And so on Wednesday of this week 7 boats did indeed venture quite a long way west, with an early departure from the harbour before 9am to a committee boat not far off Hillhead Sailing Club. With a SW breeze it was a relatively pleasant trip along the Stokes Bay and Lee On Solent shore, to find Jeremy Spencer - Cooper (recently met by some at the Seaview Regatta) waiting for us with a committee boat and numerous inflatable marks. Also present were the Daring Fleet, to share the course with us.
Quite a cross section of the class hove to around the committee boat, with the old (Z53, Z54 and z68), the bold (Z70), the young upstarts (Z76, Z78) and the downright nervous, Z79, whose new owner Paul Maidment had made heroic efforts to get Zinderella ready for her first race under his ownership. Paul was however rather well supported on board by Ian Perryman and John Scammell, as we were all soon to realise.
In contrast to previous years where short sharp multiple races were held, this year promised two longer races out over the back of the Bramble Bank followed by a passage race home. Very much Cowes Week territory and conditions with 12 – 18 knots of breeze and a fluctuating SW breeze, with a building west going tide across the race area. The information for the first race set the scene, the windward mark was at 200 degrees, 1 mile away. We got the sense we were going to have to work hard on the windward/leeward courses with the strange (for the Victory Class) concept of a spreader mark at the windward end as well.
Race 1 saw Z76, Z79 and Z54 promptly off the line with Z76 quickly taking control at the front. Behind us Z68 and Z78 were keen, but Z78 quickly seemed to have a luff tension problem as she left the committee boat. One tack and the broken main halyard was obvious, a short day for Jim and Mark. Meanwhile Kim in Z76 led round the windward mark, Z54 behind and 68 and 79 too close for comfort. Spreader mark, and back down the run. Some separation by the leeward mark, but then confusion for Z79 on the course directions, and she turned for the finish too soon. The rest pushed on, up and back a second time, not to forget Z70 and Z53 also having their own battle further back. Z76 first over the line.
Race 2, windward mark 230 degrees, 1.5 miles (how far?!). West going tide building, as was the Solent chop. Z76 and Z54 first off the committee boat end again, but Z79 away further down the line with something to prove. With Mr Scammell on the helm this time 79 went hard left, picked up the shift and lifted over 76 and 54. Z68 also took the left hand side and was giving 54 a hard time at the top of the beat, but 79 was away, 76 chasing, and 54, 68, 53 and 70 behind. No mistakes this time and a clear win for 79 after the next run-beat-run. Looking like money well spent so far Paul!
And so to the passage race home. Home is of course a long way west against the west going. And it was not going to be made easy. A short beat to a laid mark, fetch to East Bramble, a beat back west to North Ryde Middle, a slow run right up the middle of the tide to Browndown, back to North East Ryde Middle (just to make it interesting) and a run all the way home, in on the beach at Gilkicker, to Suffolk Sails. The start had a familiar ring to it. Z76 first off the line in control followed by 54, 79, 68 ,70,53. Kim seemed determined to stay at the front, 54 hung on the tails of his oilskin jacket. But the order was set, 2 hours of racing followed, where 76 and 54 extended, while sometimes with only 3 boat lengths between them. 60 years separated the boat ages, but only half a dozen boat lengths after 2 hours racing when we reached Suffolk Sails… another win for Z76.
Thanks to everyone who came to play on Wednesday, 8 hours on the water before we reached the tables outside the Bridge Tavern, and 4 hours of very intense racing, but there seemed a lot of happy people! Congratulations to Team 76, first overall on the day, but also to Z79, Paul, Ian and John, second overall and a great start for Z79’s racing career!
For a few official photos see here:
And for full results: