Crews recovering from the party on Saturday night were met with heavy rain on Sunday morning which threatened to delay the start of the race due to poor visibility. Fortunately, the front soon passed leaving a steady force 4-5 providing ideal cat sailing conditions. The fleet of 12 boats started just before 11:00 from the start/finish line at Langstone Harbour entrance, on the first leg upwind to No Man’s Land Fort.
The first boat back from the fort was Grant Piggot and Sam Barker on the Nacra Carbon 20 FCS closely followed by William Sunnocks and Mark Self on the M20 Vampire ‘White Bear’, both an amazing sight up on their foils with Spinnakers flying on the approach to the turning mark a short distance further up the channel from the start/finish line. Simon Northrop and Fraz Farren on Nacra Infusion GBR1581 arrived shortly after, and were to stay at the front of the chasing pack for the rest of the event.
White Bear took advantage of the event’s unique ‘Time Out’ option to stop for a few minutes to replace a rope before starting leg 2, however it was not their day and White Bear retired soon afterwards with a torn mainsail.
The second and longest leg out to Bembridge Ledge (just off the eastern corner of the Isle of Wight) saw another upwind slog followed by a wild downwind ride back to the turning mark in the stiffening breeze. With 2 boats opting to retire after completing the 2nd leg, the rest of the fleet headed back upwind to Spit Sand Fort just off Portsmouth Harbour entrance.
By the end of leg 3 Grant and Sam on the foiling Nacra Carbon 20 had a lead of more than 17 minutes over the nearest F18, but the eight boats in the chasing pack (F18s and Inter 20s) were separated by less than 11 minutes lead-to-last boat after more than 3 hours of racing.
Leg 4 (West Winner Cardinal) was the shortest leg of the race at a mere 5 nautical miles round-trip. By this time the tide had risen sufficiently to give the boats enough water over the sandbar to avoid damage to foils.
The final leg out to West Pole off Chichester Harbour entrance was downwind with an upwind return to the finish line. The Race Officer’s threat to add the Nab Tower into the course at the end of the race did not materialise.
|1||GBR1581||F18||Simon Northrop||Fraz Farren|
|2||GBR1577||F18||Tim Neal||Bob Fry|
|3||GBR1825||F18||Simon Flack||Neil Green|
|4||NED4||F18||James Fox||Ben Clothier|
|5||GBR9||Nacra Carbon 20 FCS||Grant Piggot||Sam Barker|
|6||GBR29||GBR29||Ghislain Melaine||Harry Willett|
|7||501||F18||Nick Barnes||Neil Baldry|
|8||1098||Inter 20||Tom Green||Jon Cotgreave|
|9||316||Inter 20||Chris King||Matthew Amiss|
|DNF||GBR1||M20 Vampire||William Sunnocks||Mark Self|
|DNF||GBR517||F18||Mark Taylor||Andy Chapman|
|DNF||2320||F18||Toby Hoyle||Steve Randle|
Download the full results with individual leg timings here: Results with times.pdf.
The Solent Forts Race is a long-distance event for sports catamarans set in the Eastern Solent, with Hayling Island and Portsmouth to the north and the Isle of Wight to the west.
The race comprises a number of legs radiating out from a gate (like a star), allowing the course configuration and length to be adjusted according to the conditions prevailing on the day (see example course diagram below). The race gets its name from the Napoleonic Channel Forts that comprise two of the marks of the course.