Round the Island Race 2012 30 Jun 2012
Ben Riley, helm and co-owner of RCOD Corinthia, and his regular crew, have made a habit of entering The Round the Island Race, which they regard as a ‘must-do’ event. They usually charter a boat in Group 1 and aim to finish in the top half. This year they chartered a Prima 38, Bare Knuckles, in Class 1b, pink pennant.
Start times for the Round the Island race are set to take advantage of west going tidal streams to assist the first leg down to The Needles and our start time was a civilised time of 07:30. The predicted weather was W / SW 22kn and rising, good visibility, sunny intervals.
Boats jostling on the start line included Eleonora, looking magnificent and majestic under full sail. First leg was a beat to windward into what was described as “a nasty Solent chop” A rather hasty crash tack to avoid a port and starboard incident at Hurst Narrows caught the crew on the rail napping as the high side became the low side, rail under water with no warning. Two of the foredeck crew dunked with lifejackets auto-inflating on the first leg.
Rounding the Needles proved a breeze, the much talked about standing waves were in benign mood, and we were off on a fast reach toward St Catherine’s point. Wind strength dictated a straight run with no advantage to be gained looking for favourable but weak tidal flows near the shore.
With St Catherine’s to port we could see the leading boats having some fun flying spinnakers in the gusts on the run down to Bembridge. We opted for an asymmetric, hoping for more control without much loss of downwind performance. 15kn plus of boat speed, no broaches, on a thrilling leg to the mark. Our one and only gybe was rather messy with a temporary wrap on the forestay. So many spinnakers out on the water make a fine sight.
Contrary to the forecast, the wind abated for the last leg back into the Solent, avoiding Ryde sands. We managed to pick off another Prima 38 on this leg to finish 12 out of 40 in IRC Division 1B, 27 in Group 1 and 206 out of around 1200 finishers. This was our best ever result with a time over the water of just over seven hours.
Verdict of our crew who now straddle 60 as an age group – Bare Knuckles is a machine for younger and more agile bodies but we will be back.”
The pink race pennant now has pride of place above my desk.