Longest RtIR ever….

June 29th 2019, a date set for one of the most spectacular sailing events on the Solent: Round the Island Race. The idea is simple, you get on a yacht en after starting go counterclockwise around the Isle of Wight and finish where you started. The weather briefing the day before promised us light winds and a new weather system trading the easterly winds for a westward one. 1210 yachts entered, crowding the Solent. Little did we know only 283 would finish..

Solent downwind start RtIR 2019

Laura, Harry, Leen, Dirk-Jan, Joost D, Lennard, Floris, Boj and Joost H sailed Winsome over the starting line at 8.20 local time. Light winds from the forecasted east gave us a spinnaker start with the current pushing us towards the needles. As predicted by Harry and Boj the tide turned faster than expected at the island side at the start, making our choice for a deepwater start in the middle of the Solent a wise one, in contrast to most other yachts who started at the island side.

RtIR 2019

The light winds a strong current sailed us past a couple of park ups and past Hurst Castle. Here the wind decided to turn off completely, leaving us in a vacume and just the tide pushing us towards the needles.

RtIR 2019

Thanks to Laura’s driving skills, navigational expertise of Harry, some boat handling and Neptune favouring us today we drifted between the lighthouse as seen on the picture and the submerged Varvassi boiler/wreck. On our right hand side we could clearly identify the submerged boiler as numerous yacht floated against it.

No wind at the Needles RtIR 2019

We didn’t have a lot of time to feel happy as getting away from the lighthouse was challenging. With no wind and disturbed water Winsome floated slowly towards the rocks. I doubt many of us have been this close to the lighthouse before on a sailingyacht.

Needles lighthouse RtIR 2019

We had to start the engine to be able to avoid a collision with the rocks, we turned Winsome away form the rocks and into deeper water, with no gain for the race but mere safety reasons we turned off the engine as soon as possible after 40 seconds, flew the yellow flag and carried on sailing.

Tracker rounding the Needles (RtIR 2019)
Too close for comfort RtIR 2019

The more we tacked away from the Needles the more the wind picked up and 10 minutes later we were tacking tot St Catherines in 16 knots of breeze.. Champagne sailing.

Passing Ventnor there was hardly any wind in Sandown Bay, tacking out and sailing around it was basically the only option. It took ages to reach Bembridge, often seeing less than 1 knot of boat speed on the dials, frustrating as local wind patches favoured some at times and being 50 meters apart could be the difference of having wind or no wind at all! In the mean time the genoa was taken down and traded again for the spinnaker, giving us a slow but steady kite ride towards the forts. At this time many yachts were taking down their sails and turning on the engine, traffic to Gosport or the Southampton Water was getting busier and busier compared to the yachts still heading to the finish…

During this kite ride and happy faces on deck, we learned that on the Bramble the new weathersystem had arrived: 16 knots from the West, and we were still on a kite ride going West on the Solent… negotiating the last windhole of the day we took down the spinnaker and put up the genoa for the last beat to the finish. At 21.15h we crossed the finish. After nearly 13 hours of sailing we finished the RtIR, probably the longest we’ve ever taken to circumnavigate this island.

Bernard Shepers and his crew were so kind to accompany us at dinner, we were supposed to dine together that evening, however arrangements fort dinner were made with another weather scenario than this one. That said, they were so kind to wait for us and after berthing Winsome and Harry making his way to the race committee we joined each other at the dinner table. The racing rules were clear as was the committee, Winsome retired form the race and therefor the results. Big boys (and girls) don’t cry, we learned our lessons and will continue to race another day.

It was a challenging and wonderful day on te water, another great weekend with Harry, Winsome and her crew. Thanks to all the competitors on the water, the Island Sailing Club for the organisation and congratulations to Eeyore and her crew for winning the IRC overall.

Special thanks to Freddy, who flew us together with Harry from Budel to Bembridge on Friday and back on Sunday. Good to have you with us this weekend!

Leaving Bembrigde RtIR 2019

Despite being one of the 851 retired yachts, this was hands down one of the best weekends of the year, thank you Harry for putting up with us. We are honoured and privileged to sail with you, always.