Back on the Race Course

It’s been a while, but it looks like next Saturday, 27th June, will finally see a decent fleet of J/109s on the water racing together. Currently there are 9 from our class entered for the JOG Lonely Tower Race; out to the NAB tower and back.

With government restrictions still requiring a 2m social distance to be maintained, it doesn’t seem practical to put together a crew in the traditional manner. The rules require entrants to be crewed 2 handed (with a 2m social distance) or sailed by members of a single household. For many of us, this is likely to present some new challenges and on board Jiraffe at least, we’re planning to take a pretty conservative approach.

Household Crew, first outing of the Season. Photo: Perry

The first important decision is whether to use the spinnaker or not. If a boat elects at entry to sail without the spinnaker, they can take advantage of the significantly lower “non-spinnaker” rating. On Jiraffe, this would take us from our usual 1.010 to 0.994. But it’s a long way to the Nab Tower and there’s not much to do without a spinnaker to play with, so we’ve entered at the full rating.

Training a new spinnaker trimmer. Photo: Perry

The next challenge is recruiting and training your Household Crew. We are fortunate in that most of the household have, at one point or another, been fully involved in the Jiraffe campaign. But nevertheless, an important clincher in this case was the assurance that the Race Officer would be cancelling the race in the event that the wind was forecast to be 25 knots or above.

We’ve been out a couple of times as a household crew since the River Hamble opened up. The first trip was in company with Jago. A gentle beat up to Lymington, then turnaround to enjoy lunch on the way back to the Hamble.

Jago. Photo: Perry

We split off away from Jago toward the Island and tentatively launched the kite, performed a pretty rusty jybe which resulted in a bit of knitting to untangle, both in the sheets and between the sail and the forestay, but after that we were pretty much back in the groove.

Photo: JohnGreenCowes

The principal learning from this trip was that without the usual frenetic activity of rounding a mark and changing sails every 15 minutes or so, you need to pack a lot more snacks to keep the crew from getting bored.

Need snacks to combat the boredom! Photo: Perry

The second trip was to Colwell Bay for lunch. An Easterly provided another opportunity to practice with the spinnaker on the way down the Solent and by the time we had to return, there was enough South in the wind for a pleasant reach back to the Hamble.

Return from Colwell Bay. Photo: Perry

Since the first outings, we have realised that whatever the weather, we should be wearing life jackets from the moment we leave the dock to the moment we return. This will be a rule for the JOG Lonely Tower Race and entrants will have to pass through a gate before the start to demonstrate that all crew members are wearing a jacket and safety harness.

So, I guess we are ready. Let’s see what Saturday brings. It will be a new experience for all of us.

If you want to come and join the race, you’ve still got until 17:00hrs on Wednesday to get your entry in via the excellent JOG website.

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