Cowes Week – Day 1 – Sunny Snakes and Ladders Saturday

August 6, 2018

Saturday 4thAugust was the 1stday of Lendy Cowes Week 2018. Following our class win and 3rdoverall in the Black Group in Cows Week 2017, expectations by the Winsome crew are high for 2018! As per Herman’s blogs, we had 2 great days of training prior to Cowes Week and the Winsome crew was very excited for our first full day of racing.

This year the Cowes Week crew is identical to last year’s Cowes Week crew – Harry (skipper and navigator), Leen (mainsheet), Boj (pitt and tactics), Joost D (starboard jib trim and spinny sheet trim), Dirk-Jan (port jib trim and spinny guy), Herman (wind calls and grinding the jib & spinny), Joost N (mast and grinding the jib & spinny), Floris (bow) and Laura (helm and Irish representative on Winsome!).

We started on the Bramble line in about 7 knots of wind and headed towards the Western Solent on a long spinnaker run to Salt Mead mark. The start was exciting with lots of boats fighting for position and eager to get a good start in the 1strace. We started near the Northern end of the start line, at the committee boat and hoisted our spinnaker just before the start. We flew the big “Dantuma” spinnaker and enjoyed a nice long leg run towards the Western Solent. Unfortunately the wind began to decline and this was the story of the whole race! We rounded the first mark near the southern side of the Solent (the Isle of Wight side) and we then fetched / beat to the northern side of the Solent (the mainland side) and tacked around the next mark, where we hoisted the spinnaker and reached back across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight again – this was a nice leg and we then repeated the activity again, rounded another mark and headed back towards the northern shore again, towards the mainland. After we reached the mainland shore and rounded the Sevenstar Yacht Transport mark, this is where things began to go wrong! We hoisted a spinnaker and raced towards the next mark. Unfortunately the wind continued to reduce and after a while reached 0 knots. There was absolutely no wind and we were in the middle of the Solent, with 2.5 knots of tide against us. After a period of us having no boat speed and no wind, but 2.5 knows of tide against us, we finally decided to take the anchor out and anchor during the race! Yes, drastic measures for drastic time! At this point we had already drifted 0.8 knots of wind backwards.

Two of the boats in our class managed to stay very close to the Northern Shore and they had the most consistent wind and managed to keep the wind most of the time. Congratulations to “Alpha Crucis” who won the race, which is a very beautiful 5.5 metre, that is over from Australia. Harry said the 5.5 metre looks very similar to the beautiful Finnish boat, Piksborg. Also, congratulations to the Greenhalgh’s on J’ronimo who finished 2ndand were almost 1 hour and 30 mins ahead of the next boat to finish.

After a while, we saw a small amount of wind near the mainland, Northern shore, so we lifted our anchor and began to try and sail / drift towards the wind, which we eventually made it to after many self-tacks (the boat automatically tacking due to very large and quick wind-shifts) some spinnaker hoists and drops and some frustrating sailing! We then got the wind, hoisted the kite and sailed parallel to the shore. We were due to round West Lepe but in order to try and get around the mark, we sailed almost 0.4 miles past the West Lepe mark. We did this to stay in the wind near the shore as we knew when we sailed out into the centre of the Solent, we would lose the wind again and the tide would push us back down the Solent and we needed to ensure not to get pushed the wrong side of the mark!

We had a very long spinnaker run in 0 to 5 knots of wind back to the Squadron, finish line, including rounding 1 more mark on the way down. The wind was light and the tide began to turn, so when we reached the Squadron, the tide was then against us again, now in the other direction but was very strongly pushing us backwards again. So we stayed in very close to the beach (we even had some swimmers from the beach talking to us and trying to reach out to touch the boat!) and gradually managed to sail forwards. When we were approximately 100 metres from the RYS finish line, the sea breeze filled in from the West and all the boats form behind us came with the wind and caught up with us. Almost 40 boats finished within 1 minute of each other, as everyone now had wind and finished together!


The race took us almost 6 hours to complete, which is almost double the length of a normal Cowes Week race! So we were all tired and sun burnt when we arrived back to East Cowes. We were happy to have a lovely dinner in the house cooked by Floris and Joost N and we had a crew debrief, about learnings we can take from the day’s racing and how we can improve for the rest of the week. Harry, Sophie, DJ and Aster enjoyed a nice evening at the RYS ball. The day’s learnings included:

  1. Removing the tack to tack different on the true wind speed instruments, to improve our laylines
  2. The wind sheer and adjusting out sail trim accordingly and sailing with more twist
  3. Looking continually around at the wind and using the weather navigation buoys in the Solent to see if we can learn more about what is happening with the wind in different areas of the Solent
  4. Stay positive – it is a long week and every race may count

I really liked that we continued to push hard the whole way around the course and stayed positive despite challenging circumstances and conditions. We will live to fight another day and hopefully tomorrow will be better! And on the positive, we got lots of practice of hoisting and dropping the spinnaker today, as the wind was so shifty and moved around so much!

Thanks and good luck everyone for the rest of the week


Post by Boj | August 6, 2018 |