Contessa 26 Wins our division in 2018 Round the Island Race
10 July 2018
Unfortunately, it wasn't the one we were sailing (or the one in the stock photo above). It was Mike Harrison on 'Jiminy Cricket' - the only yacht in our division to complete the course on time!
Wayne helmed a great mid line start in hot conditions and light fitful winds, with self and Gary crewing, we decided to make sure our first board heading island side was not going to be problematic. Weighing in at 5 tons, with a 20' waterline, a long deep keel, 'Little Corinna' definately didn't tack well in light airs, so that long board on starboard meant we weren't involved in any tacking duels.
The boats island side definately did better, but we did OK compared with many others Contessas as we all beat down the Solent towards the Needles after our late 0810 start. The ebb tide was running at 2.5 knots, and with winds going from 0 to 4 knots, it certainly wasn't the quickest beat I've done over that stretch of water.
We continued working the ebbing flow in the deep water channel mostly island side, but it became clear mid morning that it wasn't so much a race round the island, but first off a race to the Needles before the tide turned!
Sadly we, along with many others, didn't make it.
It took us until midday to draw close to Yarmouth on the island side, still watching a majority of the 1204 yachts begin the short tacks into the channel, just as the tide began to turn.
We tacked over before the reversed flow hit us, to try and get a back eddy in Lymington Bay (which worked) but by the time we closed the beach off Hurst Castle, the incoming tide was presenting everyone there with a significant challenge. Some lighter boats were attempting short tacking close by Hurst Castle itself, but that wasn't an option in a Contessa. Our only hope was to try to cross back across the narrows towards Alum Bay on the island, and possibly to grab a second back eddy there.
But sadly it proved an impossible feat.
Four times we headed out into the incoming flow and four times we ended up being pushed back up into the Solent. Every 1/2 hour that went by saw the tidal flow build, so eventually we had a hard decision to make.
Anchoring and waiting for the tide to turn would not have give us enough time to finish the race before its 2200 cut off time, so we all agreed, hoisted Wayne's new kite (nice), and creamed back towards Lymington with the tide under our bum, to find solace in a nice pub and the soccer on the biggest TV!
The Contessas are lovely little craft, and Wayne's got every right to be proud of what he's done to restore 'Little Corinna'. She's lovely.
But their weight and long keel mean they clearly need some wind to move out. Mike Harrison obviously got his Contessa going well on the day, making the Needles only just before the tide turned, but not one of the others managed to finish. Well done to him.
But well done also to Wayne and Gary for not giving up until it was proved truly hopeless......we were the last Contessa to give up, and certainly towards the end of the beat to Hurst, we were not the last one on the water.
Both guys proved great company to sail with....... and equally good company at the pubs!
Next year. It's definately on. On. On.
Round the Island Race fast approaching......
21 June 2018
I'm zipping back to the UK in ten days time to join pal Wayne who has entered his 'new to him' Contessa 26 in this years Round The Island Race.
With typically 1700 starters it's always a great spectacle and the pre and post race party in Cowes is usually fun.
With the Solent double tide which at times can run at 6+ knots, it's going to be a highly tactical race for any boat that can only reach that same speed flat out!
It will be good to see what we can do in one of these little classics. The Contessas have a large fleet sailing one design class so it shouldn't be kit but rather skill that decides the class fleet winner.
And you never know, if the winds are light then it's not unknown for a smaller / older boat like a Contessa to do well overall under ISC rating.
5 Clubs Campomanes
01 May 2018
Rellly struggled on this one.
We've just re-rated under ORC using our smaller headsails as so far in this series we've enjoyed mainly fresh breezes.
But last Saturday off Marina Greenwich we found ourselves slopping around to start in barely 6 knots of breeze, and it didn't get better out around the course.
After a good start we got trapped above a line of bigger boats so couldn't break free and work the coast on the beat to the windward mark - unlike both our running mates Aurora and Pajuelin. It meant both led us around that mark by a sizeable margin.
Got a bit back on the next short offwind leg, but stupidly we felt we would find more winds offshore, so went that way on the next longer 5 mile beat out to Alteas fish farm. How daft were we? Our competitors again sensibly stuck in along the coast and continued to benefit. So rounding the fish farm we found ourselves even further back - and to compound problems on the way our domestic battery completely died!
With no instruments we had a frustrating time trying to pick the right board in the fickle shifting winds, and whilst we tried real hard, couldn't do anything to take time back out of those leaders.
With handicaps applied Aurora got 1st, Pajuelin got 2nd, and we ended up with a 5th!
It still leaves us placed 3rd in the series but with only one race left in this spring portion of the series, we've no chance to improve on our placing.
So it's fingers crossed for fresher conditions for Calpes race at month end!
