JOG NAB TOWER RACE – 13 April 2013

I was assured by Brian that the weather would be favourable for us to do the Nab Tower Race last weekend double-handed, although it would deteriorate later in the day. So I agreed to the challenge for the practical sailing experience to compliment my Day Skipper theory course that I’m currently doing.

The race started well with us conquering the pin end of the start line. We had decided to race with the No 3 Genoa and the Dacron main sail (with sliders) for ease of use. In retrospect we would have been better with the No 1 heading through the Solent as the wind was as little as 7 knots at times.

We stayed behind the main group of race boats and watched a fully-crewed Sigma 38 edge their way in front of us keeping close to the island shore. We had thought Sigmagician were the only other Sigma entry but, approaching the mark we spotted Mefisto’s devil-faced spinnaker coming towards us with Sigmagician close on their tail. We rounded the mark with no problems, and after a little delay hoisted our heavyweight spinnaker to a big cheer from Hot Rats crew.

As we passed the forts into the Solent the wind went further forward and started to increase gusting to 24 at times. This became harder to control, so we hoisted the No3 again and prepared to drop the kite. Not that easy, the guy got wrapped over the end of the boom, Brian struggled to free it and drop the spinnaker whilst I helmed the boat. This probably cost us several places in the race, finishing 10th out of 15 boats in our class.

The thought of a rewarding drink in the Island Sailing Club was tempting but with the weather deteriorating, we headed back to Haslar punching the tide all the way. It seemed to take forever, we got very wet and cold and I nearly lost the will to live!!  Back on our berth with the heating on I felt relieved albeit a little disappointed with our result.

 

Cowes-Cherbourg-Cowes Race Report Pt 2

Saturday: Relaxation

JOG organisers have arranged for the presentations of Race 1 to occur in the yacht house at 11.30am with free drinks! Brian explains how JOG have made the races a social event, which is something that sets them apart from other organisers, so I feel like I have picked a brilliant first weekend to introduce myself to offshore racing. Susanne gets us all ready in the morning for a run to the local supermarket / Carrefour beforehand, so that we stock up on wine, cheese and other French goods, something they haven’t always had the luxury of doing in previous years. Once, at the yacht club Brian collects our third place prize and everyone stays for a few hours chatting. We then head back to the boat to drop the prizes off, the skipper stays behind to finish a few jobs off on the boat and Neil (Paracelsus) is attempting to clean the sides of ‘Portsmouth rain’.

Before we all tuck in for the night, discussions about the weather and using the kite on the way back are had, various sails are attached to the deck and rope (sorry, sheets and guys) are rigged up ready for whatever tomorrow brings…

Sunday: Cherbourg – Cowes

Another 7am departure to get out to the start line, but this time we can see our competition and are all trying to catch the little amount of wind the sheltered harbour is providing, unlike the other day we all cross the line as a group, and it feels like I’m watching a slow motion replay as we are all trying very hard to escape Cherbourg. Despite every other encounter I’ve had we have to sit on the low side of the boat, since the wind is so low, will is at the bow shouting out progress of other yachts and alerting to still waters, indicating no wind. We appear to be near the back as we exit but appear to be staying further west than the others, suddenly we are out of the harbour and we are all moving our weight about to get the best from Marta until we are called to action getting the kite up.

Another yacht in the class ahead of us is flying a blue kite, I notice we aren’t flying the picturesque Marta logo I’ve seen pictures of and find out it’s because we have the heavyweight kite. We appear to be making good progress until the boat suddenly gets a gust of wind and turns, we then have the order to get the number 2 sail up in front of the kite to depower it and take the kite down. Conditions have changed.

Thankfully the return leg, although similar to the first in that we point the boat in one direction and sit on the side for several hours, is much more pleasant, we don’t have the snow, and we can see the other boats in our class, I’m attached to the boat, after helping pack a sail on the bow and sit at the end with my back to the waves.

Will is at the helm and we are cutting into the waves this time, causing a few to wash across the boat, a rather large one hits me from behind and I lift up a little, reminding me the importance of holding on J Will sarcastically shouts ‘wave’ so I physically wave at him, this happens several times over the next hour and keeps me amused.

As we approach the Isle of Wight, Brian discusses that we need to stay out to the East as the tide will change and bring us in towards land before we try to tack across into the Solent. We can see Paracelsus inshore, and Brian explains that if the land behind is appearing infront of the yacht we are moving faster, and vice versa. Paracelsus is moving faster… we have a race to the finish.

Our skipper is confident we will cross the line ahead as we have a crew of 7 and are about to use the kite again, whereas our visible competition is a crew of 4 and unlikely to use a kite. Talk of last year’s race and the lack of wind at the finish let’s us know that the weather can play harsh tricks and what should take 30 minutes last year took 2 hours.  We are now nearing the point at which to move into action. I’m directed to the back of the boat to man the winch again, taking direction from Liz or Will who have both been playing with the kite on the journey.

