There may be little wind on the racecourse for the 1,200 or so teams contesting Island Sailing Club’s annual 50nm race around the Isle of Wight, but there is certainly no shortage of competitive spirit.
Racing is close throughout the fleet apart from Tony Lawson’s record-breaking five-year-old MOD70 foiling trimaran Concise Fling that broke away from the pack at the Needles, rounded St Catherine’s Point, and as of an hour ago was tracking along up the east coast towards Bembridge, alone.
Even in the expected light winds of just 10 knots, this crazy machine can reach 35kts of boat speed, so whatever the weather there are generally always plenty of thrills to be had aboard this boat.
The bulk of the fleet, however, was enjoying a tactical game of cat-and-mouse down the west coast of the Island. Jennifer Burgis and the all-female team who raced the 2015-16 Clipper Round the World Race are today sailing Fleur de Lis, a chartered Beneteau Oceanis 37, and are currently sailing an impressive race. Importantly, they managed to reach the Needles before the tide turned.
Burgis commented from the racecourse: “Despite the lack of wind we are extremely pleased with our progress. It took us just two hours to get to the Needles. We had a great start with Holly [Kitching] on the helm and Caroline Bowen on tactics, which was key and, we are looking forward to continuing to work hard and gain more places as we head down the west coast.
“We are really pleased because we seem to have caught up with the Turquoise flagged group that started 10 minutes ahead of us. I think we can put our impressive speed down to Caroline Bowen our tactician who is calling some really good shots in these tricky conditions.”
Although the sea breeze should have now filled in, it is generally slow going. More than half the fleet is round the Needles but the race was on for those struggling to reach that point before the tide turned at 11.30am.
Even if the cloud builds on land and sea breeze does develop, it is unlikely to be significant. Around the top of the Island from Bembridge Ledge to Ryde — the lee of the island — will be one of the biggest areas of concern and a lot of places were likely to be won and lost there. See the Race Tracker for more.