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Battling vagaries of weather
FORTY boats took part in the first two offshore Weymouth Double Races – and the conditions were like chalk and cheese.
Leg one of the double-handed series event took place from the Solent to Weymouth.
Despite fears that the wind might be too light, everyone got away on time in a SW breeze of around eight knots.
Classes two and four started together at 7.35pm and classes one and three got away 10 minutes later.
One of the clinchers in this race was always going to be whether there would be enough wind to get out of the Solent before the tide turned between 10pm and 11pm.
With the breeze steadily declining it proved to be a very close call.
Some of those who made it into Christchurch Bay managed to keep going slowly in more or less the right direction but others found themselves in holes and had to kedge until the breeze slowly started to fill in from the N or NNE.
Rare was the first boat to pick up the new breeze and by around 3am most were underway again with kites up.
As dawn approached the breeze continued to build and move between N and NE but most held onto their kites to the finish line.
Leg two from Weymouth to the Solent saw a contrasting forecast of a 15 to 20 knot northerly breeze.
The starting order was once again classes two and four, followed by one and three and all were away cleanly and on time. Although cold, the port tack along the Jurassic coast was sunny and clear and the sea was slight.
At St Alban’s, the wind became gustier and the sea was choppy, once round Durlston Head and into Christchurch Bay the swell was more pronounced and the gradient slowly built.
The fleet split between the Needles and the North Channel. The strongest winds of the day were reserved for the western Solent where those who had hoped for a respite in the last 10 miles to the finish were disappointed by the force six to seven apparent winds.