The Tiger Trophy Challenge, the last of the GJW Sailjuice winter series, took place on the 6th and 7th February at Rutland Water, superbly hosted by Rutland Sailing Club. Three National 18s were in attendance; Panther (406), the Irish (347), and Hurricane (401). There were 130 entries in total. I was fortunate enough to bag a ride on Hurricane, helmed by Ollie Houseman.
Early Saturday morning the wind looked promising but picked up pace quickly, eventually reaching 60 knots. Needless to say the N18ers, in the interest of not wanting to break their new Ultras, decided not to race. A good number of participants did get out on the water but their adventures were short lived culminating in broken masts, booms and countless capsizes, which kept the rescue crew on their toes! Eventually racing was cancelled for the day, in part because the committee boat anchor would not hold in that wind and those waves.
Come Sunday morning the wind was blowing up to 35 knots and a decision was taken to run the previous day’s handicap races instead of the scheduled pursuit race. Finally, the race was on!
The first race seemed to be over in a blind flash. I say blind because the spray breaking over the bow as we pushed through the waves was relentless. Julie, on the wire, and me as middle man were getting acquainted with Hurricane and the directions coming from the helm. Julie was also getting a good few dunks in the pond when the wind dropped. We soon got used to the boat providing the helm with a reasonable level of support. 58th was our finishing position. Panther and the Irish retired and also sat out the next two races.
After a quick comfort break we were straight into the second race. Full of adrenaline and a strong will to perform better than the last race we set off successfully. The wind had picked up and the gusts kept coming. Once again the spray was relentless but this race felt much more controlled and we picked up some serious speed on the fast leg; the wind and speed cause the boat to hum at an almost hypnotic tone adding to the exhilarating experience. We had clearly improved from the last run, finishing 43rd.
Tired, exhausted but raring to go we made a great start on the third race only to be held up by an RS400. Fortunately by this point a number of boats had retired so there was more water to sail as we all dispersed around the course. All was going well when we rounded the mark, wind coming over starboard shifting aft as we went around, weight back and out we though we had it nailed but then came a strong gust pushing us to the point of no return and over we went. Needless to say this race was discarded. Overall we came a respectable 57th but, more importantly, had an absolutely amazing time in the Ultra.
Experience the thrill of sailing an Ultra by taking out the club boat, Odyssey. A donation of £20 toward her maintenance is requested and she can be booked using the calendar on the N18 notice board or by contacting Michael Vasey on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07860 214489.