RTIR 2016 – A breezy, bumpy day on the water
RTIR 2016 will be remembered by many competitors for its big winds and even bigger seas. According to bar room debriefs some boats rounded the Needles with over 40 knots across the deck along with copious amounts of green water. Wight Diamond, entered as Consilio for the race, was ahead of the weather cell that brought those conditions but nevertheless had a very memorable day on the water.
Wight Diamond is an Elan 434 – a comfortable cruiser rather than a thoroughbred racer therefore – owned and managed by Four Seasons Yacht Charter in Gosport but entered on this occasion by Yachtforce on behalf of its client Consilio, and skippered by Graham of theyachtforce.com. She was placed in ISC Class 5 with a rating that reflects her outwardly modest performance aspirations. In 2015, however, she proved that she could get around the island relatively swiftly, performing particularly well when on a reach.
The weather forecast for RTIR 2016 predicted gradually increasing south westerly winds but generally fine weather over the island. A potentially more significant factor was the stronger tides- the race is generally timed for neap tides – which would inevitably mean significant wind over tide waves at certain points. Wow, and so it proved.
A mediocre first leg down to Hurst in which the desire for clean air over tidal advantage paid no dividends was followed by a lively beam reach towards St Catherine’s. Like most of the boats in the middle part of the fleet we did not even consider hoisting the kite – realism and discretion triumphing over ambition. Rounding the southern end of the island in a now steady F6/7 and occasional higher wind speeds, our minds were even further from spinnaker work. A combination of overfalls to the SE of St Cats and the wind/ tide effect produced large waves which had boats slewing and sliding all over the place. Time for fixed rictus grins.
The final section of the race, from Bembridge Ledge to Cowes, allowed Wight Diamond to stretch her legs and for us to force our way higher up the fleet. The crew got busy with short tacking past Ryde, dodging the sands, the ferries and other competitors and we held a steady course across Osborne Bay towards the finish. Remarkably, the finish for us was without drama and we finally crossed the line at 1837 – 3 minutes under 9 hours from the start. 52nd in class and 270 in ISC was not quite the result we had hoped for but that mattered little in the bar as stories were told and backs were slapped. Well done Consilio!