Hailing "We Are Racing", in the Solent

Robin

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Many many years ago and after years of dinghy racing, mainly inland then, I decided to avoid the Solent completely during Cowes week.
Even back then I disliked (couldn't see the point of) racing round the cans and even at club level stuck to passage races, however short, that actually ended up somewhere different with a different brewery at least.

Now older (much) and out of saily boats and racing I think that avoiding the Solent completely during Cowes week would still be the most sensible policy for normal boaters to follow. Whilst years of experience gives me some understanding of the racing fraternity mindset and their wish for total water world domination, at least enough to keep out of their way most of the time I can nevertheless understand why other mere mortals might occasionally up the racer's miffed levels I certainly pity that small French visiting yacht , possibly more concerned with matters pilotage and definitely feel for the commercial shipping officers with problems of their own to resolve.

Life is too short so peace and Tolerance rules OK??:love::love::love:
 

Praxinoscope

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I would have thought it was simply good manners for non-racers to avoid the start line for the few minutes that countdown and start of a race, if at all possible.
 

creeks

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Boats that are racing can behave selfishly too. I once witnessed during a Cowes Week many years ago Class 1, who had been sent east against an easterly and with a west going tide, with no inshore limit mark, standing right into Cowes harbour and through the X one-design moorings.
Some of them, and one in particular, made little attempt to avoid the moored X's and several X's were damaged to the extent that they were unable to race for the rest of the week. It was quite shocking to witness the sheer disregard for others that the culprits displayed.
Anyone else remember this incident? I believe it was the last time that a course was set allowing boats to take a course through the harbour.
 

graham

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Many years ago the small club I was a member of held our annual regatta race using the navigation buoys around Cardiff as marks.

By coincidence a larger club was racing around one of the buoys we used but in the opposite direction!

Amazingly no collisions occured despite our motley collection of boats meeting the mostly much larger boats from the other club rounding the mark at the same time .
 

Robin

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Returning from Cowes to Poole after a club race (which AIRC we won ) one weekend many years back we encountered really thick fog. Skilful navigation (this was pre fancy electronics) got us through Hurst and up to N head buoy and we set off west for Poole and home only to encounter a fleet of several classes of acing dinghies out of Christchurch SC coming head on out of the fog apparently to said N Head buoy as a mark of their course We were yelled at angrily by a few of the backmarker dinghy racers but stood our ground , followed Colregs properly and later safely emerged from the fog bank into clear air just off the Looe channel inner short cut into Poole and our home mooring. PHEW....:eek:

PS. aren't modern plotters and radar wonderful. That said when entering L'Aberwrac'h in thick fog years later and fully using these aids we encountered a race fleet of French Hobie cats from the local sailing school tacking upwind towards us, very difficult to interpret on the radar whilst trying to stay in the channel with it's strong cross tides though the reefs. AIRC we were sailing dead downwind under just the genoa having dropped our main when still out in clear waters when a suitable opportunity had arisen. Oddly enough I miss those days with their challenges.:whistle:
 

Laser_310

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If anything the Skipper of this boat that bimbled around then motored across the startline going the wrong way is a worse offender - imho. What on earth were they thinking? :unsure:
(Around 1hr 19min into the video at Cowes Week Day 6 - from Cowes Week 2022 )
:eek:
Edit: I assume they were motoring, although there is no sign of a motoring cone.:rolleyes:
View attachment 140127
i think that's an RM - nice boats.., and usually owned by pretty knowledgeable sailors

apparently a lot of vendee globe sailors own them as their personal cruising yacht - i recently had a tour of an RM by a retired vendee globe sailor.
 

Channel Sailor

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I would have thought it was simply good manners for non-racers to avoid the start line for the few minutes that countdown and start of a race, if at all possible.
Reference the “if at all possible“ above. As a racer and a cruiser and a Solent sailor, the start lines off Cowes has a particular challenges for me transiting the area but not racing. Hypothecially:-

if going from the eastern Solent to the western Solent or the other way, then then most direct route is fairly close in through an area bounded by Gunard, Prince Consort, No 1 and No 2 fairway buoys. When approaching this area for me the first check is channel 12 for information on transiting large vessels, next is to look up Southampton water and peer down the eastern Solent to look for approaching large vessels. If it is quiet for shipping and your boat is fairly manoeuvrable then one could choose to go into the Precautionary Area, but selecting a route where one can get out the way if needs be.

