Round The Island Race

01 Jun Round The Island Race

Concise 8’s First Win.

Almost a year after the delivery of Concise 8 (C8) – one where the boat was plagued with constant rudder problems, Team Concise finally achieved their first win. They took the Class 40 Division of the J P Morgan Round the Island Race.  The 8th monohull across the line out of a fleet of 1,543 boats.  It was a great result, in a predominantly very light air race.  Four years ago Concise 2 set a two-handed 40ft record for the same 60 mile course completing the circuit in 4 hours and 47 minutes.  Saturday’s race took C8 almost 8½ hours.  Over 500 boats failed to finish.  Bearing in mind C8 was designed for off shore sailing in 12 plus knots, it was a fine achievement.

The week prior to the race was hectic.  Team Director, Tony Lawson, flew in from China with new rudder parts from builders McConaghy.  Representatives from the yard and Ker Yacht Design, had to put in 18 hour days to complete the necessary repairs.  Even then, Race Captain, Ned Collier-Wakefield, Boat Captain Tom Dawson and the rest of the crew had less than a day to commission the boat and get her race ready.

Saturday saw a 4am wake up call for the crew of 6. The maximum allowed under Class 40 racing rules.  Ned navigated while regulars Tom Dawson and Sam Pearson took over helm and trim duties.  The foredeck fell to “Nipper” Jack Trigger and Inmarsat rep and racer Samantha Evans. Aussie “newbie”, Jay Halligan, did a great job floating between the cockpit and mast.  Although the boat is not set up for this sort of stuff, there is no doubt that the crew’s smart sail handling with their numerous “inside out” spinnaker peels and excellent trimming made the difference between “hero and zero”.

With a large high-pressure system sitting over the south coast all week, it wasn’t a big surprise to find ourselves sat on the line at 06.30am with barely enough wind to keep “up tide” of the Royal Yacht Squadron start line.

The first leg consisted of a patchy upwind beat to The Needles.  Having worked up a lead over the Class 40 fleet, we ended up in a hole off of Yarmouth, letting our closest competitor (Forty Shades of Grey) cross us on the next tack. This became the theme for the whole race.  The fleet bunching up and the race restarting at each hole.  Obviously we managed to dig ourselves out each time, but it was definitely a tactical and very nervy event.

Once round the The Needles it was a tidal relief inshore or more breeze offshore?  We went for the offshore route and ended up peeling between the A0, Reaching 0, A3 and A2.  By St Catherine’s Point we had managed to pull out a 2 mile lead over the rest of the Class 40 fleet, which we built on with tidal relief by gybing into Sandown Bay.

However, the “fun” wasn’t over yet.  Back in the Solent a large conversion zone spanning the width of the eastern approach brought the front runners to a grinding halt. The boats behind us saw what was panning out and took advantage by picking their way around us inshore.  Agony!  We were left stuck, doing whatever we could do to get the boat moving again.  We even tried sailing with both rudders raised to reduce our drag. We used sail trim and crew body weight to steer the boat.

With ‘Forty Shades’ now in the lead between us and the “flag”, the last four miles were really tense.  However, as the wind slowly filled C8 came into her own.  Taking advantage of every puff, we started to reel in the one-mile lead.  Using our “0”, and with the line in sight, we got ourselves to windward of Forty Shades, retook the lead and held until we crossed the line.  It was a long hot day at the office. You could say that with the holes and the bunching we had to win the race not once but three times.

Team Concise would like to thank their partners, Aspen Snowmass, Inmarsat and Helly Hansen for standing by us during what has been a very trying year. The coming months will see Ned start his much delayed work up for the single-handed Route du Rhum (3500 miles from France to West Indies).  Meanwhile, the race crew will be training for the Round Britain and Ireland Race this August.  We hold the World Record, so we will be defending our title.

One final note.  Ned beat Sir Ben Ainslie boat for boat in the race.

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