Sailing: Full Race and a Surprise Third
So, as we know I have been hanging out with the people over at Helly Hansen for much of the summer. Picking up some tips on learning how to sail in preparation for a full day race at Cowes Week 2016. Well, we can, we raced and we even nearly conquered.
The date was Friday 12th August. The weather was sunny but with enough breeze to make for a good race. We were in Cruiser Division 2 with our Oceanis 37 – which is very much a pleasure craft. There were a total of 29 other sailing boats. It was a surprise that we ended up joint highest handicap (along with other boats the same as ours), as the conditions and other (very good) boats in the field were much quicker than us up wind.
As always, the start was one of the most exciting parts. 30 boats trying to edge to the line in just the perfect time to get away quickly and grab the very best wind. We managed a good one, holding up a few boats behind us in the process and enabling us to be top 4 or 5 at around 10 minutes in to the 3 hour slog of a race. With a couple of good early tacks where others then followed our moved, we managed to get to a pretty solid 3rd, but knowing the boats around us were so much more nimble, it would be a struggle to hold.
When it comes to a race, you are told a course over the radio and in which direction to circle the buoy. We would navigate just 6, but with Tacks and Jibes every few minutes for 3 plus hours, the work was non-stop. I was Main Sail Trim yet again, but this time due to it being on the same winch at all times, I actually had less to do than previous races. Perhaps a little disappointed to not be involved more, I was always trying to find something else to do and another way to help the team.
So the team: Headed up from Sailing Logic with Skipper Will Spencer, then the team was pure Helly Hansen. Chris was at the helm with masses of sailing experience and then us writers. Myself, Stephanie @ Eat Sleep Chic, Sharon @ SportsWoman.ie, Faya @ Fitness on Toast. So a team of 6.
As the race wore on we seemed to see less boats in our class, three currently within sight out of 30. A bad thing? Well you would think so, apart from the fact after some rather ‘tactile tacks’ if you will, we were in second. We could see Whisper ahead, and would gain on them but they made too much ground in the early stages on early tacks being a smaller craft to catch. They would also take the week title after being out every day during the regatta.
So with 1st out of sights but sitting in second, our main competition would come from Haggis 2. Another boat around all week. But knowing we had a worse handicap, it was key to try and make as much distance on them as possible. And we actually did. Tacking up to our last mark we went ‘deep’ in all the right places to eek out enough of a lead which we then held over the final stretch downwind with our spinnaker blowing wildly in the wind.
And yes, we did actually manage to finish second on the water, most impressively over 30 minutes ahead of the next boat which was exactly the same as ours (there were 5 in total). With handicap we were put back to third, just behind Riot. A result well, which wasn’t expected by anyone and literally below us away.
I have raced rounded tracks around the world in supercars, including Silverstone but nothing compares to the freedom and constant adrenalin of sailing when you are well in the mix. If you haven’t done it yet, give it a whirl. And we will see you at Cowes next year!