RIOW Solo 2008

John White i X-37 SX Girl vann stora klassen när Petit Bateau seglade solo runt Isle of Wight. Alla bilder: Rudi Polednik

The annual single handed race around the Isle of Wight; RIOW Solo, was won in record time by newcomer John White in his X37 SX Girl, setting a course best time of 8hours 36 minutes to win the overall, the class one and the IRC prizes. Second boat home, just 3 and half minutes behind was another RIOW rookie, Andy Greenwood in his new Figaro 2, winning open class 2 at his first attempt. Peter Olden was very fast in the light conditions to take class – 3 and third place in IRC in his Solan Goose ( J92S) and Simon Forbes raced Scooby to win the multi class for the second year running.

35 yachts chugged out from Shepards Wharf in Cowes for the start of this 4th edition at first light of dawn on Saturday to find an encouraging 8 knots of breeze from the south sou’west for the first start at 0600. Close hauled on port tack, the fleet found the best conditions on the island shore with a few holes in the wind to frustrate the less fortunate as usual. The fleet headed upwind for the Yarmouth, initially in light winds which built to a good twelve knots past Hampstead, with those close on island shore gaining most. Boats offshore had to tack south to rediscover the best breeze and a huge hole at Hurst Castle allowed the fleet to bunch together providing exciting close racing. The majority cleared the Needles on the last of the ebb on the edge of the Shingle bank, first boat to round the Needles was SX Girl, closely followed by Mike Moxley in Malice (Hod 35) and Rob Craigie in Jbellino (J/122)

The lead group parked up at St Cats and a significant reshuffle took place, Jbellino briefely retaking the lead offshore in the drifting match only to have SX Girl pass close under the cliffs at Dunnose on a spinnaker reach . Perhaps the closest battle of the day was between the five J105’s racing, with all five boats within hailing distance of each other. At Saint Catherine’s it became closer still as the wind died leaving the boats bereft of movement with all five J105s within a few hundred meters of each other. Simon Curwen onboard Voador chose the offshore option in search of breeze, whereas Rob Dornton-Duff aboard Java and Oscar Mead aboard Juneau chose the inshore option which paid handsomely. Race director Paul Peggs made a good break to get Audacious (JOD35) up to second spot as the leaders rounded Benbridge Ledge Buoy, the order was SX Girl, Audacious, Green Figaro, Ding Dong (Chris Rustom, Stuart 37), Catriona (Rory Carter, Dehler37), Jbellino.

The fickle 8 to 10 knots of breeze backed further to the south east making almost a dead run to the No Mans Fort which saw the sprit boats gybing for their lives and the conventional spinnaker on the Figaro 2 paid as Andy Greenwood moved up to take second place at the Fort which he held to the finish.

The wind came ahead on the last leg to the finish at Prince Consort buoy just east of Cowes harbour with all the first boats finishing close hauled under white sails having carried the tide the whole way around the island for the first time in the race’s short history and almost in time for a late lunch!

Most encouraging was the host of new, some young, skippers taking part in RIOW Solo for the first time; Katie Miller helmed her Figaro 2 ‘Hot Sox’ for their first race as a team and was very pleased to be dualling with the veterans . Oscar Mead raced his first solo in Juneau the J105 and crossed the line second of the J105’s ahead of several top skippers.

Awards for persistance go the late finishers who stuck to their task through a complete glassy calm in the late afternoon to complete the course and collect their trophies, Keith Willis won the class mini in Rattle and Hum and Roderick Walker in Tinkerbell (F27) who was second in the multi’s.

Special thanks to the start box team led by OOD Charles Allen who were on duty by 0530 in the JOG box at Egypt Point with just enough daylight to see the sail numbers and check life jackets in the sail through; Karen and Angie timing and Rudi and Frank manning the signals pole. The Island Sailing Club provided the hospitality in their splendid club house and competitors enjoyed supper there on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Two RIBs, driven by Stuart Campbell and Mark Lamble, laden with photographers pursued the fleet around the course so there should be a surfeit of excellent shots on the web site later this week.

The RIOW Solo is organised by Racing at Petit Bateau and is the first of this year’s new Solent Solo Series of 4 fun size day races aimed at encouraging skippers who wish to try single handed racing, perhaps for the first time. The next is on Sunday 17th August, the day after the RSYC Nab Tower race.

Over 20 experienced single -handers have already entered for the bluQube Solo 1000 which starts from Mylor( Falmouth) on June 29th and visits Kinsale in Ireland, Santander in Spain and finishes in Camaret, France 2 weeks later.

Jerry Freeman and Oscar Mead.’ti bateau press