Sat on the low side of the boat near the water, I’m concentrating on listening for commands to winch, when suddenly there is a lot of shouting and I’m facing a large amount of water rushing down the side towards me. The kite has come unattached from the guy rope, and skipper is shouting commands. I sit there staring at the water for several minutes knowing I don’t know how to help and hoping it turns out ok, I’ve done my sea survival course and sit here thinking – I really don’t actually want to go into the water! I wake up and look at the guy rope, its trailing in the water, I can think of something useful to do, pull it of course. I do this and look up, the boat is calmer the team have sorted it out, Brian gives the command to get the kite down, I’m directed into the cabin to pull it down whilst the others feed it through. I then return to deck and sit in the companionway, I must look like a rabbit in headlights as about 3 people ask if I’m ok, which I am. We then set about getting the kite back up, oh well, nothing like getting back on the horse, and we do, and this time it works out perfectly. We overtake several other yachts and cross the line ahead of Paracelsus. Phew.

After a more eventful return race, we find out the next day that we came 3rd again. On reflection I don’t think I could have found a better yacht to race on, the skipper knows his boat and is calm if something goes wrong,  he also knows how to fix anything on it. I’m starting to feel a bit more useful on the boat and hope that I’ll pick up the technical jargon again quickly. I might even mention the wind direction next time?

Written by Emma Newman.

Cowes-Cherbourg-Cowes Race Report Pt 1

“My first offshore race… and my second!” The following Race Report has been kindly written by Emma after her first time aboard Marta.

Thursday – Preparations

I woke up with butterflies. Today I travel south for a few hours to meet Marta, the Sigma 38 yacht I’ll be spending the Easter weekend on, and the other 6 crew members. I met Brian, the skipper, during a Sea Survival course the month before, but have no idea what to expect this weekend. Do I have the correct gear, and will I remember anything from 3 years ago when I was last on a yacht?

I meet Brian and his wife Susanne and walk down with them to prepare the yacht. As we do this more of the crew arrive, until we are all aboard and ready to motor across to Cowes. During the crossing three of us introduce ourselves as the ‘novice with no offshore experience’ mentioned in the Skippers’ pre-race email, so I feel less like the odd one out, but do wonder how we will manage in the race!

Suddenly I’m being requested to helm, it’s getting dark, and I’m given various cardinals and buoys to aim for. I’m constantly pointing out ships in the distance and checking movement on the horizon to check we aren’t on a collision course, but get told ‘we aren’t close unless we hit it!’. Heading into the Marina I’m still at the helm and suddenly we are in a minefield of buoys. Will takes charge of checking we don’t hit anything and once we are near the entrance and through the buoys, Brian takes charge of the helm again. I’m relieved I didn’t hit anything and surprised I was allowed to helm that close into shore in the dark, but I’m happy. Safely moored in Cowes we have dinner, beers, and then head to the pub. The atmosphere is relaxed and we all confirm our start time (7am) and lots of talk of Easterly winds before heading to bed, thankfully Marta has a heater on board!

Good Friday: Cowes – Cherbourg

It’s the morning of the race and we are all getting ready, Susanne is making sure everyone has breakfast and I help to prepare sandwiches for lunch, as no-one will want to go below during the race to make them then. I put on 2 pairs of socks, 2 base layers, my new mid-layer, salopettes, a jumper and coat and then my new MPX Musto outerwear, along with the boots I hope will keep my feet warm. Up on deck I find that I’m one of 3 girls all in the same Red Musto Jackets, we have team wear without planning it!

The next bit is a little bit of a blur as I sit here a few days later trying to remember it, but we head out to join the other boats near the start line, we are manoeuvring around, and are all shown the start line. I can’t remember if we were still trying to organise sails, or just waiting for the start, but the radio is silent and suddenly we realise the rest of the boats in our class have gone! We have missed the start by about 10 minutes… being used to the motor circuit and 20 minute races, this seems a major setback and although the crew are disappointed it doesn’t affect the atmosphere onboard.

Still a blur all I remember is that my feet and hands are freezing cold, despite all the layers I put on, Brian, the skipper says it’s ok to go below and warm up if I want. Everyone is sitting around, so I go below where Susanne passes me a seasickness tablet as she takes one herself. I’m told to go up into the pilot berth (a bit like a top bunk bed) on the high side of the boat, so that my weight is in the correct location. Embarrassingly I fall asleep and wake up to find my feet are even colder than before. I slowly peek out and look on deck to find everyone more or less where I left them and go out to find that Susanne and Liz are also asleep below suffering from seasickness. I take my place up on deck, weighting the boat and the 5 of us sit there for the journey across, on the same single tack, for a further 4/5 hours, whilst Brian and Will take it in terms to helm the boat.