On the VHF radio I would be monitoring Chan 16 and 12. Not M1 and M2. I may not know which days Cowes week is on. Some sailors may not have sailed in this area before.

Next to consider is are you tight for time with your passage, do you have a tidal gate to make, do you have a drying mooring or entrance to get to, are you passengers/children in need of the shortest possible passage to get to where you are going.

Then there is the tide. Do you need the strong deep water east or west going tide to get you on your way to Hurst, Bembridge ledge, or somewhere else. Or is the tide generally against you so you need to find the close in shore back eddy, otherwise you could be hazard stationary or even sailing backwards for a while.

Next is the wind and expected sea state. One could be going east with a big downwind sail up, (instead of lolling about with a flapping genoa), what course is good for a comfy and productive ride past the headland and can you vary this course easily a little if needs be for small course changes.

All of the above is done from some distance from the start line area. The passage plan is adjusted to suit the above and the boat positioned early for that choosen optimal route. But then as one approaches from a few miles away a skipper would notice it is not just busy off Cowes, something else is going on. Busy off Cowes is normal in the summer anyway, so maybe not sure yet. If the usual club racing then usually Solent sailors can handle that often, where the starts are often on the edge of Bramble or Hillhead areas. So no concerns when a few miles off as it just looks busy, but meanwhile the skipper is more concerned with avoiding large vessels and if necessary the Precautionary area, plus making good speed and comfy progress for all on board.

As one gets closer (2 miles or less) one sees it is a race going on, one sees maybe start line buoys and committee boats. Ah, I will have to negotiate this. I am not going way out of my way on foul tide or wind and I definitely do not want increase any risks while/if transiting the Precautionary area. I can guess at the start line, but I don’t know the course and I may not even be able to work out which way the start is going. It is so crowded ahead that I may have had to choose to take down the downwind sail so we can manoeuvre more easily. So I have already lost speed on my passage and will not be able to get out of the precautionary re so quickly. If I am on a decent tide then I have 2kts or more under me through the start area locality and I have lost boat speed to be more agile. I am now looking into Cowes harbour for any ferries departing and looking north noting what ferry traffic is coming south. If I am very close in by the fairway buoys I am thinking can I scrub enough speed on the tide to avoid a ferry exiting the fairway. Oh and I could have just noticed two car carrier ships are crossing by Norris and I might have noticed a large sand dredger has decided to go into the western Solent, across my path, to anchor in Thorness Bay. There is a lot to consider before even considering the needs of a racing fleet.

Meanwhile I could be on Starboard tack. There appears to sail boats racing and plenty that are not racing. I don’t know the start time. I notice around me course changes for normal collision avoidance are being made at quite short notice. I cannot alway see and may not have time to look at all the flags in what could be a race fleet. BTW I often do not fly an ensign when out for a short potter in the Solent. I choose not to turn onto reach to head into the Precautionary Area which would take me way off my course towards Lee Spit or Bramble Bank. I don’t know where the fleet is going after the start. I am close or amongst what could be the race fleet. I need other yachts/vessels to be predicable with their collision avaidance, No close dips behinds on my transom thank you, unless I can see the eyes on helm on the other boat. If need to stand on, then I will stand on. It could be dangerous if I unexpectedly gave way to a Port Tack yacht, if they are about to do the same thing. If my yacht is faster or much slower than the fleet then it Is less of a problem, if same speed then I could choose to slow down just a little to let them pass, where the overtaking boats are no longer stand on, resulting in all of them having the same disadvantage in the race.

I am now close enough to work out what is happening on the water for the race. If able then I modify my course a little to avoid sailing through an active start line, though I may not be able to because the tide is ripping through and my apparent wind has dropped. I try to choose a course that my guess is will not be in the way when the fleet makes its first tack.

I could be a new Day Skipper on a charter yacht just out from the Hamble. I might know the basic regs so can stay it of trouble, but by accident has ended up in a race fleet. Overwhelmed maybe, but still safe enough to operate the collision avoidance as per the regs. We all started somewhere.

But being a racer myself I know that encountering Cruisers (or vessel fishing, vessel constrained by draft etc.) is a normal part of racing, so if a cruiser moves out of the way when they are not expected to, then it is just good fortune , surprising and quite unexpected.

I suppose i am saying, I could well end up sailing through a race fleet, because that is my proper course which was chosen with care. If ended up sailing though a start line at a critical time, then it was because it was unreasonable for me to avoid it (think Chi harbour river busy narrow channel and dinghy start lines). As a race skipper, if I came across a cruiser or indeed any other vessel that was going though a start line, a finish line or indeed anywhere else on a course, then to me it is just part of the race to handle that situation. It would not spoil my day and if it affected my results( positive or negative),then it is just one of those things that happens.

