Rain and misery for our Fastrack student in Cowes yesterday

Day 38 – Cowes Week Day 3

Our best start of the week, we got away from the line in a perfect position with little tide. The first mark was a long way up the Solent and in the strong tide and light conditions, most boats short tacked up the north shore. At times we had 0.1 metres below the keel. A few boats misjudged the depths and at least three ran aground. It was exhausting and quite demoralising at times when slow or clumsy tacks stalled the boat or caused us to drift backwards. Class five were all close together and there were quite a few shouts of ‘Starboard!’

The big call was when to cross the Solent to round the mark on the south shore. We overstood slightly and lost a few positions to boats who had crossed earlier, but our sister ship,Foreign Affair, left it even and lost quite a lot of time. The downwind leg was a great relief. After a great hoist we set our sights on catching the rest of the fleet. The little wind was intermittent and changeable making it difficult to stay on course. In addition, the sun disappeared and immense cloud cover soon brought cold and wet conditions. Yesterday we were sunning ourselves in shorts and t-shirts and today freezing in wet foulies!

At times the Solent resembled a mill pond with boats drifting in no breeze at all, and we wished the committee would shorten the course. Morale really suffered as we got wetter and colder while making little progress. It was hard to remain focused and at times we all lost concentration and enthusiasm. The last mark was interesting with boats stalled at the buoy and lots of shouting going on as we coasted in to this floating car park. As we rounded the mark we lost steerage in the dirty air and strong tides. The last half a mile was incredibly frustrating. At times we thought we wouldn’t make it against the strengthening tide. We finally crossed after five hours 15 minutes, absolutely shattered, but our spirits lifted when we learnt we’d beatenForeign Affairby 19 minutes.