ASTO Cowes Small Ships Race, despite light winds

By | October 9, 2019

Pegasus, Donald Searle, Maybe and Johanna Lucretia at the mark during the ASTO Cowes Small Ships Race. Photo © ASTO – Max Mudie

Given that the remains of Storm Lorenzo were evident both before and after this race, it was always going to be a choice of too much wind or none at all, so the race committee of ASTO (Gosport-based charity, the Association of Sail Training Organisations) let the tide do the work in the Small Ships Race on Saturday 5th October.

Three different classes raced, and their starts at 10-minute intervals allowed for big, wooden classics like Maybe (90 years old this year) and Jolie Brise to compete against smaller, GRP yachts. The fleet of 24 stayed pretty well grouped together with the exception of Jolie Brise who went more North Solent.

Despite the glassy waters of the Solent and empty sails, the sailors themselves remained cheerful, Mexican waving and singing for the committee on the RYS platform.

Slowly, a hint of a breeze started to gently fill the sails and crews went from idle to active, as skippers and mates decided what sail combinations would work best.

Still together by the time they got down to NE Ryde Middle buoy, the furthest race mark before the fleet headed back to Cowes, even more seamanship was needed to clear the mark without fouling it or any of the other competitors.

At the finish line there was some racing to be had. Jolie Brise quietly overhauled by new entrants the Ballard School from New Milton in their Contessa 33 High Spirit to be first over the line, followed by Greig City Academy (from Tottenham) in Scaramouche. As the rest of the fleet made it back, some looked like they might cross the line stern first with Rona Sailing Project ketches Rona II and Donald Searle doing so within mere seconds of each other.

The overall winner was Jolie Brise who also won class B, with wins for Rona II in class C1 and Bright Star from the Morning Star Trust in class C2. High Spirit won class D, and the Richard Langhorn trophy, for the ‘Spirit of the Race’, was won by City of London.

Story by Max Mudie for ASTO