Trip on eVent starting 2012-07-19 in BSA2Aug12

Day sail on “eVent” to watch the J class race – July 19 2012

The crew that spent the day on eVent and were there at the end were Dave Britton, Penny Luck, Becky Goddard, Brian Adams, Jane Jenkyn, John Hartland, Lee Davies and Alanand skipper Jeff Birkin. Special thanks to Penny for the provisioning.

eVent and the J-Class Yachts in the Solent

On Wednesday 18th July, having navigated our way to HambleMap – I would suggest that ‘drive’ was not a suitable word given the volume of water on the M4 – we assembled a number of the crew members and brought Ca’Canny alongside eVent (with Gordon showing off the bow thrusters) to make for a more convivial atmosphere. Sure enough, a few drinks and nibbles before the evening meal highlighted the fact we had no breakfast due to the late opening of the intended café. A crew was dispatched to the local Tesco and the necessary provisions acquired and split between the boats. A good meal ashore followed by another glass before bedtime and the inevitable confusion over who sleeps where.

The following morning saw bunks being emptied and the rest of the day’s crew arriving. Just after 09:00 the boats slipped and headed out to the west Solent. The folding prop of Event and simple sail layout soon had us pointing higher and faster into the westerly winds than Ca’Canny so we quickly lost touch. Although we were monitoring the race channel, there was surprisingly little useful information. The most common content was warnings and comments to the various boats that were crowding the start line. We kept well upwind (North) and behind the line. This worked to our advantage when the start was moved much closer to our position and, when the race began, gave us an excellent view of these beautiful yachts making short work of the conditions. However, it was soon apparent we were only going to be viewing the disappearing sterns as they set off towards Lymington.

I decided we needed a plan so, with a check of the charts and tide, it seemed the fleet would probably be close to the island when they thrashed east towards Cowes. We headed for the mouth of Newtown River to wait the return of the fleet. Sure enough, as the kettle was filled and gas turned on, we saw the fleet turn and head straight towards our position.

I can best describe the approaching sight as a cauldron of boiling water with small powered craft floating as a scum surrounding the J-class yachts in the centre of the pot. They were in an overlap formation with the front runner being closest to the island. This meant we could sail on a broad reach port tack straight through the fleet getting close to each then passing astern to close the next without hindering their progress. It was fantastic but as we passed the stern of the last boat, they were putting distance between us and there was no chance of following. Turning south we headed back towards the island as the yachts unexpectedly turned around a mark near Gurnard Ledge and headed back toward us. It was good fortune and meant they had to tack away from the shallows as we were closing the coast. It was truly a fantastic sight as we again sailed through the fleet and got a perfect view of J-class tack up close. So close we were inside the support boat – they had signalled their acceptance of the situation as there was no possibility of hindrance by us, much less a collision.

Looking at the fleet heading west again, we decided to head for Newtown and that hot drink. When the fleet turned and headed back there was one boat headed for our position and 3 on the mainland shore using the longer route but avoiding the worst of the tide. In the worsening conditions, we decided to head out to view the three rather than wait for the one. Unfortunately, we were about 2 mins late on the crossing which meant we did not get close – very disappointing.

Again we headed back to the island shore to wait the return as the fleet disappeared past Cowes. Dropping anchor in Thorness Bay for a late lunch, the fleet didn’t return. So a leisurely lunch was enjoyed and we headed back to Hamble and a rapid fuel stop before we returned eVent.

Hamble Point Marina  50.8518,-1.3099