“Jago” and “Just So” battled it out to take the top two positions in Class 2 in the spectacular JOG Lonely Tower race yesterday.
The first congratulations must surely go to JOG for all the effort that went into staging such a spectacular race. With around 120 entries and 92 finishers, this must have been the biggest organised sailing race on the solent this year and it was fantastic to see familiar faces and new participants out on the race course after a long spell in isolation courtesy of the COVID-19 situation.
Organisation by JOG was faultless. Clear sailing instructions, a detailed briefing over Zoom and full online support via their excellent web site made for a successful event. The race was originally scheduled for 27th June, but the Sailing Instructions clearly flagged the intention of the organisers to take a view on the weather. As a result of the pandemic, the focus of the race was on household crews or double handed and minimising the risk of drawing on the emergency services. There was also a recognition that even the regularly raced yachts would be dealing with a new crew set up and less experience on board. So with forecasted winds consistently above 25 knots on the scheduled date, the decision was taken to delay to 11th July.
The rescheduled date delivered very different conditions. Forecasted winds of below 5 knots for much of the morning indicated it would be a challenging day for racing, but with the sun out, the competitors turned up to the waters off Cowes in droves to pass the JOG race hut near Egypt Point to signal their intention to race.
On the day, the J/109 fleet managed to float 9 of the original 11 boats entered for the original race. This was the biggest class meeting of the year so far.
The course would take the fleet eastwards along the solent on a fair tide, through the forts, out to the Nab Tower, where Rick Tomlinson was taking snaps, down to “Winner”, off Hayling Island, back through the forts and then against the weakening tide to the finish on the JOG line.
With the tide pushing the fleet over the line in the light conditions, most chose to stay well back, spread right along the line. But heading into the island shore the wind died and a large, airless hole developed from Cowes to Osborne Bay – the “Norris Car Park”. The smart ones spotted the issue and ignored the weather forecast, which suggested the breeze would build on the island shore, to head North. As the saying goes, “when the winds in the North, go north”. There was cost to this move and at one point we on Jiraffe spotted Jago apparently heading back to Calshot and, we assumed, home. But they had other plans and tacked back having closed on the Hill Head shore, visiting Lee-on-Solent and Stokes Bay en-route to No Mans Land Fort.
But they weren’t alone and were pursued relentlessly by Just So who were also sailing double handed. As they soared ahead, many of the rest of the fleet were left becalmed, trying every combination of sails in an attempt to harness any zephyrs of wind to get to the stronger pressure on the mainland shore.
A fierce dual to the finish developed between these two competitors and I’ve reproduced below a blow by blow account of events from Mike Yates of Jago. It’s an excellent read.
There was a second hole in the wind just after the forts as the South Westerly gave into a more Southerly wind once the effect of the Island was removed. But after this the wind settled and gradually built to speed the fleet to the finish. Jago made it to the Nab Tower first of the entire fleet at around 13:15. Then, following the extended dual described below, it was Jago and Just So who took 1st and 2nd in Class 2 and also in overall 2-handed. Well done, fantastic sailing and another spectacular result for the J/109 fleet as a whole.
Meanwhile, Jiraffe purchased a 2 hour ticket for the “Norris Car Park” and was determined to get full value from that, so missed the excitement in Stokes Bay. But the crew were thrilled since the delay to the Nab meant that we encountered a pod of about 7 dolphins who played around the boat for 5 minutes, bashing into the rudder with some force as they swam below the boat from port to starboard and back. We managed to put up almost all the sails and ate the majority of our provisions, so we considered this a great success.
Well done to JOG for staging a great event and to all the J/109s who made it out onto the water. The next JOG event is the “Great Escape” next Saturday, a similar format but this time to the Western Solent.
Final J/109 results below.
Full JOG results available HERE
Blow by blow account of victory from the decks of Jago…
Hey what a spectacular day….thanks to the JOG for delaying 2 weeks…and fantastic to get out on the water again…..Mike Yates, Jago
It was close all the way round and 7 secs between us after over 5 hours…David that was a great battle all the way round….and you really came back at us right at the finish when it started getting into a tacking duel…great day out.
Started off with the car carrier coming in and pushed us right towards Cowes and then the class 3 car park off Norris. Then we saw Chris ploughing along with a bow wave further north. At thispoint we decided to ignore the forecast which said most breeze was on the island shore and just head for whatever wind there was, to keep the boat going so took a tack north heading for the same breeze that Chris was now powering away in to the distance on. We kept going a little further north and deeper into the wind band before tacking back as we could now see Chris slowing on the edge of the Norris car park.
And then David popped up….Damn! We were probably 100m in front heading towards Lee on Solent.
Wind went left to allow the kite hoist whilst otherswere playing with zeros, which don’t seem to work, (probably because I haven’t got one) and we just kept the boat moving. David and I seemed to be attached by elastic as we’d come together and then extend our lead a bit all the way to the fort. Close passing of the forts and fishing fleet, which seemed to surprise the day trippers.
Off Bembridge we could see the SW sea breeze off shore so decided to keep higher than the lay line so we could keep the kite up as long as possible and to compensate for the east going tide; then we saw big left shift coming on the water, rapidly dumped the kite just in time, for a tight fetch to the tower. David and Will took a little longer to get their kite down so we managed to extend our lead to about 3 mins at the Tower (and first round!). We could see the majority of the fleet still with kites up around the forts at this point….nice! and we really weren’t expecting this!!! Kept thinking…this is going to turn inside out at some point.
By the end of the fetch to Winner, David (and a couple of Sunfasts) werecreeping up on us again so we popped the kite again for the last mile to thebuoy to keep distance, still had 3 mins lead.
On the beat back it was a case of keeping out of the tide until it turned so long leg towards the barrier and out to round the fort then in towards Gosport and short tacking along the mainland shore through Stokes bay until the tide turned. And David was still there……us covering him all the time just holding him off.
Breeze was now a good SW 10-14 kts. David was still right behind us so we were into loose cover tacks. We then did an experimental tack out to see if the tide had turned, only to see that David still had better tide close inshore so lost out a bit. Now down to a 2 min lead….ahhh.
Finally at East Bramble we headed across towards Norris now with a stronger breeze SW 15kts, just holding David off about 2mins. Then coming into Norris he kept going on starboard for literally another 200m than we did and gained a huge amount. Damn this is really getting close. A few more short tacks past the Squadron and into the finish line for line honours and a J/109 1,2…. that’s got to be good news for the fleet. Still can’t believe that.
We just nipped it from David by 7 secs….that was blinking close but what a great race…..thanks for keeping the pressure on David. Thoroughly enjoyed it….but then I guess I would say that!