Top job to everyone on board for continuing to try so hard to get the Jumbuck moving in an extremely challenging scenario. Many thanks to Sue, Kevin, Eric, Edo and Gary.
Ruta de la Sal
02 April 2018 | Ibiza
This 120 miler is organised locally by RCN Denia and CN San Antoni. Their course took our fleet out eastward from Denia aiming to round both Formentera and Ibiza Islands anticlockwise and eventually finish at San Antonio on Ibizas NW shore.
La Ruta de la Sal celebrates the historic route of Spanish trading vessels which ran out to Ibiza to collect salt, back in the days when it was an expensive commodity.
It's an important event on the local calander, having three fleets all combined to end on the same finish line. There were 85 starters from Denia, a further 85 registered from Barcelona, and another 35 boats starting from Mallorca.
We went out six up and I was lucky enough to have my two sons Alex and Robert fly in to join with Eric Degerland, Rob Mitchell and 'Blade' skipper Barry McCrae. Together they made a really skilled team.
Winds were very light for our start at 1400 on Thursday 29th and truly, didn't favour us for the first two hours as we kind of drifted and gently beat SE. We have just re-rated Jumbuck using our small AP headsails, and whilst I like the better handicap, the APs are not as effective as our Genoa would have been for those conditions.
However, later in the afternoon the winds gently built and veered, so that four hours on we were able to fly our Code 0 - and it's extra horsepower saw us beginning to take time out of the boat ahead.
Most of those had secured a four / five mile leap early on in the race by working the Denia coastline whilst the rest of the fleet, us included, sailed a little further off. But by early evening we had all settled heading ESE and our competitors were well in our gunsights. By the time darkness fell, with winds now building to 13 knots from the south, we surged onward as we reached across aiming to leave both of Formenteras southern capes to port.
The start of a great night sail as the lighthouses on the bottom of Formentera guided us in. A brilliant full moon provided super viz on deck and we enjoyed dicing in close company with some substantially bigger boats all trying hard to pass us as we converged on Formentera. With our ability to surf on a building sea, none did.
Something mesmeric in hearing white water building behind you, up comes the stern, a smooth pump on sails and helm, and off downhill you slide with the white stuff tumbling just behind. Wonderful. We were all fully focussed and enjoying the ride.
As the fleet approached Formeteras second cape where the course bent north, most ahead simply turned and ran off northward. We studied our competitors in front (using AIS on the plotter) and could soon see the outcome. They were all slowly loosing speed. As we suspected the high cliffs of that second cape seemed to throw a big wind hole running a fair way north, so we traded up to our A2 and adopted a more ENE course sailing shy, taking us out and around that wind shadow.
The correct decision, as the winds out east soon notched up to 15/16 knots allowing us to eventually sail deeper and faster than those closer inshore. We enjoyed creaming along with staysail inside the A2, making 10/12 knots SOG - whilst some of those further west slowed to less than 2 knots. We gybed over after an hour, and fortune then saw the winds take the forecasted back, so our revised heading took us directly towards our next turning point off Isla Tagomago, near the top end of Ibizas NE coast. Happy days.
Simply super trimming by the team along with focussed helming saw us draw level and pass every one of our Div B competitors on this 25 mile run. It was fabulous having Barry as a 2nd helm and he continued to drive us up the overall fleet demonstrating considerable skill (he had never helmed Jumbuck before) allowing me to join Eric below for a bit of naviguessing.
Traditionally the zone we were now approaching, up near the top NE corner of Ibiza, is where this race can be won or dlost. When the winds in the south / south west the very high cliffs north of the islet of Tagomago always creat a difficult wind zone that runs for maybe 6 miles across the fleets course and extends well offshore. The choices usually are to go close in, expecting the wind to die but being inshore able to ride the gentle counter current and glide through the zone, go mid distance off and take a risk of zero winds or bullet gusts (whatever comes down off the cliffs), or go further off and hopefully retain some wind - but sailing a much longer distance and also bucking the southerly current.
Eric and I decided on a route that took us between options one and two. Maybe 3 miles short of Tagomago we first saw the lit boats ahead sitting upright and making slower progress, so as planned we traded down to our Code 0 early, and were therefore able to slide into the lighter airs whilst maintaining some speed.
Surreal bit of sailing for an hour or so with us making 4/5 knots in only 4 knots of breeze over a mirror like moonlit sea with Ibiza and Tagomago looming up to our left. Our progress clearly confused lots of the bigger yachts ahead as we caught up and slipped past lots. Sometimes within metres. We never once lost our momentum.
