Following an inauspicious weather forecast the wind filled in before the start of the Channel Race to a steady 15 – 20 knots south westerly. Lutine enjoyed vying for position at the start with Juno and Palpatine, starting with Artemis on the northern side of the Solent to stay out of foul tides for the first hour of the race.
Artemis subsequently left without saying goodbye, but we entertained ourselves in a tacking competition with Juno and Palpatine along the contour lines of the Western Solent, and were comfortably ahead of them both before the Needles, where the apparent wind built to 22 knots. Lutine glided through the water gracefully with full main up until we finally reached our mark at St Alban’s Head.
Following the rounding, a sea of colourful spinnakers unfurled, but our contribution to that spectacle was delayed by a twist in our spinnaker, which was finally launched just as Palpatine was overtaking on a broad reach towards St Catherine’s point.
Apart from that we had an uneventful spinnaker reach along the south of the island overtaking several boats along the way, and during a glorious evening Lutine gybed shortly after St Catherine’s Point to head for her next mark. Following a spectacular sunset and another gybe Lutine made her way under a moonlit sky enabling us to trim the spinnaker without any torchlight, passing Owers south cardinal to port.
The approach to the finish line was crowded with competitors and 2 container ships, one hurrying away from Southampton and out to sea at speed, and the other progressing along the Solent at a more stately pace. As the wind gradually decreased our trimmers tried to get every ounce of performance out of the yacht, and when it filled in as we all approached the finish line, the race committee was kept very busy for a while!
This is the last of Lutine’s Fastnet qualifying races, the whole crew has been grateful for skipper Neil’s guidance and patience throughout, and we are all looking forward to meeting up in Haslar in just a fortnight’s time for the Fastnet itself.
Watch this space!