How Solent breezes can turn racing fleets inside out

‘So the last shall be first, and the first last’.

It was an inside-out day at Skandia Cowes Week yesterday. I was racing with Ben Few Brown and Toby Parker on Seaview Mermaid Zara, one of 12 club boats owned and raced by members of Seaview Yacht Club on the Isle of Wight.

Our bizarre race in a nutshell: we took a flier out to our first mark. Before we got there the gradient wind ceded to a south-westerly sea breeze. When it did, the shift put us right down to leeward and dispatched us to the back of the fleet.

Less than an hour later, the sea breeze faded and the northerly gradually trickled back. Purely by virtue of being at the back of the fleet and therefore one of the most northerly boats, we were catapulted to the front, with one beat to go.

We also ended up sailing the entire five-leg course either hard on the wind or footing.

That’s Solent sailing for you.