During the conversations on deck to find out how we are doing I learn that a boat in our class has turned back and retired, I think it is due to the weather conditions; visibility isn’t very good, there are quite a few white horses about and the wind is gusting. I hear 27 knots being mentioned and later learn we were in a force 6. Towards the end of the race, the battery power falls below 75% and the instruments go off, so we can no longer see the boat or wind speed. We still have navigation, but head into the marina with the sails as they were even though the wind seems quite strong. I later learn that most other boats had reefed the main due to the winds, which we might have done if we knew the wind speed.

We look around for a berth, I hear discussion about holding a place for the yacht that moored up next to us when we started, they are yet to arrive and we have beaten them in, even though we started late, and it appears we just sat there doing nothing on the way over, how does that work!

Paracelsus arrives whilst we are below drinking coffee, it is another Sigma 38 from our class and has a much smaller crew, including the skipper Neil, who used to crew on Marta. It’s nice to see how friendly the racing is and we all head to the yacht club for beers, to find out that we came 3rd!

Written by Emma Newman.

Moving forward

Marta had a successful 2012, taking part in the Spring Series, Winter Series, Cowes Week as well as off shore races.

Finishing 5th overall in the Inshore Series and 2nd in Offshore Series took Marta to 4th in the Grand Championship.

Now looking forward to the year ahead, we want to build on last year and continue to improve up to and including this year’s famous Fastnet Race. Keep one eye on the Racing pages of this website for up to date news. If you’re interested in being part of the crew, please email info@sailmarta.com

Fastnet Race 2013

Fresh from Christmas, spent on board (complete with Christmas tree), Marta is now registered for the Rolex Fastnet Race 2013. The button was pressed at 12:15pm yesterday (7th January) and the countdown has begun!

We are currently looking for crew to race this historic race of races. Why not join us for over 600 nautical miles of ever-changing excitement? This year’s boat entry limit was reached within 24 hours, so this is a hotly anticipated race and one not to be missed off any sailing CV.

Please visit the sailmarta Race Page for more information on Marta’s 2013 campaign and visit the Rorc website for general information on the race itself.

For all enquiries, please email sailmarta at: info@sailmarta.com

 

Race Report: Winter Series Week 8

Today was the last race of the Winter Series and boy had winter arrived; my car was showing an outside temperature of -2°C as I drove to the marina. Our great Skipper had fashioned some hot sausages butties for our breakfast, eaten hungrily on the way to the start. We had seven onboard and we were all looking to put into practice all the lessons learnt during the year, before we forget them over the winter rest period!
The wind was a very gentle WNW breeze ranging from 3-6 knots. The course set by the race committee had three legs and basically was a windward leeward course. As the tide was starting to change and head into Southampton Water on the shore, our general plan was to keep on the right side of each leg.  This meant we wanted to start at the committee boat end and head onto port when it was possible.  Our upwind plan got modified, within the last 5 minutes prior to the start, as looking up the race track the wind inshore on the right of the course looked lighter than to the left.  The best breeze seemed to be straight downwind of Southampton Water entrance. We started well, a little way down the line, with Mefisto just above us. As she was going faster, she quickly rolled us, slowing us up further as we entered her dirty wind.  We looked to play the shifts up the beat, with some success, although we got at least one tack on a header wrong, as we headed back straight away. We also struggled to get the same boat speed as the boats around us in the light breeze.
We arrived at the windward mark last, just behind the tightly bunched fleet ahead. Our bear away set was good and we were able to sail deeper, with the same boat speed as many of the fleet in front. This allowed us to overhaul them as they headed out into the last of the East tide. During this period we heard that the race was being shortened at the leeward mark.
Mefisto was the first to gybe to our right of our path and we were clear ahead. Our plan however was to gybe before her track, to maintain our wind and our starboard advantage.  We delayed our gybe too long allowing for Mefisto to get behind us and then after a while to roll us again! We continued on port with Light now heading for us, to take our wind and to overtake.  We decided to gybe onto starboard as Light rolled us, in attempt to keep some breeze. This manoeuvre meant we got trapped to windward of Degree of Latitude, stopping us from gybing to the finish until they had gybed first. It was a tight finish with Marta being recorded as a deadbeat with With Alacrity in joint 7th place, just behind Degree of latitude and light.
Another very enjoyable day on the water with team Marta, despite the imperfect result.

Andrew Terry (Nav, tactics and kite trimmer)

Christmas is coming!

With Christmas soon closing in, why not give the gift of a unique sailing experience to a loved one, friend or colleague. We are available for booking throughout 2013, in Solent waters, or further afield, from a short afternoon, to an extended trip.
Marta is available for skippered charter, allowing you to have a good old fashioned adventure, safe in the knowledge you’ll be in the competent hands of a yachtmaster qualified skipper and will learn and most importantly have fun!
Please pass the message on, we even do tailored team-building events, so why not give your boss a little nudge?

For all enquiries, please send us an email at:
info@sailmarta.com

Looking forward to sailing with you!