The thrill of Cowes Week came alive once again as the Knowall Sailing Team took to the waters. Join us as we recount the triumphs and trials of our unforgettable journey. From battling the elements to outmanoeuvring competitors, our team’s camaraderie and determination made this sailing saga one for the books.
A choppy day out on the water, we lost a man to sickness but it didn’t deter us from first place. The prevailing SW’ly wind was a bit flukey towards the island but out on the water we were getting some clean air. With gusts of 25knts in places we were definitely reefed.
Rounding the first mark got a bit hairy with the stronger than expected tide dragging us out, allowing a competitor to nip around before us. They struggled to catch some wind on the downwind leg as we shot past them. An easy second mark with few competitors in sight had us thinking we’d lost the pack but we soon caught sight of them still on the previous leg as we were racing for a podium position. The tactic of stealing the leading boat’s air worked, allowing us to gain precious minutes on the final run giving us a corrected time of 1:56:38, 1st place.
The sail trimming and helming was on point and we were able to eke out every knot the boat was capable of, well done all. We managed to get on the inside of the raft, a rare treat.
Expecting wind speeds of 25knts, gusting to 30knts, the racing committee took the difficult decision to abandon all races. There was some disagreement in the Knowall team as to whether this was the right choice.
With the prospect of a rainy day stuck inside we left for a quick walk down to Newtown. The coastal walk gave us beautiful views of the Solent, 2hrs 30mins of trying to keep pace with Vlad left us all a bit tired for the rest of the day.
We recharged our batteries at the Royal Yacht Squadron cocktail party, Michael had one too many glasses of Champagne, and got an early night hoping for another day of sailing.
The cold front in the morning cleared the rain for our start although the break didn’t last long. Another windy day with starting winds of 14-18KT and gusts of 21-26KT calming down to 20-24KT later in the day. The Knowall team had a few debates about what to do on the downwind leg as we were on the cusp of spinnaker weather but in the end, we decided it was best to err on the side of caution. Much of the day was wind over tide giving some choppy water. Our lucky charm had recovered from a bout of sea sickness after yesterdays forced rest day, giving us a full complement on board. With the crew working in unison and giving us another smashing victory, our first place took just 1:36:38 (corrected).
The crew were questioning whether we were at the right start line when we crossed alongside 1 other boat, many in the class taking longer giving us a bonus head start. An easy first two marks allowed us to open up a solid lead with our closest competitor, Salty Sailing, a distant second. Our downwind course south of Bramble Bank got us out the worst of the tide, a course the entire fleet decided to take. After heading towards the wrong mark we lost some ground to Salty Sailing and the race was on. Near our Breakwater finish we got caught amongst a fleet of smaller boats and one giant tanker gave us some dirty air and a tricky finish. However, we kept our lead with a surprise second place to C’est Si Bon, and Salty Sailing ending the day in fifth.
Another great day sailing, another hard-earned first place. Spinnaker start tomorrow.
Day 4 in Cowes proved to be a banger. The Weekend Warriors were out, and the hardcore crews were in. A ridge of high pressure bringing in a strong westerly wind (18-22KT) was forecast to break up the cloud cover allowing temperatures to rise over land bringing in a thermal enhancement around midday.
The Knowall Team started the day feeling nervous but excited, with the pressure to continue our winning streak ever in the background. A minor incident pulling out the pontoon didn’t help to calm the nerves, but we were soon out on the water and ready to practice some spinnaker runs in anticipation of a long downwind start heading east. We got the spinnaker up and down flawlessly and headed to the start.
Our competitors had upped their game, and a few were even quicker off the start. The crew were unsure of our decision to break away from the pack and head north instead of following the island to the east, but ultimately I stand by the decision. The calmer wind proved elusive with gusts still reaching 25KT out in the cleaner air, no spinnaker today. We got to the first mark in third, against a couple of much faster boats, before a spanking upwind leg got us around the next mark in pole position. The boat was clearly overpowered over the next few legs, we should have reefed the main when we had a chance, but we kept pace with the faster boats. Unfortunately, a corrected finishing time of 1:41:42 placed us third, narrowly missing out on second (1:41:24) and first (1:40:38).
Overall, some small mistakes cost us the victory but gives us something to improve next time, well done!
Day 5 was again canceled due to the persistent high winds. Nevertheless, Team Knowall’s indomitable spirit remained undeterred. We chose to embrace the situation and embarked on a new adventure by renting bikes to explore the captivating trails and landscapes of the island.
Initially, the atmosphere was brimming with joy and enthusiasm. However, a sudden twist occurred as our path diverted off the trail, leading us up what seemed to be a desiccated riverbed. At this point, a few of us felt a pang of regret for not opting for e-bikes, wishing we could turn back time.
Despite these challenges, we pressed on valiantly, surmounting obstacles such as barbed wire fences, stinging nettles, and the persistent rain. Eventually, we reached a juncture where we decided to locate the nearest road, navigating through whatever terrain lay before us, all in search of a welcoming pub or eatery to rejuvenate ourselves.
The day, though arduous, turned out to be an exhilarating blend of trials and triumphs, leaving us with lasting memories of our adventure.