Force 5 tests fast cruisers
<img data-cke-saved-src="/files/images/Individuals/carolgetswet.jpg" src="/files/images/Individuals/carolgetswet.jpg" alt="Carol during fast cruise 10 November 07" title="fast cruise 10 November 07" class="boxed" align="Baseline" "="" height="338" width="450">
A blustery day with a force 5 from the West greeted the fast-cruisers as they made their way to the start for the second fast cruise of the season on Saturday 10 November. With Snoek unable defend her win from the previous race, the field was wide open.
Chichester-based Ronhilda, plugging against the westerly tide and into the wind was struggling to make it to the Solent for the 1030 start and called up the Organiser who brusquely told the Barracudas captain they would overtake them anyway. Odins skipper had failed to set the alarm clock and his First Lieutenant was heard calling up the Organiser apologising for their tardiness. In the event both Odin and Ronhilda made it to the line within the allowed 10 minutes of the official start.
With a course set to finish at Gunwharf Quays the first two legs were beats and although the mighty Barracuda Ronhilda is not a windward boat; she soon eased past Temptress on the second leg past No Mans Land Fort. Now out in front the pressure was on to get the course right and knowing Dons awesome handicapping system, the pressure was on to put as much water between the 45 Barracuda and other smaller boats with better handicaps.
Approaching the Bob Kemp racing buoy, Ronhildas skipper called the Organiser again to confirm the buoy was actually there: It should be, but if not plot the coordinates and round it as if it is virtually there, came the crisp tones of the Organiser over the VHF. Much more of this and we could save a bit of time and do the whole thing virtually from the comfort of the pontoon.
But what was this? Toy Box and Artemis were heading in the opposite direction. Theyd taken the long lie-in option and were only just coming up to the start. The course took the boats out to the Bembridge Cardinal and back into the wind and tide. With a couple of long downwind legs, kettles were put on and biscuits eaten before rounding the most Southerly point of the course and heading back into the wind for a long beat to the finish. One of the great things about crewing on Ronhilda is that you get a good upper body workout even when not winching as the boat heels over and you do the equivalent of mountaineering to get up to the high side.
So the Barracuda slid over the line first, in a time of 3 hours and 37 minutes. The Skipper decided to make the most of the pleasant afternoon sunshine and gentler breeze to sail back and watch the other boats finish, Otherwise well just get in too early and get pissed like we did last time, he announced.
Heading back into harbour the Barracuda steamed past Temptress again just as she was calling up the harbour master asking for help with a stricken Sunsail boat she had taken in tow. There was Ultimo already tied up and drinking tea, they had done two legs, seen the bright lights of Portsmouth and decided to head straight there.
After a chilly pontoon party in the shelter of the STS Prince William, there was a quick turn around to make it to Caf Rouge for dinner where there was much debate about the results. The late starters had found favourable tides and easier winds and were both placed in the top four much to the disgruntlement of the other crews whod missed their lie-ins. Racing secrets were shared; with Troika admitting its secret weapon for a good race had been the specially prepared race food provided by its missing crew member who runs a racing charter company.
The organiser had booked a berth at Tiger, Tiger that well-known chain of salubrious nightclubs with an outlet at Gunwharf Quays. Those hardy souls who can cope with early mornings, chilly winds and late nights went off to mix it with the sweet young things of Portsmouth while others repaired to cosy cabins for nightcaps and early nights.
As the fleet prepared to leave the next morning the crew of Team Charter emerged looking more like pussycats than tigers, having made the most of the clubbing experience. An Imminent Gale Warning came over the radio which hastened the departure of several boats to return home. And finally, Big Dons Handicapping system was altered to give a time penalty to the late starters, which pushed humble Dufour 31, Positive Thinking into first place; gave Ronhilda second and Troika third.
The next Fast Cruise is to the Folly Inn, Saturday 8 December, Christmas Party, Fancy Dress optional.