Hayling Forts Race

Hayling Ferry Sailing Club possibly the smallest sailing club in the world with the biggest heart and the most  hospitable friendly people you will find  anywhere .   A Cat Club for Cat sailors – how good is that ?

The Solent Forts race was a great event from the warm welcome, the fabulous location and the superb sailing playground in the Eastern Solent.

We rigged at leisure on the pebble beach front, had a lovely bacon and egg sandwich at the beach cafe, the sun was out, the sea was blue and a nice breeze was getting up.  The weekend was full of promise.  On the Saturday afternoon we decided to go for a sail and so we launched down a small slope into the clear blue water into the channel and then straight out into the Solent, beautiful champagne sailing on  flat water, constant wind, blue skies and sunshine we did not want to come in.

Sunday we started to rig the boat and fine tune for the predicted light winds and at 11am  Stingray  got off to a great start the wind had built to a respectable 15 knots and as you would expect the Vipers, Infusions and the pink Nacra 20 all took off on the gun and although they were ahead on the first beat they were not that far in front of Stingray  and we kept on going to the first Napoleonic Fort.  Just short of the fort though the wind died and we were all becalmed.  All  except  Stingray who continued to look for the pressure and make whatever gains possible.  It was not long before we overtook Adam Piggott  and then Grant,  Simon Northrop only just made it around the fort before us and Will Sunnocks was in our sights, this was sweet as.

As we got around the fort the wind picked up and I was out on the wire with the kite up, the helm feeling a lot better now having lost some of the huge breakfast he had eaten in the morning.  So a little lighter and better for ware we screamed our way backs towards Hayling and Bembridge Fort.  Stingray  was so hot she was smoking, the wind built and built and all of a sudden I was invited to the back of the boat to use the back footstap that was put on especially for me.   Well  how could I resist such an invitation, I did not want to appear ungrateful after so much effort and I rammed my foot right in, unfortunately he was sitting on it so he got my foot up his… ….. well anyway he moved.

We were flying,  right up on one hull, doing really well, comfortable and really happy and concentrating, it is not often we catch up and pass the pink boat Thriller  but we did, admittedly it was upside down but hell we passed it, and we had about 9 behind and about 6 in front.   We jibed and my fairlead came out of the slot, not good at this point as the kite was fully powered up, I wanted to get across and sort it out but that was not going to happen.  Still Nick was very positive about it and told me “you brought it on yourself, you should have checked, they were OK”.   Not very helpful really. Overcome as I was with the concern coming  from the  back of the boat I held onto the kite for the rest of the run with no spinnaker block, sheer muscle fighting the full power of the wind in the kite, I would rather have died than let that kite go as I would never have heard the end of it. 

 As we came to the leeward mark  I did state the obvious “I will get the kite down as we round up and go through the gate”.  Yes yes he said, and whilst I am busy doing the 8 things on my list of things to do thinking HE had the one thing HE had to do all under control as we rounded up I automatically went out on the wire and  realised HE had forgotten about the gate.   I launched myself back into the boat and threw myself across the trampoline as we tacked “smartly” ( that means fast apparently) if we were on tarmac we would have burnt rubber and we just made the gate as I threw myself out the other side of the  boat and hooked on.

 The wind had built and the second beat was now quite brutal as we headed out to Bembridge Ledge,  the waves were lumpy and came crashing over us, cold and ferocious trying to knock us off of the boat so Nick sailed  looser and  we had the boat  on one hull completely under control but right on the edge and it felt good, we were riding the crest of each wave and beating the elements.  The wind was building now into something that was not predicted, I could see the other  boats ahead of us and we tacked.  As I crossed the tramp I knew there was something wrong as Nick was cursing far more venomously than usual and still not quite where he should be on the boat.   Euston we have a problem………………………… mainsheet block exploded – GAME OVER

 Obviously I pointed out to him that he brought it all on himself …………………………………

Stingray will return next year, so if you did not make it then put it on your “to do” list for next year – you will enjoy it.

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