Saturday 20 June 2009

Round the Island Race Cowes 50 nm 20-June-2009

Rising at 5am to an excellent breakfast, the crew of Seawolf walked through a damp and overcast Cowes to rig the boat early on Saturday morning.
Round the Island race attracts over 1800 yachts, from the slowest 24fters to the jaw dropping sleek canting keelers with their powered winches and professional crews. IDEC with round the world record holder Francis Joyon and Ben Ainslie on Team Origin Extreme 40 were just two of the participating multihulls.

At 0730 Seawolf got a good start on the mainland shore under jib, then peeled to Code Zero, then back to jib, in lightening winds and adverse tide. Progress was slow to the needles, where we avoided the submerged hazards, then hoisted the R1 and gybed back to the island.
Our goal was now to catch and pass "oystercatcher" a very similar although lower rated craft. We achieved this by St Catherines Point, where we peeled to the R2 as the breeze had increased. A weakening gradient wind was battling with the adverse nascent sea breeze and we were surprised to come round the point and sight the becalmed larger and much faster yachts in the near distance.
Gybing to the point of grinder exhaustion, we worked every shift along the shore and reached Bembridge ledge buoy having made huge gains on the fleet and left the raft of pursuing smaller boats on the horizon.
As we reached Bembridge we transitioned into the weak SW sea breeze and beat uneventfully up the island shore. Finishing at 1606, with 100fters Liara and Leopard in sight, we came third in class.
Tom Whitburn