First problem was Chichester Marina lock was due to be overhauled untill late on Friday on the 15th and could not be promised to be available for the16th. So Andy Chatterton kindly spent a Saturday with me moving Ronhilda around to Port Solent earlier in the month. Actually it was a very pleasant trip in the sun with few other yachts or motorboats to be seen.
This created a second problem of having cars in one place and at the end of the weekend the yacht ending up elsewhere, ie back at Chichester. This was also complicated by the fact neither I or some of my crew could be on the water on Sunday, as it was one stalwart did not finish his work till early Saturday am, he drove down from London overnight and had to be back in London for Sunday am. We solved this problem returning Ronhilda to Chichester on the Sturday by leaving a car in Chichester and then filling it up to its maximium including the rear luggage space with crew to go back top Port Solent in the evening.
So what of the Saturday itself? Winds had been forecast to be very light by Dr Simon Keeling's websites for over a week and this turned out to be what happened on the water. With a start at Browndown, about 6mph of true mainly south east wind at least the first FC would be downtide towards its finish at South Winner cardinal. Ronhilda had a gentle sail with all main and the large 25 year old geny employed. The course had been set across the main shipping channel on several legs so it was no surprise estimating approaching shipping became an issue when drifting across the channel at slow speed with large leeway due to the tide. Rounding the fort the easterly flood tide started to slacken which took a little off the SE wind and meant tacking down to the last windward mark at St Helens took a long long time with the surface of the water becoming mirrorlike. At last the final downwind leg back across to the Cambrian Wreck was started and we goose winged nicely back towards this mark which was the sortened course final long cruise mark. The much lighter and more modern larger boats had finished a lot earlier than Ronhilda and we heard on the radio that the start of the second race was to be some 30 minutes before we possibly get there. After advising Criuse Control of this the start was kindly delayed by some 30 mins to 1500hrs. Wind seemed to pick up sailing down to South Winner Cardinal for the start and Ronhilda got up to 6knots + which promised better things for the next criuse.
Indeed the first leg of the second FC. was a beat south to windward but with an apparent wind of 12knots Ronhilda was having the best sail of the day and kept up with the others. Rounding this mark we then headed past the Cement wreck Cardinals to the eastern most mark. The wreck was kicking up lots of sand and mud in the water in the ebb tide and I was reminded of the night this ship rolled over anchored during a gale in St Helen's Road and the tides had sent the hulk on the bottom to rest on the north side of the deep water chaneel where she still lies, most of not all the crew were lost.
With the light wind on the beam and full ebb, Ronhilda's SOG dropped to less than 2knots and we took a long time to round the mark before starting to return downwind to South Winner. The wind had dropped off a little as well late in the afternoon and progress became painfully slow. Staying on till the finish would have meant carrying on till dusk so we radioed in to terminate Ronhilda's interest in this FC and return to Chichester. As we motored towards the bar others could be held calling it quits. Our move was vindicated as we did not lock in at Chichester until after 6pm by which time it was getting quite chilly and we had had all had 12 hour days by then.
I must say I do not think having two races this year has worked for us, one of things all Ronhilda's crew have enjoyed over the years was the social met and greet afterwards before going to the evening venue and the two cruise format seems to have cut the time this socialable activity down. When Lynn Griffiths first started the FC's this was the main draw for me, if I had wanted to go racing persay then I would have joined my local club winter races or bought new sails and joined the Hamble crowd. This year also having spent over £100 in fuel motoring for hours to get to the starts in the solent followed by cold long days on the water it is not as enjoyable as it used to be.