The Victory Class had a late night change of start from committee boat to RYS line, still at an unacceptable 1135, the wrong side of midday ! The change was due to the race committee looking at the forecast with a shift to light easterly winds and a strong tide at the finish, they wanted to keep us west so we could get home for beer. The forecast was windier than expected, but looming large clouds threatened wind and rain again (clothing choices made challenging!). The Victory Class were going west, our yearly pilgrimage, unchartered territory !!
Z71 successfully left their mooring with all the ropes in the right place, already a better day than yesterday… West going, downwind start at the Squadron line with the following course-
East Lepe s
Laid black mark (8J) p
Laid black mark (8K) p
RYS line finish
The fleet were shy of the line (unlike the XODs!!!) with eventual golden buoys Z54 very line shy but with pace, ended up leading the first leg west to Lymington. Z77, Z70 and Z71 were the next group chasing down the Cowes Week defending champions, Z54. Z80 and Z74 went far right towards Southampton, Z71 overtook Z70 downwind with some great kite flying from the reserve trimmer, whilst the actual trimmer (Stretch) searched hard with binos for the leeward mark. Z67 (self professed) were very slow downwind and Z73 taught them a lesson sailing over the top of them, Z74 were behind them.
The short beat back to East Lepe, dodging the Redwings, XODs, Squibs and Mermaids, led to some place changes. Back west, what was the tide doing? Trending eastwards? Has the Victory Class ever gone this far west? We turned our winning tides over to never before used pages.
Laid mark 8J was a delight to spot on the northern shore, Z77 weren’t sure if they were heading for a moored powerboat, Z71 was definitely sure where the mark was. Z54 was still in the lead but the gap was closing. On a bloody long run Z74 accelerated past Z67, Z69 and Z70 to set themselves up for a final hurrah to the finish. The last time Graham Stone was this far west became a man overboard, much to Munch and Jules’ disgust (circa 2012).
The last leg(ish) home included a hook around laid mark 8K in Thorness Bay, just about where a huge tanker had parked up for lunch (is it only ever here during Cowes Week?!). By now the tide was ripping to Portsmouth/East and Z54, Z77 and Z71 were still in the lead, but all was to change as Z77 got the tactics right and pulled away from the other two, Z71 had lunch and Z54 ran out of chocolate. These relapses in concentration meant the rest of the fleet caught up, some of us totally screwed up the rounding of the laid mark and bore away so hard the spinnaker could’ve been hoisted, if it was on the correct side! Z77, Z69 and Z74 absolutely smashed the rounding and slingshotted to the finish. Z54 promptly deployed the drogue, whilst the fleet sailed past. Z67 tried hard to get back into contention.
With a shifty breeze around Gurnard point, boats tried their luck in the deeper water but ultimately it didn’t pay off. Z80, Z70 and Z54 stayed inside (risking the wind dropping) but had flatter water, Z71 out by Gurnard cardinal fought hard to keep Z70 and Z54 behind but Z80 snuck through in the last 100m possibly due to the jib being backed on the wrong side by the youth crew on Z71… oops.
Congratulations Z77. Let’s enjoy the light winds tomorrow….