19 July 2020
Jacana is a 20 year old J105, racing out of the Royal Southern Yacht Club. We bought her in February 2020 and launched her in May, following some refurbishment. Having not exactly clothed ourselves in glory last weekend on our first JOG outing (pesky windholes) we were determined to do better this time.
The forecast for the day indicated that there would be a decent breeze for the duration, starting from the West and backing SW during the day. Our pre-race prep included winding our rig on a bit from “base” setting to the 16 – 20 knot setting, but we were still surprised by the amount of wind at the start line, definitely breezier than we anticipated.
We started at the deep water end of the line, in the strong west going tide. With a minute to go it looked like there would be plenty room there, but as we got closer to the start time unsurprisingly it got quite busy! There was a danger of us being pushed past the line, not because our fellow competitors below were pushing us up, but simply because the tide was so strong. We sneaked in with not a lot of room to spare and immediately tacked onto port out into the deeper water.
The beat down the Solent was reasonably uneventful and we were just getting used to sailing the boat upwind in a heavy breeze, without much weight on the rail. We stayed pretty much in the deep water navigation channel all the way down to Hurst, rather than favouring mainland or Island side and gradually made up ground on those in front. As we approached Hurst we experienced some small overfalls which were an indication of bigger things to come!
Once through Hurst we tried to hug the southern edge of the Shingles bank, until we were past the Needles lighthouse. Here the overfalls were quite something, halving boat speed at times and ensuring that everyone on board got a thorough soaking. Luckily both air and water temperature were warm.
We over-stood the Fairway buoy slightly, easy to do when trying to judge the lay-line with that tide and water state and rounded with we think, with about 16 boats ahead of us. We settled onto a white sail reach, slightly higher than the rhumb line to the North Head mark and after about 10 mins decided to hoist our smaller, heavier wind spinnaker, on starboard gybe. Once up, we enjoyed some pretty exhilarating sailing downwind hitting a top speed of around 19 knots and making up good ground on the leading pack. Deciding not to gybe on that leg, we flew the kite until we were about ½ mile west of North Head when we the dropped it and gybed under white sail to pass the mark and continue into the Hurst narrows.
Once through Hurst and into the Solent, we gybed onto port and hoisted our larger “AP” spinnaker and chose to favour the mainland side of the channel, in shallower water and out of the worst of the still west going tide. We could see boats much further inshore and also boats behind us deeper in the main channel so it was balancing act between good angles and watching for the change in tide. Eventually, we decided it was time to cross over to the other side, as our boat speed and SOG numbers started to match.
All was going so well until about 1.5 miles to go to the finish we had an issue with our AP snagging on something up the rig which ripped the head off and continued, to our dismay, to unzip the tape on both sides! We dropped it straight away, obviously, and did the final part of that leg under jib and main only.
All in all, a great day out on the water, our second JOG outing and we learnt a lot about Jacana and how she handles in those conditions. We hope everyone else enjoyed themselves too. Now, where’s that spinnaker tape…