Cowes Hyde Round the Island – by Luke Yeates

Crew - James Moorland, Ella Moorland, Josh Grom Wilce, George Wavell

Nervous anticipation was building a couple of days before the race, with a forecast of 27kts we knew that we would have our hands full round the back of the island. Current QTC champions Bullit and Cobh Pirate deciding to pull out made us more nervous still.

The morning came and the forecast holding steady at 27kts, still windy but we thought it was potentially manageable.  If we had a hard time getting round the needles then we would make that our bail out point.

Hitting the start line, bang on the gun, beating down the green to Egypt point was all very familiar, with the new Mills keel working its magic against other IRC classes. Eventually getting a 5% penalty for being over by an inch.

The beat was going well until we tacked late away from a port - starboard and got rammed up the chuff by a Swan 36, which pushed both our pull pits down through the deck. After a quick inspection we decided that the holes weren’t big enough to cause a major problem, we carried on. Deciding not to attend protest meeting we took a 2% penalty as per the SI’s.

Getting out toward the Alum bay things were starting to hot up a bit, wind against tide cruising yachts getting bent out of shape all around, and some big rollers which actually Cowes Hyde was dealing with well. We decided that we would press on. It was windy, but it wasn’t desperate yet.

We threaded in between the lighthouse and the Varvassi wreck 75ft inside ½ ton yacht ‘Alchemist’ who managed to hit one of the boilers and we later heard the sad news that she had sunk due to the damage caused. Always a scary moment going through there in breeze.

We bore away and hoisted the A5 and were blasting down big waves to St Cats, under hauling a whole plenty of bigger faster boats. Video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-STkM03s2A4 Hitting a top speed of 15.8kts surfing on 2m waves. We sailed in to the back of the fleet ahead of us.

Once we arrived at St Cats we had some difficult choices, 1/ Continue with the A5 and sail VMG angles down to Bembridge 2/ hoist the S2 and run to Bembridge 3/ goose wing the jib to Bembridge

We tried them in that order, by this point yachts around us had recorded up to 42kts of wind and the St Cats light house had 3 gusts of 50kts. Luckily we didn’t have wind instruments.  We tried our 3 options one after the other, we lost about 20 minutes in adverse tide and broaching with the A5, followed by a few broaches and spinnaker wraps with the S2. The waves were in the region of 3m and were happily spinning us from behind into a sideways broach surf type thing. We realised that actually poling out jib kept us upright and surfing at over 10kts, out of the tide, all whilst we ate our sandwiches, lesson learnt.  In some of the gusts we could really feel the mast compressing, we were waiting for it to disappear over the front a few times.

Round Bembridge we fetched up to Ryde sands, were again short tacking against the tide helped us pick up lots of lost time, before the final fetch to the finish in 8hrs 20 mins

The best days sailing I have had in a very long time.  Best RTI I have ever done, testament to these awesome little boats.

Brian Thompson handed over the trophy, and seemed impressed that we had made it in a ¼ tonner.  To be fair I would do it again tomorrow. We won the Elephant Boat Yard trophy for first ¼ ton yacht