Yesterday in Cowes, the sun shone brightly and the wind forecast of 12kts was spot on… All the fleets got away on time and a great sailing day was about to take place… Unfortunately, although the south-westerly direction looked steady enough and certain to remain within the middle solent for a few hours, a predicted south-easterly settled in much earlier than anticipated..
Of course with normal racing and a good bunch of mark layer’s and RIB’s any windward leeward course can be changed or modified.. But alas this is Cowes and the courses cannot be changed, so beat’s become reaches and it turns very quickly into a soldiers race (Follow the Leader). On the positive side, if you happen to be race leader when the wind shift’s, fantastic !! This was exactly how Mr Edward Sawyer helming his beautiful Petticrow Cold Moulded USA 310 “Clairvoyant” found himself yesterday.. After a cracking good start, Ted led at each turning mark and continued to extend his lead….
However, when you race at Cowes you have to be prepared for the unexpected as Southampton is an extremely busy Comercial Port and many different sized ships sail to and fro the docks every hour….. The one that nearly sank Ted, Pedro and yours truly yesterday was obviously not looking (nor were we to be honest, on a starboard reach, why would you?), so only a last minute shout from GBR 761 Gavia and her team, 100 metres behind alerted certain disaster… When the three of us looked under the boom all we could see was massive bow of a 120 foot cargo ship travelling at around 10 kts about to “T” bone us midships. Ted moved the tiller, Pedro shouted tack and i grabbed Ted… We spun head-to-wind mainly on the bow wave of this huge ship, tacked around with the spinnaker twisting in the rig and then nearly got sucked into the propeller as we were washed down the side….. Then it all went quite and were sat in a total vacuum of no wind… OMG…..
Amazingly we still managed to collect our thoughts and were still just leading the race… With only one final turning mark to go, our first place still looked secure… However, the wind dropped and shifted 30 degrees right, making the tidal finish difficult, boats way behind were able to see the problem, stay higher in the slacker waters and compensate for the strong ebb. The leader of the week was one such boat, yes Camper’s Mr Eric Williams GBR 682 once again took the race whilst Gavia and Ted had to settle for 2nd and 3rd respectively…Well done again Eric… Although all of us onboard “Clairvoyant” were shaken but not stirred, we were very grateful to still be in one piece….
So it just goes to show…..”It Ain’t Over Till It’s OVER” ……
Higher, Faster, Longer…. (Brown Trouser)…… Stavros. (USA 310)