Round the Wight Rally

Tuesday 18th July – Thursday 29th July 2023

On Tuesday, Roussilon, Moody Maid, Fairwind, Lady P and Osprey gathered in Yarmouth for the Round the Wight Rally. Opus 4 had to pull out of the Yarmouth leg but hoped to meet us in Bembridge along with Firebird, Snoopy and Desiree.

Crews enjoyed nibbles and drinks aboard Fairwind on Tuesday evening for the usual social catch up before the business of working out when to leave the next morning. Everyone reckoned that Tim (rally leader in Firebird) had got it right with his image1emailed suggestion. So, 0500 hours it was then. Lady P had decided to stay on in Yarmouth to give Pippa a well-earned rest; she loved short passages but was a bit fed up with the long passages that we seemed only to have this year on the Summer Rally. Osprey with father and daughter crew (Rebecca) headed back to Chichester directly as originally intended. Roussilon, Moody Maid and Fairwind set off west, motor sailing under a slightly grey sky to get to the Needles in time for the tide change. After the Needles, the sailing was very pleasant with a 10-13 knot westerly wind allowing a broad reach if the crews were minded to go through the southern part of the St Catherine’s overfalls. The swell on the quarter was not bad with some ‘minor’ surfing, but interesting to see that the overfalls flattened it making sailing through them even more fun with the slight ‘swirlies’. It is always a delight to see dolphins and more were seen, again heading to Dartmouth possibly for fish and chips. The sun came out chasing the clouds away making it like ‘champagne sailing’ and progress was really good. After rounding St Catherine’s and following a port gybe, it was even better. The seas completely flattened benefitting from the small amount of shelter and even with slightly less wind, the speed held up. We had reckoned on maybe 7.5 hours for the trip, but it turned out just over 6 which had Fairwind checking the Bembridge web page for adequate height above the bar. Fairwind crossed the Bar with 2.7m with the Bembridge  ‘App’ saying 2.23. Interesting! Roussilon and Moody Maid followed, rafting up against Fairwind.

Snoopy, Firebird, Opus 4 and Desiree set out from Chichester with strengthening winds, forecasted to be fluctuating around a South Westerly direction. Ian in Desiree commented that he had never had wind on the nose on every leg going down the image2harbour before. Tim in Firebird joked that Chimet was only reading F3 when he set out and consequently was looking forward to a gentle sail over to Bembidge. Long story short, wind gusting as high as 27 knots and a short chop made it a memorable trip!

The heavy conditions parted Snoopy’s genoa halyard swivel so the sail had to be lowered permanently. In Bembridge, the team of John and Jack with a little help from Ian, managed to get the swivel down from the top of the foil by a very clever system using thin rope and the boat hook. Impressive. Repairs ensued.

Well done to the four boats for getting there and at some cost.

Chat and drinks aboard Fairwind and Rousillon then up to the Vine Inn for dinner. We joined in the Vine quiz night and although not officially partaking whispered the odd answer amongst ourselves – how some local teams managed about 70% correct, we will never know. In some way it was a pity that organising dinner at the intended venue the Brading Haven Yacht Club proved difficult, but the Vine certainly came up trumps.

A lazy start to a lovely day for the return. A light westerly wind pushed the flotilla back at a gentle pace; just so different to the thrash over the previous day from Chichester.

Great to see Martin Watson in Frith on his way back up to Dell Quay on the final leg of his round UK single handed sail.

Thanks to Tim for organising the Round the Wight Rally.

Barrie Pearson