Solent Slog

Saturday morning and the alarm goes off, it is the Solent Slog weekend.  A 90 mile per hour drive around the M25 dodging the cameras ( hopefully) to pick up the boat at Datchet.  Bedders and Wayne already on the road and Nathan’s boat de-rigged and waiting to be collected.

We arrived at Weston Sailing Club and after a  lovely bacon and egg roll cooked to perfection which we ate  on the terrace overlooking Southampton Water in the sunshine, we decided to rig the boat and go out for a sail.

We remembered the  sun block and rubbed it into the only parts of our bodies that were not encased in our neoprene summer  wet suits.  We slipped into our harness’s and tightened the straps and launched into the flat Southampton water with the sun beating down and a lovely force 4 and we blasted up and down and had ourselves  a wild ride.  It was the kind of day you dream and long for in those dark winter months and we planned to enjoy every minute of it. 

It did not take long for us to both get into the groove and rhythm,  riding each wave and leaning back into the breeze as it lifted us higher.  It was  now time to take things to the next level and I raised the kite feeling the power of it as it filled and I slipped into the back foot strap and enjoyed the surge of adrenalin as we flew along Southampton Water.

We eventually came in, euphoric and satisfied and left the boat on the beach and joined everyone for chilli and beers and watched the sun go down.  Lindsey tempted everyone with her “dirty pants” shots and that got everyone going, some of us had a few because that are real cat sailors !    A very enjoyable evening with great people.

 Sunday morning and there was no wind but it was slowly building and  beginning to look promising and  by the time the race started we were  twin wiring.  A good fast beat to Browndown and the wind just died and we were all drifting around with the kites up but limp, desperately trying to catch whatever breeze there was.   We battled over to Motherbank where we were now praying for a sea breeze and the wind did pick up a little but not what you would call a sea breeze of course by now we are all very mindful of the strong tide that was about to turn against us. 

We tussled with Nacra Infusions and the new Cirrus, all the way from Coronation to Radio Cowes where thankfully the course was shortened and we were in with a chance of making it back.  We hugged the coastline to keep out of the tide, tacking into whatever breeze we could find all the way back to Southampton Water.  The wind thankfully filled in slightly and we were able to tack all the way back up to Weston and just made it back at 7.45 in 10th place.

It was a slog  but it was a great slog and the sense of achievement at finishing and taking part is what it is all about, that and the adventures you have along the way.  It is amazing how many near misses you have with ships, and ferries, and fishing boats and fishing lines and it is amazing how quick you can tack when you have to.

Many thanks to Grant for organising another great Solent Slog and to everyone else at Weston that work hard to make this event happen  – we look forward to next year where we might have a Solent Raid !

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