn’t claw back.

Tuesday – Day 4
We ended up rafted alongside Gambit the previous evening and as we all prepared Gambit wished us good luck but hoped not to see us so close, well that was our target for today then to beat Gambit.  We had a great race, a fantastic start we were the lead boat, around the first mark still in 4th, then we had spinnaker problems, and slipped down the field.  At the final mark we were ahead of Sigmania, Sigmagican but more importantly Gambit.  The boats were within boat lengths of each other and after the final leg the three of us didn’t know who beat who.  After we got in we discovered that Sigmagican had beaten us by 26 seconds and Gambit had beaten us by 8 seconds after 4 ½ hours of racing.  It was a little disappointing but there was always tomorrow.

Wednesday – Day 5
We awoke to hear the wind howling through the rigging as we waited to hear if racing was cancelled we welcomed a new crew member aboard.  Racing was cancelled for a large proportion of the fleet due to forecast wind speeds of 30 – 35 knots, but our race started on time and as we prepared for the start we only had 12 knots of wind.  It was a slow start as everyone was expecting more wind and those who could change their sails the fastest made huge gains.  We decided to play it safe but lost out on the first half as the wind veered by almost 120 degrees, and a boat in another class got in our way rounding the first mark I politely mentioned (well mentioned) that he had ruined the mark rounding for both of us (my voice is still horse and the crew were please I vented my anger on the poor skipper rather than them). With gusts of 25 – 30 knots we thought  the worst winds had passed, and as we had  flown the spinnaker in 25 – 27 knots the other day, we felt confident as a crew that we could handle it.  Shortly after we hoisted and gybed (thank God we did) we went from 12 knots to 42 knots, quicker than I could say drop the spinnaker!  There were shouts of blow the halyard (or something to those effects) and before long we were recovering the spinnaker from the water with nothing broken and only a few fresh bruises.  We thought about retiring but as we only had 2 marks to go we decided to finish the race.  I’m glad we did we finally made the top 10.

Thursday – Day 6
From the highs of Wednesday and Thursday, Lady (Bad) Luck raised her ugly head again.  I had retied the spinnaker sheets and guys that morning due to a fraying rope, but forgot to check how tight the knots where and as we started the race in the middle of the pack and everyone including us hoisted our spinnakers my knots came undone, we had the fleet’s biggest flag flying from our mast, (didn’t I feel stupid).  We retied the lines but by this stage had lost lots of time. It proceeded to be a difficult day, we hoisted the spinnaker sideways much to the amusement of the boat behind then on the last leg, we decided to hoist our pulpit ( the guard to stop people falling off the front of the boat) so with tempers frayed and a broken boat we retired to see if we could get it fixed.  After we had sorted everything out we all went for a drink, and we decided that no matter what happened tomorrow we were going to enjoy our day on the water.

Friday – Day 7
Sunshine and nice wind were forecast so we went out early, got a great start, and other than a couple of mistakes made rounding marks, we had a great time.  We were close to Gambit but they built a lead and Flying Formula and Sigmania closed up on us.  At the final mark we had a comfortable lead on the other 2 boats, but as we went inshore to get out of the tide Flying Formula and Sigmania stayed out and managed to get more wind, they sailed past us like we had stopped.  We finally finished a couple of minutes behind them, but it didn’t matter we had all had a great day  The week ended with a Chinese takeaway on board, with plenty of beer and wine everyone was able to relax and watch the fireworks display to bring Cowes to a close for another year.

I’m looking forward to next year’s regatta but with the Hamble Winter Series to get ready for there is still plenty of one design racing to come this year.

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