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Photo: George Mills Photography

Glorious day on the water

Author: Island Sailing Club   Date: 12:50 Saturday 7 Jul 2018

There may be little wind on the racecourse for the 1,200 or so teams contesting Island Sailing Club’s annual 50nm race around the Isle of Wight but there is certainly no shortage of competitive spirit.

Racing is close throughout the fleet apart from Tony Lawson’s record-breaking five-year-old MOD70 foiling trimaran Concise Fling that broke away from the pack at the Needles, rounded St Catherine’s Point, and is now tracking along up the east coast towards Bembridge, alone. Even in just 10kts of wind, this crazy machine can reach 35kts of boat speed, so whatever the weather there are generally always plenty of thrills to be had aboard this boat.

The bulk of the fleet, however, is enjoying a tactical game of cat and mouse down the west coast of the Island. Jennifer Burgis and the all-girl team who raced the 2015/16 Clipper Round the World Race are today sailing Fleur de Lis –  a chartered Beneteau Oceanis 37 – and currently sailing an impressive race. Importantly, they have managed to reach the Needles before the tide turns. Burgis commented from the racecourse:

“Despite the lack of wind we are extremely pleased with our progress. It took us just two hours to get to the Needles. We had a great start with Holly [Kitching] on the helm and Caroline Bowen on tactics, which was key and, we are looking forward to continuing to work hard and gain more places as we head down the west coast.

“We are really pleased because we seem to have caught up with the Turquoise flagged group that started 10 minutes ahead of us. I think we can put our impressive speed down to Caroline Bowen our tactician who is calling some really good shots in these tricky conditions.”

Although the sea breeze should fill in shortly, it is generally slow going.  Half the fleet is already round the Needles but the race is on now for those struggling to reach the Needles before the tide turns at 1130.

Even if the cloud builds on land and sea breeze does develop, it is unlikely to be significant. Around the top of the Island from Bembridge Ledge to Ryde – the lee of the island – will be one of the biggest areas of concern and a lot of places are likely to be won and lost there.

To follow the race in detail, go to Race Coverage Live and the Race Tracker.