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2020 Solo Offshore Racing Club Lay-up Nab Tower Race

by Nigel Colley 15 Oct 2020 12:40 BST 10 October 2020

Sixteen skippers lined up for the final race of the 2020 SORC season. They were treated to an entertaining and sometimes challenging 30 mile solo race from Cowes to the Nab Tower and back.

Nigel Colley on the Sun Fast 3300 'Fastrak' took line honours, Class 1 and the overall win, while Paul Reymond on his Parker 275 'Oi Oi' took the Class 2 win. Jerry Freeman on his J/105 'Juliette' did enough to take the overall SORC Season Championship.

Paul Reymond reports from 'Oi Oi' at Trafalgar:

From the start at Gurnard, Oi Oi headed into mid-Solent, before heading up towards Horse Sand Fort.The initial Cowes stiff breeze dropped slightly so up with the kite. Upon hoisting, I immediately spotted a spy hole in the top right hand corner of the sail. The breeze soon filled in and built, resulting in a good steady leg to Horse Sand Fort, cutting the corner off, leaving No Man's Land Fort to Port as well. Despite the breeze building the 25mm L shaped spy hole stayed put,so I hardened up towards The Nab.

I was quite happy to see No Man's Land Fort pass without incident. As I feared, hardening up towards The Nab would be the end of my kite run but Oi Oi pushed on and gathered more pace. A few more gusts, but playing the kicker resulted in good progress in the company of a rapidly approaching Fastrak X11.

As I approached New Ground the inevitable big gust came through, swiftly followed by another. Time to save face and drop the Kite quickly! The windward Spinnaker sheet was let fly in the breeze until it reached the stopper knot! Swift amputation of the last 150mm of sheet followed by a tidy retrieval, twixt main and boom... phew!

Onwards to The Nab on white sails, two-and-a-half miles to go by my reckoning. Unfortunately the cockpit now looked not dissimilar to the deck of the Victory at Trafalgar. I swiftly checked for flesh wounds, to find the source of the carnage was in fact a one litre carton of chocolate milk that I'd inadvertently stamped on during the Spinnaker drop. All in front seemed to be getting quite lively approaching The Nab, as several broaches were seen in the distance. I rounded the Nab, and swiftly dropped in 2 reefs and opted for the Island side to keep out of the tide. A hard slog followed back to Cowes chasing Dark Horse via Ryde Sands. Needless to say, I pushed my luck just a little bit too far and kissed the sand for what seemed like an eternity. In actual fact, on checking my plotter, it was only a 3 minutes detour, East!

Dark Horse was still in sight, so Oi Oi pressed on to finish at 17.01 and... relax! A fantastic last race with more highs than lows, and a result of first in class 2.

Thank you to everybody.

Nigel Colley on 'Fastrak XII' reports:

A VMG run from Cowes to No Man's Land Fort, head up for a reach to the Nab Tower and beat all the way back to Cowes against the tide in 15-25 knots in wind was always going to be a "proper" sail and suited to Fastrak which revels in a breeze. Having missed many of the SORC races this season, and possibly my last race of the year before setting off across the Atlantic in the Cap Martinique Race in April 2021, I was keen to put in a good performance. The starting gun went and we were off. Simon Mitchell on "Roxanne" won the start hotly pursued by "Fastrak" and Season Champion Jerry Freeman on "Juliette". "Fastrak" was first to hoist the kite, in my case the A4, and quickly powered off on port gybe towards to mainland shore. I went until I judged I could gybe to make the starboard lay line across the edge of Ryde Sands. A lot of hand steering to sail deep (for an A-Sail boat) ensured I got past Ryde. Then I could head up 20 degrees towards the Nab Tower turning mark, and Fastrak popped her nose up and took off. The chasing Class 1 pack was left behind in my wake as I quickly caught up and made my way through the Class 2 fleet surfing and planning along at speeds up to 16 knots.

The Symmetric boats ahead were struggling and broaching but all was good on Fastrak until we went for the spinnaker drop. Ease the tackline and wait for the Martin Breaker to trigger the tack line shackle and... nothing... the Martin Breaker had snapped and into a broach we go! Crawling forward with the cockpit knife to cut the tack line and, damn, I drop the knife overboard. So, back to the cockpit, wind the tack back down, broach my way round the Nab Tower rather than miss it and pass the wrong side, forward again to spike the tack shackle and then we are able to get the kite down and safe below decks. But by the time I am back under control and sailing upwind properly trimmed, both Roxanne and Juliette had managed to get to windward and ahead of me. With half the race still to go I had my work cut out.

With a foul tide, and further East than I had intended to be after my snarl up, I headed upwind to towards the mainland shore to seek weaker tide before tacking back towards No Man's Land and the Ryde Sands. With full main up and the J3, and able to employ my water ballast, Fastrak was going high and fast. We clawed our way to windward under the lee of Roxanne, forcing her to tack off not to be bothered again by her or Juliette. On closing the Island shore I passed narrowly ahead of Steve Thomas on Azora, who had gone for the Island after the Nab and was rewarded with a lifting breeze. Tacking our way round close to Ryde Sands to stay out of the stronger tide, Fastrak edged ahead to gain enough of a lead to save enough time on handicap. The Norris Nadgers were not as complex as usual, and we managed to cleanly tack our way up to the finish at Trinity.

It was nice to win the last race of the SORC season and the Carbon Pole trophy. Well done to Jerry Freeman for winning the Overall Season Championship and the Inshore Series, and Paul Reymond and John Skipper who won Class 2 and the Class 2 Inshore Series respectively.

Full results can be found at

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