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Starling – Tacking with America’s Cup Efficiency!

Posted in : Starling

‘It’s been a while since you last sailed,’ said Bruce. ‘Why not ease back into things with a gentle coastal trip?’
His words came back to me yesterday as Chris, Alex and I disappeared into a wall of water on the foredeck as we struggled to gather in the brand-new headsails. We were nearing the end of an eight hour day beating into a Force Six. We left Cowes in bright, breezy sunshine and headed for the Hurst Narrows and the Needles Channel. To add to the fun, the spring tide was adding an extra five knots to our speed into the wind. Our first tack was somewhat ragged, our second a fraction better. Three, four and five followed in rapid succession and we began to resemble the well-oiled crew we knew we could be. By tack fifteen we were close to America’s Cup crew efficiency. The wind strengthened, the beat across to Poole grew lumpier and murkier. Navy planes began circling, no doubt impressed by our winch work. SBS boats blasted past us just to stop us getting too big-headed. The tack count reached twenty five as the entrance to Swash Channel finally loomed out of the gloom. We made our way in as the rain began falling in earnest. With the boat put to bed, the crew shed their damp – or in some cases sodden – clothes and changed into their shore-going rig. Always amazing how the rigours of a hard day melt away with a big meal, a few drinks and much laughter. Nevertheless, the whole crew agreed that there was no shame in a rest day in port today before a madcap dash across the Channel tomorrow. Thanks for the travel advice, Bruce. Not what I’d call ‘easing back into sailing’ but a great trip nonetheless.