Read YW's Jonathon Medways' account of the race, which didn't go exactly to plan
As I start to write this I am back on dry land, unfortunately it is only 12 o’clock midday, which as I’m sure you can guess, means the day didn’t go entirely to plan. The Round the Island race started at 0600 in the morning, with our start, the third of the day, due to set off twenty minutes later.
As we dialed up for the line, calls came over the VHF that there was a large object floating in the water somewhere around the starting area, which we found later had been the undoing of at least one yacht- this was just a taste of things to come. Racing ‘Mad Dog’, a mini 6.5, skippered by Jake Jefferis, we started with the wind having built to a steady 25 knots.
Conditions became more challenging as we began beating up towards the needles – anybody already acquainted with minis will know, upwind is not the boats forte, and despite the canting keel we were over pressed with the breeze now hitting highs of around 35 knots, necessitating a reef in both mainsail and jib.
A couple of hours in to the race and disaster struck, a fair sized tear in the jib appeared as we tacked on to starboard, which came as a surprise as this heavy jib, although old, had previously seemed practically bomb proof. Race over! Unwilling to break anything further, Jake decided Mad Dog, which is still in the testing phase and only just starting to be put through her paces, had seen enough, so we turned heel and ran (pretty quickly I might add) back home.
Approaching the Medina River, escorted by a sizeable chunk of the fleet who had, along with us, concluded that discretion was the better part of valour, we saw the carnage that the race had bestowed upon a fair amount of its competitors. Gypsy Moth IV had lost her mizzenmast due to a collision near the start line, there were reports of a capsized catamaran surrounded by safety boats warning others to stay away, and even Ellen MacArthur had retired, albeit due to seasick crew rather than gear failure.
Boats limped in from all directions and at the time of writing this, 261 yachts in total had retired. The Multi50 Prince de Bretagne made it round the island first and for some the run down the back of the island will have been a blast, sadly we wouldn’t get to experience that feeling this year as the ever unpredictable round the island course had once again proved that no matter how many times you go round, it’s never the same ride twice.