Competitors racing in the inaugral Solent Forts Race were blessed with arguably the best sailing weather this year! The Saturday afternoon warm up session saw people dissappearing off for hours, taking in the fantastic sailing area that we have at HFSC...
It looked like we would be waiting for the wind to kick in on Sunday as conditions looked particularly light as the fleet rigged up.
Following the briefing, the 13 competitors headed out onto the water and we were met with some promising conditions for the race, there was plenty of breeze out on the water to make the start interesting, and at 11am sharp, the 5 minute horn was sounded and 5 minutes later the fleet was heading for it's first mark - Horse Sand Fort.
10 minutes later, the field had split, the majority heading for open water to the south, whilst HFSC members Richard Golden & Matt Illston headed for the northerly route - a decision which they would end up regretting...
The cloud that provided the initial blast of wind passed over head, leaving behind an area of dead calm roughly covering the entire fleet... Progress for the next hour and a half was very difficult - especially for the northerly fleet. The Spitfire of Golden & Howting was seen to pass over the submarine defences at Southsea 3 times as they were pushed on by gusts, then back by the tide!
By the time the fleet had rounded the first mark, the forecast sea breeze began to fill in from the South, and the race was off again.
Progress was much more swift from this point on - Will Sunnocks in the M20 Vampire was smoothly gliding ahead of the field, while the Nacras of Simon Northrop, Adam Piggot and Grant Piggott were battling closely all the way... Jim Mundy's Tek Kat came in for an adjustment only to find that they'd been DSQ for missing the start finish line.
Over the line first was the Vampire, followed by a clump of F18's, Vipers and the shocking pink Nacra 20C...
The winner of the inaugral Solent Forts Race in his Nacra Infusion F18 was Simon Northrop and Simon Farren - many congratulations to them.
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.