During our naviguessing session, Eric and I had downloaded the latest weather GRIBs and reviewed a forecast showing the winds veering and strengthening just as we should have hit the top right corner, but it changed a lot earlier and the wind strength was significantly greater than predicted. By the time we had our first 25 knot gust we had settled back down to our AP, but soon found ourselves thrashing to windward along our course towards the final top NE corner feeling more than a tad overpowered.
The winds at that time were manageable but wave set was something else. The short sharp confused seas caused by the waves and swell bouncing back off the cliffs gave us a surface resembling a wet egg box. Bumpy as with lots and lots of white water. All the kind of stuff that really slows a 35 footer trying to go uphill.
We had to live through a short tack back into towards Ibiza as we did a bareheaded change from our light AP to the heavy, but stupid I know, we hadn't rigged a reefing line, so continued to struggle with the full main as we pushed onward, upward and round the corner to then begin the bash westward.
On that five hour beat back along the top of the island, the radio chattered with retirement after retirement. I've actually never raced hard upwind in such seas before, and have to say it was significantly hard work. Still got the aches and pains to prove it.
The winds stayed strong. Maximum wind speed we saw was 32 knots but other boats close around recorded 40+. Felt more like 80! And we did it all with a full main! Top job by Barry who had taken the main trim, keeping us balanced with minimal flogging. But it would have been really nice to have that reef in!
It was a bright dawn but cold and very wet. The crew all hung onto the top rail as Jumbuck bashed crashed and lurched her way through whatever gaps we could find in the confused seas, but we often got it wrong and found the top deck totally covered in green water. Jolly good job we had an open transom as frequently I found myself helming with water flow up close by my knees!
Bouncy madness. But far too dangerous to send someone up on a harness to put one in, and practically it appeared by the lack of competitors around, we were still doing well.
Kept our trim up as we mixed it along that beat through the night and as dawn broke, with Slainte - a local gun Salona 37. They sensibly had the reef tucked in and looked to be having a more comfortable ride than we were, but we continued to trade tacks and positions until eventually both of us less than 50 metres apart, were able to lay the final cape before both bearing off and reaching down to the finish off San Antonio.
They crossed the line 60 seconds ahead, but owed us 20 minutes on handicap. We crossed at 09:38, and the horizon behind looked pretty empty. We felt we had really achieved something by simply finishing. The seas off San Antonio were white, confused, and angry. I'm glad we didn't have to do another hour out in that.
And the reason for the bare horizon was that around 60 of the fleet simply couldn't handle the conditions, and had retired to run back for shelter in Ibiza town.
Of the 25 that did finish, we secured a 2nd place in our Division (behind another local gun 'Cafe del Mar') and also a 3rd place overall the fleet behind both Cafe del Mar and the 50 foot 'Condor'.
What a super set of results considering our start and that full main........
Shower, shave, short siesta, then Friday night we hit the town. Good night out and it's not often nowadays I get the chance to get drunk with my two boys. Will defo do that more often.
Alex had to fly out Saturday early, but the rest of the day and the presentation evening continued in the same vein as the winds fair howled outside and turned San Antonios normally placid anchorage into a mill race. Got back in the sack maybe 3 am cuddling our two trophies.....
Big big thanks once more to a great crew showing considerable skill to give us a great result. In the photo about L to R are self, Rob Allison, Rob Mitchell, Barry McCrae and Eric Degerland. Well done everyone!
And well done J boats for building a 35 footer that could handle those conditions so well, North Sails for building an apparently indistructible mainsail, and Olimpic Sails for modifying our APs with vertical battens allowing us to gain a better rating. It all contributed to the end result.
Trofeo Presidente and 5 Clubs Altea
12 March 2018 | Altea, Cost Blanca
Enjoyed a blustery weekend of racing off Altea taking part in the Trofeo Presidente and 5 Clubs series' run by Club Nautico Altea.
At Sunday's presentation we collected two nice trophies having achieved a 2nd place in Division B for the Trofeo Presidente, and a 3rd place in Sunday's 5 Clubs.
Day one saw us complete two windward leeward courses in SSW winds, in the morning averaging 12 knots, but in the afternoon it was gusting to 30.
Think it was one of our slow learning days, as it was pretty obvious after the first beat that the shoreside right hand was well favoured. Those boats that worked that side in the 3 mile long beats saw a divergent breeze close by the coast that allowed them to lift along the shore, then beat out into another lift on the alternate board heading out to the windward mark. Our rivals Pajuelin (Salona 37) and Aurora (Farr 36.7) did just that and opened up a sizeable lead.
We got some of that back on the offwind run, to round the leeward mark in front of Aurora but still well behind Pajuelin, but for some silly reason, we continued to work the middle of the course for the second leg, meaning our finishing order remained as it was and with handicaps applied, Pajeulin 1st, Jumbuck 2nd, Aurora 3rd.
