With the winter fast cruises, you know what you are getting yourself into. Wind (lots), rain (some), with perhaps a little sleet or snow and the occasional patch of ice on deck. A timed passage in mid-June is completely different, of course. Or it should be.
But this is an English summer, so Shearwater headed to the start in a wind forecast to be south west force 5-7. Familiar conditions, then. Fortunately, the rain held off until Saturday evening and the journey back from the pub, but the sailing was dominated by south-west winds which frequently topped 30 knots apparent. A couple of boats familiar from the winter were present: Chris Overall's Oxygen and Richard Strong's Solid Air along with Amber One and Sour Kraut who were new to us.
The cruise started by No Man's Land Fort, close to Ryde, but the generous start window meant we saw nobody we recognised. Without the obvious presence of competitors, the adrenalin wasn't quite the same this time, but we deployed the traditional ginger biscuits to stave off wave generated nausea just in case. Bearing in mind we had the organiser, Michael Forbes Smith on board, it seemed polite that we arrive reasonably early to dispense snacks and alcohol at the finish, so Shearwater crossed the line shortly after the tide turned with two reefs and a a couple of rolls in the jib.
The first leg was a long fetch on port tack to Calshot north cardinal mark with the seas gradually getting steeper as the tide began to build. We gave Calshot a wide berth and tacked for Gurnard NCM, the next mark, only to discover that the tide was not quite strong enough to carry us conve