JOG Race Report: Raymarine Lonely Tower

The Junior Offshore Group (or JOG, for short) 2023 racing season kicked off in March, with 100 participants batting the windy conditions (and other teams) in the Solent – Will Prest, Stoneways’ Director & Underwriter shares his full race recap:


Raymarine Lonely Tower
Following the weather briefing on Friday evening, Rich and I knew that Saturday was going to bring a lot of wind. On the way out to the start line, we discussed our approach to the race, and having only sailed once in the last six months, we decided to pursue a conservative strategy in terms of sail selection. We hoisted the main with one reef and rigged the number 3 headsail and decided not to rig the S4 spinnaker for the start.

With the strong flood tide and W wind, we positioned ourselves to start near Gurnard cardinal, thinking that other people would be more conservative and start further offshore, this appeared to work and we had plenty of space for our run in for the start, crossing the line in third behind Jetpack and Frank3. Both Jetpack and Frank3 launched spinnakers and we decided that we needed to as well. Despite the wind strength this went quite well, and we had a cracking sail down to the forts, only broaching once and overhauling both Frank3 and Jetpack.

Dropping the kite and rounding the fort, we headed towards the Nab Tower, expecting a slightly easier time of it, but found that leg in many ways more challenging that the kite run. The wind was stronger and sea state was far worse, resulting in quite a bumpy ride. During the leg we got to enjoy the spectacle of two Sunfast 3200s storming the leg with full mains and A sails hoisted, before both wiping out. Nearing the Nab Tower, we positioned ourselves for a rounding in relatively clear water and then gybed at the mark and headed towards Winner. The leg was tighter on the wind that I had expected and with the sea state and wind strength, made for a very wet time.

Rounding Winner, we discussed when to head out in to deeper water, and probably called it a bit early. Rounding close to Horse Sand Fort, we stayed relatively to the N of the course, and spent a lot of time wondering if we were gaining or losing from doing this.

Eventually we decided to tack towards the Island side and lining up for the finish, the wind really filled in. With the tide running under us, the apparent wind was above 40 kts and we had trouble tacking and pointing to get across the line in good order. Ultimately we made and then enjoyed what seemed like an easy sail home in 25 kts of wind. We managed to get 3rd in Class 3 and 2nd in the double handed and were pleased with how well the boat handled in the breeze, especially as we were both so out of practice. With the wind forecast to be much lighter on the Sunday, we headed to the Royal Southern for a few refreshers, before enjoying a curry with the crew of Jacana. Shortly after arriving back at the boat it started to rain, and did not stop all night. A sign of things to come perhaps…

MDL Marinas Great Escape
The rain of Saturday night did eventually stop, and we set off towards the start line with higher hopes for the weather than the day before. The Solent seemed very still and we suspected that there would be a red flag course. We were not disappointed and ultimately the course chosen by Martin the racing secretary was a very good one, starting with the tide, round HYS, down to the forts, round Bembridge Ledge and back again. We hoisted the main and number 1 headsail and positioned ourselves to start near Gurnard cardinal. In close company with Jetpack we rounded Prince Consort and headed towards HYS. There were plenty of opportunities for gains and loses on this leg, and we seemed to lose more than gain. We rounded HYS and hoisted the S2. As Jetpack had chosen to fly a Code 0, we were able to pull out on them, but ended up in our own private wind hole and they caught us up again. The run from the forts to Bembridge was very pleasant, and after a beat back to the forts we settled in for a reach to the finish. Some boats around decided to hoist Code 0s, but we thought it was a little tight to do this and stuck to our headsail. As we closed in on the finish, a squall came through and brought more wind and we screamed across the finish, ending up in 4th in Class 3 and 5th in double handed.

It had been a great opening weekend for JOG, with a big turnout despite the forecast and Rich and I are looking forward to the Exposure OLAS Cowers-Cherbourg race in a few weeks’ time.


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Image credit: With thanks to Paul Wyeth /

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