Spring Excuse Report


11 members’ yachts were booked in for the annual Spring Excuse to compete for the prestigious Festival of Britain Cup, which began with an informal supper on the upper deck of the Island Sailing Club.
The forecast was for southerly 16 knots gusting 30 knots so the CSO set a course starting off West Ryde Middle that zig zagged from north to south to give plenty of beats and runs with the aim of ending up in Lymington, after a 2 hour race starting at a cruiser friendly time of midday. In the event 9 yachts braved the start line and it was clear that this was going to be a very competitive fleet with a hotly contested start line.
Roderick Walkers trimaran Tinkerbell took off and it looked like the rest of the fleet would not see her again. However as the breeze built (the CSO recorded 36 knots off Royal Thames) the mono hulls began to catch her up. Brian Smullen’s beautiful 55 ft McGruer ketch showed that she was built to cope with these conditions, with Brian reporting over 10 knots of hull speed. Captain of Racing Richard Hill’s Maxi 1100 Kirima, helmed by William Edwards, had an extremely close battle with William’s own J/109 Sardonyx, helmed by Warren McCandless and crewed by a group of younger members who had not sailed together before. These two finished 16 seconds apart after 2 hours of racing just behind Cuilaun.
However it was Polar Bear III – a Baltic 43 - owned by a new member John Westlake and crewed by, et al, John McMonigall, that had clearly studied their tidal flow charts. They quickly beat up to the island shore where the west flowing tide was strongest and managed to use the traditional wind bend on that shore to pull ahead of all the rest finishing second behind Tinkerbell.
Tradewinds helmed by Tom Dyke and low on crew sadly missed the tide gate and so ended up an hour after the preceeding yacht –such is yacht racing.
The other yachts, for a number of sensible reasons, decided to reach off for Lymington in the building breeze which would have over powered many lesser mortals.
As a change from the use of the traditional “Cumberland numbers” the CSO used the published RYA National Handicap for Cruisers which lists all the participants yachts except for Tinkerbell and Cuilaun for which their rating was estimated based on the nearest similar yacht.

Tinkerbell 1hr 54 6 secs    1.100 2hrs 9 mins. 7 secs                      2
Polar Bear III 2 hrs 1 min 12 secs 1.025  2hrs  4 mins 12 secs                   1
Cuilaun             2 hrs 14 mins 20 secs          1.00 2hrs 14 mins 20 secs                    4
Kirima                  2 hrs 16 mins 30 secs          .967 2hrs 12 mins  20 secs                      3
Sardonyx            2 hrs 16 mins 46 secs         .989 2 hrs 15 mins 25 secs                       5
Tradewinds        3 hrs 20 mins  0 secs           .930 3 hrs  6 mins          6

Thus by a narrow margin Polar Bear III is awarded the Festival of Britain Cup 2014 with Tinkerbell as the runner up and Cuilaun won the best turned out boat with her beautiful brightwork.
No less than 66 members enjoyed a delicious meal at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club accompanied by jazz players and a brain teasing quiz devised by David Hiscock.
On Sunday the yachts departed for home ports on the flooding tide.