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RORC De Guingand Bowl Race

Friday, 25 May 2007
Event: RORC De Guingand Bowl Race Date: 19 -20th May Report by: Charlotte Lawrence The race started at 8.30 on Saturday morning from Cowes in a building force 4 to 5 breeze and bright sunshine. We were all ready at the start line and with 6 girls in the 11 crew, we were a decidedly girlie boat. There was lots of gossip, which I think the boys found educational! We began with our trusty A5 and reached down the Solent towards the forts. Colette did a brilliant job of steering the tight reach and we did not have to take the kite down until well past the forts. We rounded our first mark somewhere past Selsey Bill around 13.00. The big spring tide was the strongest I’d ever seen on a mark. After we rounded we started on a 40 mile upwind leg. After about an hour it was time to change jib to the number four as the wind was building and the tide had turned. The wind against tide meant the waves were steep and sfter a successful tack change we were sailing faster and with more ease. We rotated driver and trimmers continually. The steep waves were very difficult to steer over and trimming the main sheet was a continuous job that took a lot of strength. Getting a wave wrong was unpopular with everyone as it usually resulted in drenching for the whole crew! At 17.30 we finally reached the top mark. Ian won the game at guessing the time we would arrive at the mark. We started with the A5 again and began downwind, it was nice to be going downwind and have time to tidy up, eat and rest. Hannah cooked fantastic pasta. Colette quoted one of the best bits of the race being waking up to the smell of a very welcome meal! With ‘Chernikeff’ still in our sights the top speed of the race of 17.8 knots was reached before the wind began to die! We changed up to a 2S spinnaker and continued slightly more slowly towards the mark we had been round 10 hours previously. With the big sea and dying breeze it was important to keep the boat speed up. As it turned dark we rounded the mark past Selsey Bill and were homeward bound with a small detour around the Nab tower. The stars and new moon were a brilliant sight. The wind was dying and eventually at 02.58, after several tacks in the tide to get to the line, we finished the race just off Gosport. The race had taken us 18 hours. The race was good fun and everyone enjoyed it. In terms of the race being preparation for the Fastnet we learnt several things: it seems important to be always thinking of the right sail change in order to reach maximum speed. Our boat handling and tack change was good but we need to practice all types of spinnaker peels. With the transition between inshore and offshore as apparent as ever, we realised that looking after ourselves is vital with the emphasis on resting whenever possible and eating and drinking enough all the time. Members of the RYA Volvo Keelboat Programme, who sail aboard ‘John Merricks’ would like to thank everyone who support them, the Programme and most importantly the Boat which has been kindly loaned to them by the John Merricks Sailing trust.

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