Race 2 saw us swop out our Genoa for our heavy AP as the weather developed. Did much better upwind but still trailed Pajuelin at the windward mark. Aurora close behind.
On the run we smoked, got right back on Pajuelins stern, but then fell back on the final windward leg and couldn't recover what we lost. Results once handicaps applied Pajuelin 1sr, Aurora 2nd, Jumbuck 3rd.
Sunday's 5 Clubs (which also forms the third race in the Trofeo President) was a coastal affair, taking us back and forth across Altea Bay. Winds were topping 15 gusting 20 as we lined up for a crowded start, and I was sure there were multiple boats OCS - including Jumbuck. We found a slot and turned back to restart - but no one else did - and none were pinged after! Bit frustrating.
Anyway, once we got going Jumbuck flew in the fresh conditions, both upwind and down. She didn't fly fast enough to catch Pajuelin, but we were less than 500 metres behind her by the finish, and right up among the tail end of the Class A fleet. Made a few mistakes on the way round (plus that restart) and survived a protest from. 40.7 that didn't accept we'd got an inside overlap, to get a 3rd place in the 5 Clubs.
But we've also learnt that in Jumbuck can go faster upwind in 15 knots using our APs than using our Genoa. So will need to review what handicap advantage we might get were we to use the APs for every race. It's a tad frustrating that we have a higher rating under ORC than we would have against our rivals under IRC, and that our rivals appear to have the lowest rating of almost every boat in their class. So. Bit of handicapping magic needed to get it all back to a level playing field.
Overall - Super weekend, and our crew of Rob Mitchel, Gary Illingworth, Edo Volker, Eric Degerland and Kevin Moss proved once more why I love sailing with them. Top jobs all round. Well done everyone!
Winners can be Grinners - XXVI Trofeo Carritxal and 5 Clubs La Vila
25 February 2018 | El Campello, Spain
It was a shame they didn't accept our 2017 ORC Certificate for the first of this seasons 5 Clubs at Moraira, but it only meant we went out to do the second race in the series with a little more focus.
This race took us south from Villajojosa, about 30 miles down the coast from Calpe. We took a days training session last Thursday and moved Jumbuck down to La Vila, and headed out on Saturday in very light conditions.
Upping our game even meant we eased off our rig tension for the days event. A coastal run from off La Vila a further 15 miles south to end at Club Nuatic Campello. The two clubs also overlay this 5 Clubs event with the Trofeo Carritxal, meaning we had the coastal race down Saturday and a complex almost circular race set for Sunday.
Got a good start in Saturday's 5 Clubs, short bash to windward then a long but shy run. Worked out well for our assymetrics and we carried the large A2 shy at 120/130 degrees right down to the rounding mark off El Campello, and the surged to the finish as we ran deeper still. That got us a first place in Division B for the 5 Clubs, but as we were only minutes behind the larger division A yachts, also saw us placed as the leading boat in the first part of the Trofeo Carritxal (which is calculated over the whole fleet).
All new 2018 certificates have been reworked to a revised formula, and whereas last year where we felt we were severely disadvantaged in our rating against bigger boats especially those tha carry symmetrical kites' this year, it's apparently changed in our favour. Aurora (First 36.7) finished near 2 minutes ahead, but was placed behind us, and Pajuelin (Salona 37) was less then 2 minutes behind, which last season would have see her placed higher. I did check with race committee that they'd done the calculations correctly, and was assured all was in order.
So a nice drink or two in Campellos tidy little rural marina and clubhouse, and off for an enjoyable evening watching SCOTLAND THE BRAVE give England a good trashing in the six nations. God. Went to bed feeling feeling satisfied.
Sunday saw fresher winds from the ESE and a complex course send us windward, then directly leeward, then a reach out around a fish farm, lengthy run inshore, long cracked beat back to the farm, round it again once more to run inshore, then beat to the finish off the Club. Good job we did have bigger boats to follow, as not sure we would have got it right had we been leading.
We did it all well. With the eased rig we had much more power upwind and easily legged it with some bigger boats, but upshot was we were very close to the leaders by the finish and also achieved first place on day two, meaning we were awarded overall 1st for the regatta.
Great result. Just as long as they've got the ratings right. If they have an we retain the difference, we will be hard to catch for the rest of the season!
Well done to all the crew, shown above left to right Rob Mitchell (bow), Gary Illingworth (mast), Kevin Moss (trim), Eric Degerland (nav and strings), me, Edo Volker (main) and Nigel Robinson (trim).
And maybe a big thanks to ORC for sorting out their rating system!
Looking forward to the next event, but we will all be missing Nigel (who flys back to work in UK shortly). He's added a lot to our performance and look forward to seeing his return after the summer.