Having been a RO a few times as well, the race start can always be postponed by 15 mins or so. This too is normal practice, particularly in localities where large ships transit the start area or first leg of the course. For crews, skippers and tacticians, being able to handle a short delay on a start Is all part of racing skilfully. A little like F1 motor racing, how a team handles a Safety Car incident can be the difference between 1st place or 6th.
 

Channel Sailor

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BTW I was out for a day sail in the Solent yesterday and specifically choose to go further, East to Nab Tower and back. The reason being I wanted to do some spinnaker practice and decided it would be best to stay away from the central Solent to avoid any Cowes week fleets (If there was racing yesterday). I suspect race crews would not necessarily be aware that at least one cruiser chose to leave the racing playground for others to have space to play in.

Maybe, for each vessel that was perceived to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in race fleet, there were 100 yachts that were able to make the choice to stay well out the way.
 

Birdseye

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To achieve Stand On priority (contrary to RRS) , is there ever an occasion when it is reasonable for a race yacht needs to hail "we are racing" to a cruising yacht?
Of course. All the time. After all a cruiser who has good manners and is not trying to get somewhere in a very tight time schedule will always try to be helpful to another sailor, even if he has right of way.
 

Praxinoscope

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#91 Channel Sailor, Your explanation bears out my contention ‘if at all possible’ there will be numerous times when it may not be possible and you have detailed several of them, my point is that if you can avoid the start line during the countdown it would be courteous to, but it may be that you can’t, so coming from the view of one who used to race a lot, now cruise a lot and also act as OOD, then you have every right to carry on but just be a lot more aware of what is happening around you.
 

Chiara’s slave

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#91 Channel Sailor, Your explanation bears out my contention ‘if at all possible’ there will be numerous times when it may not be possible and you have detailed several of them, my point is that if you can avoid the start line during the countdown it would be courteous to, but it may be that you can’t, so coming from the view of one who used to race a lot, now cruise a lot and also act as OOD, then you have every right to carry on but just be a lot more aware of what is happening around you.
The best course of action is usually straightforward when you’re there. If you’ve got 43 XODs hammering upwind on starboard towards you, you’re going to be looking to Scottie to beam you up anyway.😄 If there’s 6 mixed fleet cruiser/racers and a reaching start, then fill and stand on. Just make the call, do it early so racers can see what you’re doing, and 99% of the time, the sailing world will remain a happy place.
 

creeks

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And true to form, a cruiser went through the RYS start line today (in the wrong direction) 35 seconds before the Victory class start. That’s a crass move, the tide was pretty slack, in fact probably turned against him on the island shore. If the owner is a member here, why didn’t you go outside the pin end, 40 metres to your port side?
My sympathies actually lie with the Frenchman. On watching the video again it's clear that as soon as he realised his error he sailed the best possible course to avoid the starting boats which were in fact Solent Sunbeams and not Victorys as stated in the above post. Must be confusing, all these X's, V's, and Z's🙂.
Maybe he thought the outer limit mark was the inner limit mark? A genuine error perhaps, like not knowing one Solent dayboat class from another🙂🙂.
Anyway the next Cowes Week isn't in Cowes so perhaps these issues won't arise at that one.
 

SaltIre

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My sympathies actually lie with the Frenchman. On watching the video again it's clear that as soon as he realised his error he sailed the best possible course to avoid the starting boats which were in fact Solent Sunbeams and not Victorys as stated in the above post. Must be confusing, all these X's, V's, and Z's🙂.
Maybe he thought the outer limit mark was the inner limit mark? A genuine error perhaps, like not knowing one Solent dayboat class from another🙂🙂.
Anyway the next Cowes Week isn't in Cowes so perhaps these issues won't arise at that one.
Agreed. If they were to paint a white line on the water like the one in the video it would be more obvious that it's something important.:)
 

scottie

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The best course of action is usually straightforward when you’re there. If you’ve got 43 XODs hammering upwind on starboard towards you, you’re going to be looking to Scottie to beam you up anyway.😄 If there’s 6 mixed fleet cruiser/racers and a reaching start, then fill and stand on. Just make the call, do it early so racers can see what you’re doing, and 99% of the time, the sailing world will remain a happy place.
Sorry can’t help
 
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