Report from Neilsons J105 'Redeye' on racing and what happens when the helm becomes the bowman, the mainsail trimmer becomes the mast man.....

Friday, April 21, 2017

Beachy Head Regatta - 2017

Once again the racing season of the Hyde Sails powered J105 ‘Redeye’ began over the Easter weekend. A new event in the calendar, the ‘Beachy Head Regatta’, was run jointly between Brighton Marina YC and Sovereign Harbour YV (Eastbourne). 

The Brighton fleet took the opportunity on Good Friday to hold a passage race to Eastbourne where the first races in the regatta were being held that afternoon.  With the start line crossed and spinnakers set the fleet enjoyed a sail in sunshine down the Sussex coast with a following wind and tide.  Whilst some boats headed off-shore into a stronger tide, Redeye took a more inshore course that allowed them a closer view of the glorious coastline that included the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head but also meant that they cut a considerable amount off the distance sailed by some when the gybe to the finish was made.  Having ‘peeled’ from the A2 to the A1R they finished second on the water and took the IRC class 1 win on corrected time.

Once all the Brighton fleet had arrived off Eastbourne they were joined by the Sovereign Harbour YC fleet.  Redeye was ‘quick out of the blocks’ and were first and then second across the finishing line in the afternoons two ‘round the cans’ races but took the wins on corrected time.  

Saturday saw the fleet enjoy two more ‘round the cans’ races off Eastbourne.  The ‘boat on boat’ racing was close but once again Redeye took two more race wins to cement their position in first overall.  Following a general recall the afternoon passage race finally managed to get underway that took the fleet back to Brighton with once again the fleet enjoying a following tide.  Whilst many boats took a long tack off-shore looking for the stronger tide, Redeye was the first to tack off Beachy Head and sailing through a very lumpy (and wet) stretch of water led the charge west.  With the forecast indicating the breeze was going to ‘go right’ the plan was to forgo some of the offshore tidal advantage for being on the correct side of the shift, when (and if …) it came in.  Off Newhaven the shift was spotted and whilst some boats had tacked offshore, Redeye continued inshore, took the shift and gained a considerable advantage which they worked to the finish.  Once the corrected times had been calculated the first three boats had all finished within a minute after a three hour plus race.  Despite being the smallest boat in IRC1, Redeye managed a pleasing second.

Sunday dawned with sunshine and a pleasant 8kt breeze.  A change to the race program meant that IRC1 would have only one race after a delayed start.  With the regatta thus won the crew of Redeye decided to change the crew positions around so they could better appreciate each-others roles when racing, with the new positions being determined by drawing numbers from a hat.  Thus, now pay attention here, the helm became the bowman, the mainsail trimmer became the mast-man and the upwind trimmer the mainsail trimmer.  The downwind trimmer became the upwind trimmer and the bow-girl became the downwind trimmer.  Meanwhile the mast-man became the helm whilst the pitman stayed put.  It very quickly became apparent the helm as the bowman wasn’t going to work, so, the helm who became the bowman returned to the helm, whilst the bowman who became the helm became the mainsail trimmer and the upwind trimmer who had become the mainsail trimmer became the bowman, the rest of the crew, including the pitman, stayed put, and practice resumed.  Having tried a ‘port tack flyer’ off the start line in a building breeze the two fly-weight lady trimmers decided they didn’t have the strength/weight to continue together in their positions.  Thus, the upwind trimmer who had been the downwind trimmer moved to the bow.  The bowman who had initially been the upwind trimmer before a brief spell as mainsail trimmer became the mast man and the mast man who had been the mainsail trimmer became the upwind trimmer.  The rest of the crew, including the pitman, stayed put.

The race was raced in a building breeze and sea state which led to some wet upwind work and exhilarating downwind legs.  Once again the speed of Redeye provided by the Hyde designed and built sails allowed her to take first place and fully cement their position at the top of the IRC1 leader board overall in the first running of the Beachy Head Regatta.

Boat- Redeye, an ageing, like most of the crew, J105

Crew - in original sailing positions

Helm – Pip

Mainsheet – Gawy

Upwind Trimmer – Wooderz

Downwind Trimmer – Jamie

Pitman – Pete

Mast – Joe

Bow-girl - Sarah

PS. Did we learn anything from changing positions?  In short, those who usually operate at the front end of the boat but had moved aft found how enjoyable sailing can be by simply being able to stay dry, whilst those who moved forward began talking of having to replace items of not so waterproof sailing kit.  Also, don’t try a port tack flyer when the ‘information chain’ has been considerably re-arranged, and if operating at the mast, gloves should be worn …   

Hyde Sails Ltd, Harbour Building Office A, Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton SO31 4NB

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