RORC Cervantes Trophy 2016

May 1, 2016

On board:

Harry Heijst, Wouter Verbraak, Leen Hoogmoed, Boj Mirck, Floris Oud, Joost Heikens, Herman Lammerts van Bueren and Robin Claushaus.


For the third year in a row, Wouter Verbraak was able to join WINSOME for the first off-shore race of the season. Harry and I studied Peter Isler’s North U. Expedition Webinars, to learn more about the ‘most powerfull piece of tactical navigation software’, so we could have Wouter help us to sort out our problems.

From five days in advance Wouter was sending us GRIB file data, so we could get a feeling about the expected weather.

Floris, Robin, Harry and Leen prepared WINSOME and she was moored at the RYS. Floris, Wouter and LUNA picked Joost, Herman and myself up at Hamble point Marina, so were as early as possible in WINSOME’s cottage.

It was only at 18:00 BST that the RORC announced the course.

Course; RYS start tot the East, ¾ round the Isle of Wight clockwise to Needles Fairway Buoy and the to Le Havre (133NM)

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We discussed the watches and Wouter talked us through all the different scenarios weather-wise. In general; light NW winds 5-10 knots at the start, possibly building to 15 kts in the afternoon and at night dropping, maybe dying completely.


At race day, we all had breakfast at WINSOME’s cottage. We set sail at 8:30 as we wanted to check local winds at the Medina entry, the North shore and around Castle Point. We made a practice start with Spi I and Ruby. By sailing close to the Isle of Wight we felt that we had the best Apparent Wind Angle. As there was sufficient pressure, we felt that this would be a sound starting strategy.


Unfortunately, 10 mins before the start, the wind dropped from 10 to 4 knots. Our observation was that there was more pressure on the Northern end of the line, so we motored out to the North and had a perfect start at the perfect position. I noticed that were second over the line, but the French boat which appeared to have a better start, was called OCS and had to turn around.

Start – No Man’s Land Fort

A tricky and challenging kite ride. We were looking for pressure all the time. With winds varying from 4 to 8 knots, pressure was king. The toughest part was finding wind and staying away from the big windshadows created by the overtaking bigger boats.

No Man’s Land Fort – Bembridge Ledge Buoy

A close reach with Spi I. now 10-12 knots. By luffing hard after No Man’s Land Fort, we made sure that the overtaking boats, could not take our wind. Once we got to Bembridge the wind died again, and we had to make two gybes to get to this mark. Leen gave us a great rounding as he steered us around leaving maximum 30 centimeters between WINSOME and this colossal Bouy.

Bembridge Ledge Buoy – West Princessa

The Wind varied between 8 and 18 knots. It was a fetch, but just.

West Princessa – St. Catherine’s

The new breeze was up and down all the time, but was in general building. Therefore we changed the Genoa I light for the Genoa I M-H. The last bit of this leg was a lot of tacking close to the shore, as the strong East going tide was much less closer to the shore. Harry was at his battle station, talking us in as close as possible. As the wind was building up to 20 knots, again we changed the headsail; Genoa I M-H for Genoa II.

 Rouding St. Catherine’s

As we approached St. Catherine’s lighthouse, we noticed that some boats in front of us put a reef in and were struggling with overpowered sails. We felt that we could handle it, but once we rounded the cape at St. Catherine’s we noticed a terrible cloud, with rain a lots of wind. As we were expecting up to 30 knots, we decided to change for the Genoa III. We started to prepare the Genoa III and as the wind was building we also put a reef in the main.

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All of a sudden, things went from bad to worse. As the Genoa III was more or less hoisted, Genoa II was on the deck. The top of Genoa II was blown over the side, and the rest of the Genoa followed quickly. I left my comfy pit station to help retrieve the Genoa II. While we were getting the Genoa II back on deck, the Genoa III was winched in. The crew in the cockpit was not aware of the fact that the Genoa III was still sailed on the ‘inline change tack-line’. As this construction is not perfect (yet), the Genoa III was torn out of the tuffluff, breaking the tuffluff and resulting in a small tear in the Genoa III. This was all survivable, however the flapping Genoa III hit the main at one third from the top, resulting in the main to split from luff to leech.

As it is impossible to sail with no mainsail, we took all the sails down. As it was still blowing around 30 its, is was a job to flake them all and store all the sheets and halyards. We motored all the way to Cowes, dropping Wouter off at Yarmouth.


Once we were back at the RYS, we took our stuff from the boat and had a beer and a D&S at the Pier View for a quick debrief.

Today we took the sails to Gerry and LUNA and WINSOME to Berthon. At Berthon we had a rendezvous with Wouter and had diner and a beer. A nice time to reflect on our first attempt at an off-shore race in 2016.


Off course bad things can happen to everybody, but we all felt that with such an experienced crew and a boat as solid as WINSOME, we should have been able to survive 32kts of breeze.

To summarize;

We were aware that big winds were coming up, but were not fully prepared yet.

Mainly there were three problems; 1 hardware, 2 communication wise and 3 decision making.

Hardware; the tuffluff feeding system, the attachment for the tack of the Genoas and inline Genoa peel system needs improvement.

Communications; as I went foreword to help out and Leen had just handed over the helm to Wouter, the normal flow of communication was disturbed, resulting in no communication between trimmers and foredeck. For the future, changing positions at critical moments, should be avoided. At all times should the experienced WINSOME sailor stay in the hatch to relay between foredeck and helm. As Wouter learned us that only ‘Admirals and asholes stay in the hatch’, I feel most adequate for this job.

Decision making; In the past we’ve decided to avoid inline changing the Genoa’s. A tack-change, was not a real option as the Isle of Wight was close, the was only room for a short port tack. For now we’ve decided to avoid inline changing Genoas. If we really have to, we might still do it for the Genoa I light, Genoa I M-H and Genoa II, but we will not change to the Genoa III inline anmore, so either tack-change or bold headed. (G II down and then G III up).


On the downside, we’ve made some serious damage and were unable to finish the Cervantes 2016. On the positive side, we’ve learned a lot and we had a great weekend with a fantastic team.




Post by Boj | May 1, 2016 |

1 Comment

  1. Sorry to hear about the race. Glad to hear that you are all safe and sound and that we have learnt alot for the rest of the season!

    by Laura Dillon | 02 May 2016 | 00:39