In early June, Lulu Wallis (Bow), Meli Besse (Trim), Penny Weiser (Helm) and Alison Hinds (Main Trim), competed in WOKC 2016 hosted by the Hamble River Sailing Club. The team competed in a J/80 called Swallow owned by the Royal Southern Yacht Club Academy.
The weekend started with welcome drinks at the club where Abby Ehler gave an inspiring presentation on her experiences of The Volvo Ocean Race 2015 as part of Team SCA. We were extremely lucky to have Abby come on board with us on Saturday for a day of coaching, which was incredibly helpful and gave us a confidence boost for Sunday.
We arrived at the boat in good time on Saturday morning to get an hour of practice in before racing, but predictably our outboard was playing up and so with only 30 minutes to go, we set off out of Hamble river to the start area near Jonathan Janeson.
The race started with a shifty northerly around 6 knots and a strengthening west going tide. The course was a clockwise windward leeward with a short spreader leg. We made it round the first lap with no trouble, but as we rounded the spreader mark for the second time the breeze began to drop off. Half way down the run to the finish we were becalmed and left fighting the tide with our drooping kite. J’ronimo (J/92) had crossed the line just before the wind died and so with the clock ticking, we sat silent and prayed for a last minute puff but unfortunately, the time limit was called. The race committee, seeing that only 1 of 8 boats had finished made a sensible suggestion to use the times taken at the first mark to place everyone. A couple of boats called for redress and later that evening, after a protest hearing involving all the class 2 yachts, a decision was made to score everyone OTL with 5.5 points.
We drifted around the start area interrogating Abby about The Volvo Ocean Race while we waited for some wind.
Once the breeze began to fill in the second race was started, inevitably it died again, this time at the top mark. The whole fleet compressed and the Class 1 boats came roaring in from behind. As the breeze came back Meli got the kite flying first allowing us to fly past most of the fleet, to finish in 3rd, only 1s behind Two Frank in 2nd.
For the third and last race of the day, the wind came up to around 10 knots from the SW. We flew around the track, finishing in 4th, again only seconds in it.
Grins all round, we set off to get ready for the ‘frocks and flip-flops party’ on Saturday evening, unfortunately Abby couldn’t join us as she had to catch a flight to Chicago and see her mate Ben. Hamble River Sailing Club put on a great hog roast and the Dark ‘nd Stormies were flowing. Then came the most exciting part of the regatta; the raffle (all proceeds donated to beating breast cancer). The room was decorated with Spinlock deck vests, winch handles, tablets and many more generous donations, however, green 72 was not a winning ticket. So, full of food and booze we wandered back to Hotel Jimbo, Jon and Ed. I highly recommend it, they have a colossal rum collection and they’re fantastic hosts (thanks again boys!) 5 stars.
Sunday morning was gorgeous, the sun was shining and there was just a tickle of breeze. We crossed the line with clear air and decided to follow the breeze up the right hand side of the course. We over stood the top mark, so we sailed fast and rounded just after the leaders. Rounding to port we hoisted and jibed early to stay with the breeze. The run to the finish turned into a tight reach as the wind swung to the South, we just managed to hold the kite and we crossed the line in 2nd shortly after Blackjack II (J/97). The wind then died again, leaving the rest of the fleet floating against the tide to the finish. A couple were called OTL.
We had a lovely long lunch in the sun while the committee searched for wind. Luckily a sea breeze filled in and race 5 got underway. The wind was very patchy and so Penny stalked it up track and we rounded the top mark in first. The next lap was frustrating as the wind became lighter and shiftier but another success as we came 2nd, again following Blackjack II.
We were delighted to find out at the prize giving that we were 3rd in class and 3rd overall.
A great weekend, that I would highly commend. Two days of top quality racing and a lot of fun.