RORC St. Malo Race

IMG_0341Sailing with an all girl team is all about planning and strategy. Girls are not as strong as the guys so we, the girls, need to think very carefully before we do anything.

The RORC Cowes to St Malo race this weekend was a very tactical race. Even if it was a mostly straight line race we had to think about tides and sail changes. These were key to a successful race.

Off the start line Concise 2 was fast and sailing with the leading Class 40’s all the way out of the Needles channel and across the English Channel. Once we reached the Channel Islands the tide and boat speed game begun. Having not grown up in a tidal area I have spent the last 5 years learning about the tide. This race was caught me once or twice off the Channel Islands but I have now learnt that I cannot spend too much time on the helm and not looking at the computer or the tide charts.

Most of the race we were in third position. I took the helm in the dark South of Guernsey it back fired on the Team as we were not heading towards the Minquiers which is a group of rocks North of St Malo. The Minquiers rocks where a mark of the course. I took my eyes off our track and took the helm in the dark and lost focus on our track and competitors. Then we could not lay the two cardinals and had to do a sail change or two to get around the cardinals. Unfortunately this cost us 3 places. We might have been in for a podium position but sometimes you learn the hard way.

The girls all sailed very well. Tony Lawson and Team Concise has built up a strong group of girls filled with all sorts of talent. We are now learning to use the talent that we have. The vibe and communication between the girls on board fantastic as we all settle into our positions on board.

 Full Race Report below:

IMG_0348On board Concise 2 we had our gennaker set up for the start. With 20 mins to go we were practising speed/distance to the line as we had the tide with us so we didn’t want to be over. At 10 minutes to the start we decided the cross over to our A2 was marginal and that we favoured the A2 at wind angle135 so we quickly peeled to this. Our spinnaker paid off well for us although it was tight at times. We had to drop slightly early just before the needles and change to our solent. We are pleased with our performance out of the Solent and worked the shifts hard passing the needles just behind concise 8.

It’s been a competitive race since the start line.  We had to drop A2 just before reaching the needles and hoist the Solent as the wind angle became too tight. Once we were out into the English Channel we peeled to our gennaker which gave us massive gains on the front runners and our team mates Concise 8. The wind then kept going easterly so this allowed us to change to our HedKandi pink A2 spinnaker. We have continued to sit in 3rd place trimming, driving and stacking (moving all the weight and filling/dumping ballast tanks) working Concise 2 hard to maximise every gain.

With the Channel Islands now in sight we have our A2 up in 11kts wind and all is to play for in the tides and lightening pressure.

Some trying and testing conditions off of the Channel Islands. Tide has been in our favour luckily helping to push us round but as the wind is dropping it is becoming incredibly challenging. We saw some wind on the horizon and sailed out to this but our wind angle caused us to be 90 degrees to where we wanted to go! So this forced us back and the tide hasn’t allowed us to create enough apparent to hold our A2 without it sagging. So as the wind and apparent dropped off we have hoisted our gennaker. We are getting great practise peeling sails though! 🙂

We are all in good spirits, and managed to have some yummy curry for dinner in between all our constant trimming, gybing, tweaking and sail changes. It is just getting dark out here so we are getting prepared for the night and ready for more sail changes!! We are hoping the wind will fill in around midnight.

The Channel Islands produced some challenging conditions as predicted between sunset and midnight as we waited for the wind to shift to the NW. The fleet compressed as the boats in front slowed down and the ones behind started catching up. As the wind started picking up we peeled to our pink HedKandi A2 and we just managed to hold onto 3rd position as we exited our turning mark to the SW of Guernsey.

We battled hard with 40 Shades of Grey, Crenou Moustache and several other class 40s in this new breeze. The wind kept increasing and topped out at 22kts. We were flying and making good progress but unfortunately the angle was too tight to get around the reef at the Minquiers so we had to drop this spinnaker and use the Solent to clear the cardinal marker. As Annabel and Sammie dropped the spinnaker it was noticed that the chafe cover of the mast head halyard was worn through and was not reusable. This meant after clearing the cardinal we had to use our A5 spinnaker on the fractional kite halyard. With superb team work we changed to this spinnaker and hoisted our staysail. We were sailing fast in the strong wind towards the finish line, but unfortunately with this smaller kite we got rolled just off the finish line by a couple of class 40s after having fending them off all night.

IMG_3237It was a superb race non-the less and the team worked exceptionally well together. Communication was great, with the whole crew really supporting each other for every manoeuvre. This made every change efficient and successful. We are really settling into our roles on the boat with Joy running the crew from the cockpit communicating Phillippa’s navigation and sail change decisions, Amy trimming with Annabel and Sammie on the bow. Every crew member takes turns at driving and trimming so that we keep fresh pushing the boat hard. We’ve noticed significant improvement as a team and are really happy with our performance from this race.

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