Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Poole JOG 2011

Eight crew members gathered at Port Hamble Marina in the sunshine on Friday evening. We were mostly new to J/109s so Richard (owner and skipper) gave us a detailed tour of the deck introducing the bowsprit and demonstrating a hoist of the snuffed kite and bucket. The failing light and the rumbling noises from our stomachs indicated it was time to head or some food. We enjoyed some carbo-loading pasta dishes at Banana Wharf before getting our heads down to ensure we were fully rested for the early start in the morning.

We pushed off the pontoon at 7am, and headed across to the start area off Egypt Point near Cowes, our ears keenly tuned to the weather forecast. The conditions were on the wild side, Force 8 had been mentioned, but we were all game for the trip to Poole so there were a few disappointed faces when the race officer announced the red flag was flying which meant we were staying in the Solent. When the details of the course were announced, it transpired we were indeed heading for Poole, just wasting a bit of time rounding marks in the Solent until the worst of the weather and tide had passed. Smiles all round!

There was a strong south-westerly, and it was a downwind start, so we prepped the number 4 kite following almost to the letter our marina-bound lesson from the evening before. A slick launch was slightly delayed,  while we sorted the tack from the clew, but we managed to get it up for a few hundred metres before we reached the first mark. The kite was then stashed safely for the rest of the day as we would be beating upwind for the rest of the race.

Crew on the rail going upwind to Poole
We zig-zagged close inshore up the Western Solent to keep out of the flooding tide, watching the depth carefully to leave our tacks as late as possible. After coming through the Hurst narrows we kept north, leaving North Head to port as the course demanded. There was a decent swell and we were all sat on the rail taking frequent salty showers – I'm sure our grinders appreciated a shower to cool them down after building up quite a sweat doing a great job with all those tacks!

We passed Christchurch and headed straight for the squall between us and the finish line in Studland Bay – a tactical decision which left us drenched but rewarded us with 6th place!

Safely moored up in Poole we turned the boat into a washing line and debriefed while crunching on salt-and-vinegar discos (appreciated more by some than others). Post-showers we gathered in a cosy pub for some peas (mostly served with fish and chips) and then another early night.

Sunday morning brought more rain – nevermind, none of our kit had dried overnight anyway – but with it some fantastic skies decorated with pretty rainbows. Once the nasty stuff had blown through we were treated to a pleasant run all the way home.
Sunday morning - Emily on foredeck ready for the launch
The course was the reverse of the outward leg, leaving North Head to starboard on our way back into the Solent, which gave us plenty of opportunity to learn the dos and don’ts of both inside and outside gybes with the J/109’s asymmetric spinnaker.

Back in Hamble we stripped Jangada Too of her sails (she is dry sailed), briefly using the main as a bivouac, as yet more rain (hail even) came down on us. A fitting end to a fantastic, if slightly wet, weekend!

Many thanks to Richard for allowing us on board Jangada Too, for skippering two great races and for all his patient tuition (especially on rope tidying!).


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