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Friday, 4 July 2008

Round The Island Race 2008

YSC Round The Island Race 2008

Participants –Glenis Burgess, John Dore and his daughter Lynn, Gerard Kennedy, Dominic Kennedy, Robert Jordan, Catherine Jordan, Tim Hattersley


This year 8 YSC members crewed a brand new Elan 43 Yacht ‘ Wight Orca’ in the 50 mile, largest yacht race in the world around the Isle of Wight.

Superbly organised by Glenis we set off for a weekend of sailing with the benefit of a hired experienced skipper - Dave Ogden helping make the experience all the more exciting.

After a blustery sail on the Friday to get used to the boat and an excellent meal cooked by Gerard and John we were up at 4.30am and soon on our way to the start line for our 6.40am slot. The winds were light to begin with, but forecast to build to force 4/5 south-westerly for the bulk of the race, which they definitely did.

With nearly 2000 entries expected the sight in the waiting areas was just incredible.

At 6.30am we ‘got in the mix’ as Dave the skipper puts it, and we jostled for a good start which we duly got. We tacked goodness knows how many times on route to the Needles dodging numerous other participants sometimes with just a few feet to spare – tide was with us so we made good progress as the wind began to build.

As we rounded the Needles and headed for St Catherine’s Point the sea state was described in reports afterwards as grim, hairy, wild, lumpy and on the edge – the wind had built to 25 knots and understandably a number of our crew were by now suffering the dreaded sea sickness – in fact there was just 4 of us and the skipper left on deck. Catherine was a star and helmed through much of the wild patch under the watchful eye of Dave. Around us we witnessed many boats broaching, a helicopter winching, life boats towing and rescuing, spinnakers tearing and flying all over the place - wow!

The official toll afterwards was 4 boats dis-masted, 5 damaged and in need of towing, 1 sank, 1 upturned, 11 man over boards, 5 injuries with one needing hospitalisation
(but is fine now), 5 boats ran aground and just under 200 had to retire. But thank goodness not us. In the end we came a formidable 505th with a time of 9 hours 10mins placing us 24th in our group out of 52.

We had a brilliant race and felt a great sense of achievement. After a very pleasant evening and a few well earned drinks we all crashed out in our bunks. On Sunday we had a relaxing sail up Southampton water and were treated to a guided explanation of the history of all the landmarks on route by our exceptionally knowledgeable skipper. A final treat was in store for us though, as Ellen McArthur passed in her own yacht and gave us a wave. Since she had to retire from the race with a broken halyard I suppose we technically beat her – never mind Ellen.

You can visit http://www.roundtheisland.org.uk/ for a full round up of the event but in summary 1875 yachts entered, 1750 started, 1557 finished including us.

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