November FC- A ripping sail (literally!!)
The weather on the Saturday of the November Fast Cruise did not behave as forecast.. The Predict Wind GFS and CFC Gribs were forcasting westerly winds starting around 3 or 4 knots, slowly rising to around 10 to 12knots by mid day then easing again. When we awoke on Saturday morning the wind was indeed around 3 knots but from the east, not the west.
This, of course, meant that the carefuly designed course to give a start beating to windward was in fact a dead run. This was a blessing in disguise as the tide was still flooding and there was a reasonable chance that the fleet could stem the tide on the first leg from Browndown. We, in Juno, hoisted a spinnaker for this leg and after being one of the lat boats to start, gradually started to move through the fleet. I saw John Strode, in his chartered Southerly lead the short course fleet round NE Ryde Middle whilst we continued towards S Ryde Middle. During this run a very large, dark cloud could be seen somewhere in the western Solent, along way downwind. There were a few comments amongst the crew such as " I'm glad that is down wind" and "I'm glad that didn't pass over us". We rounded S Ryde Middle just ahead of Solid Air and began the beat back towards Peel Bank with the black cloud behind us and now out of site. As we did our final tack to round Peel Bank someone glanced backwards and said that the cloud appeared to be much closer. Suddenly the wind swung through 180 degrees, so quickly that I'm not surre whether it veered or backed, and increased in a few seconds from around 8 knots to over 20 knots. We had the No 1 jib up that is only rated up to 10 knots and we moved quickly to drop it and drop it down the fore hatch. While we were doing that a second, much stronger, gust hit us and, without a jib but with full mainsail, the boat broached. At the same time it became very dark and a hail storm reduced the visibility to a few feet. The broach caused the unreefed mainsail to flog badly and after a few minutes it tore horizontally across virtually the full width about half way up. Our sailing day was over. Through a gap in the hail I saw that Solid Air had also broached and afterwards I learnt that Winhover had just rounded S Ryde Middle when the squall hit.
Just as quickly as it arrived it passed through and the winds died back to less than 10 knots. The two boats left with sails that had rounded S Ryde Middle could now run downtide but the rest of the fleet were left with a beat in weakening winds into the tide. I was unaware of all this as there was a lot of tidying up to do aboard Juno. Eventually both course were shortened, probably a little too late, and a much reduced course was set for the second Fast Cruise. I cannot comment on this Fast Cruise as, once it had started, we motored into Haslar to finish tidying the boat before the dinner at the Castle Tavern.
The LSC Handicap results for both Fast Cruises ar available in pdf format here with overall results so far here. The Progressive handicap results for the weekend are here with the overall results so far here.