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Closing the gap

With a weather warning issuedby the met office on Friday predicting high winds set to hit the south coast of England, the course for our second inter-squad Figaro race was changed with just five hours to go before the start. The planned course was set to start from Cowes at 14:30 and take us around the Isle of Wight anticlockwise, but this was changed to the route below due to the strong winds and rough sea state expected on the south side of the island.

Start : Prince Consort

Needles fair way to port

Peel bank to port

Hamble Yacht Services to starboard

Cambrian Work to port (position in the east of the Solent past Horsesand fort)

Darling Associates to port

Finish:Prince Consort

I sailed Artemis 21 with Sam Matson. Having prepped the boat the night before,the morning of the racesaw us making a new race plan based on the amended course before hitting the water for a 14.30 start.

With the wind blowing 18-22 knots from the south west, we opted for the genoa on the start line, while the rest of the squad opted to sail under the solent. Unfortunately the wind increased slightly as we sailed up the Solent to 24-27 knots, forcing us to make a head sail change to the solent. Our Solent isn’t such a great sail and we slowly slipped back in the fleet. In an attempt to gain some of the lost miles, we decided to try to split from the fleet, but this resulted in us losing more distance on the leaders.

Once around the first mark Sam and I had a cracking hoist set. We sailed really well downwind, playing the compromise between going inshore for the shallows and coming away from the shore to find breeze. We finally over took 37 just off Cowes and snapping were snapping at the boys on 43’s heels by mark two. The heading to the next mark allowed us to re-hoist the big spinnaker upon rounding the mark, then managing to sail right under Will and Alex on 43 and get inside them at the third mark.

The rest of the race was prettystraight-line work, sailing the shortest distance been the key. We sailed fast on these legs, as by now the wind had moderated and we were under genoa, which was alot nicer then the Solent we had used at the start…. it had a leach line!

There was a bit of excitement at Cambrian Work becausethe cardinal lights were not working! We found it first time (about 200m from it), but the boys behind had not clocked the mark and were sailing high to a light in the distance! By this point we were chasing down the leaders Tom and Rich on Artemis 77, but but it was not to be. In the end we closed to half a mile between them and us by the finish, finishingin second.

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