Trip on a yacht starting 2011-08-21 in BSASep11

Sunsail Racing Weekend, August 2011 – report by Sue Fowle.

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me to join her on a Sunsail race weekend from Port SolentMap. Sunsail has recently bought at least 40 new Beneteau40s – in fact 42’in length – racing boats and 13 were in our particular race.

The group races regularly with winners totting up points towards various perks such as a free weekend’s racing, a boat for Cowes week or winner takes all prize of attending Antigua Race Week! This meant that several of the crews were very focussed particularly the Russians who made great play of not understanding ‘wind’ or ‘starboard’ bellowed by a usually mild mannered member of our crew. Apparently the Russians fly in for each race and there was at least one French crew competing too.There is no obligation to participate in every weekend’s racing but a crew can book a one off place.

The 9 of us had various levels of experience and those of us new to racing were very willing to be calmly guided by our skipper. He soon honed the winching skills of 4 of us females whilst the other4 were the spinnaker team. Most of us had little if any spinnaker experience and this proved our main downfall as we lost speed when deploying it. Being told it’s just like flying a kite as the pole changes side is not much use if one has never flown a kite on land! However we did not get the spinny in the water and on one occasion dropped it successfully as we made a speedy turn around a marker thus avoiding two boats intent on T-boning us. That would have made it an expensive weekend! On the only time we did get in a tangle and skipper went to sort things out I was instructed to ‘take the wheel and follow that boat’! Luckily for us winds were light all weekend which helped although on the Sunday morning race we almost dropped the anchor as the tide pushed us back towards Ryde.

There were two races each day in the Eastern Solent and we came in 8th so not too bad for a novice crew. It was great fun – the excitement of the boats whizzing spectacularly close at the start and finish is very energising and gave all us novices the desire to do as well as our meagre skills allowed .I was very impressed how articulate our skipper was as he issued clear instructions when everything was happening so quickly! Obviously a man who can multi-task!!

Port Solent  50.8431,-1.1008
Weather at EGHN   4 kts from NW 18.0C, 1013mb Partly Cloudy