Created: 02 Mar 2015 12:14
Updated: 12 Oct 2017 20:27

The weather for February's Fast Cruise seemed to follow this winter's trend. A forecast for around 20 to 30 knots of wind on the Saturday with much more forecast for the Sunday which meant that a number of boats returned to their home berths after the Fast Cruises and used their cars to reach the dinner destination of the RSYC at Gins Farm. The wind, however, was forecast to be from the south, a much warmer direction than the NW we had for January's Fast Cruise.

This month two Fast Cruises were arranged. The morning Cruise started at Browndown for the faster yachts with the slower fleet starting at NE Ryde Middle, both fleets having a beat down to Peel Bank. The wind was actually a little to the east of south and with the last of the flood pushing boats eastwards turned out to be a rather lop-sided beat. At Peel Bank the two fleets split, the faster boats following a 13 mile course whilst the slower boats completed a course of just under 9 miles with both fleets finishing at Hill Head. Finesse had problems with a reefing pennant and retired before the start whilst Wolverine oversheeted her jib and tore it from top to bottom and also retired, returning to Gosport to have the sail repaired before the second Fast Cruise.

For the second Fast Cruise the last leg was planned to be a run from Gurnard Ledge to Beaulieu Dolphin. Some of the larger boats were concerned that there would not be enough water for their deeper keels over Beaulieu bar and by the time of the second start the wind had veered to the west meaning that boats would have to beat against the tide to round Gurnard Ledge and I had concerns that their would not be enough water for this maneouver. The course was therefore changed so that the last leg was a beat from Lepe Spit to West Lepe. Unfortunately for Wolverine she was still in Gosport when the change was announced and missed it. So, having had her jib repaired in 90 minutes, she sailed the wrong course!

The faster fleet started at Hill Head, whilst the slower boats started at East Knoll, both fleets heading for the same first mark at Thorn Knoll. For the second leg the faster fleet went to Prince Consort whilst the slower fleet headed for South Bramble. During this leg some boats appeared to be very close to the Bramble bank considering we were just about at low water. After another couple of legs the two fleets met again at Lepe Spit for the final beat down to West Lepe (as punishment for complaining about the original course). Although it was a neap tide it was still flowing strongly and boats that went inshore over the shollows certainly made ground over those who stayed offshore. Once across the finishing line, though, the run back to Beaulieu was very fast, we were recording 9 knots SOG! And just to prove there would be no problem at Beaulieu bar we sailed in under full sail with 2m draft and the minimum depth under the keel we saw was 1.5m.

Rain now set in for the evening and, rather than a pontoon party, people gathered in RSYC bar for drinks followed by the dinner. Barrie Martin had kindly provided 2 jars of home made marmelade for the first two boats on the two Fast Cruise combined results of the day which was won by Solid Air with Shearwater second.

With just one Fast Cruise to go results are very close using the club handicap. Finesse is just in the lead with 7 points from one 1st and three 2nd places and Solid Air on 8 points with two 1st, a 2nd and a 4th place. If Solid Air finishes higher than 3rd Finesse will have to finish ahead of her to win overall.

The Progressive handicap is not so close. With Finesse being new to the fleet lat autumn it took a little while for her handicap to progress. Although she is not doing as well on the progressive handicap now she recorded three 1st and a 2nd in the first four outings which will be hard to beat now.

The results for both fast cruises and overall are below for both ahndicap systems.