ASTO Small Ships Race 2016

On Friday 30th September, Portsmouth Sail Training Trust joined a large variety of sail training crews and vessels for the ASTO Small Ships Race in Cowes. Our crews from Charter Academy and Trafalgar School sailed ‘Yoda’ (Sigma 38), our largest sail training vessel, over to the Isle of Wight for the weekend event, departing from Gunwharf Quays soon after they finished school. On arrival at Cowes, we were greeted by a mixture of familiar faces, including Jolie Brise and Merrilyn, and also new faces amongst the 25 sail training vessels attending the event. On arrival we were also treated with a box of cupcakes made by TS Vigilant.

On the Saturday morning we were up bright and early in preparation to compete for the best dressed boat in the “Parade of Sail”. This included dressing the crew up in fancy dress attire and dressing the boat in flags to appear as the ‘most fun’ sail training boat to sponsors at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes seafront. An hour later, we joined other sail training vessels on the start line to begin the 4-hour race across the Eastern Solent. Our race began from squadron line, outside cowes, past No Man’s Land Fort and back to Cowes.

After a forecast expecting 15 knots of wind with gusts of up to 30 knots, we were disappointed with our slow start, a breeze of no more than 5 knots and terrestrial rain. However, after the rain had passed, we were blessed with blue skies and increasing winds, meeting the expectations of the weather forecast, taking us on a downwind leg towards our first mark. After rounding the down wind mark we made the decision to downsize the foresail to regain more control upwind towards the finish line. The weather was a bit temper-mental, including occasional showers, wind shifts and big gusts. Our crew worked extremely hard to get us second over the line in our class.

In the evening, our crew had the opportunity to socialize with the other sail training crews at the prize giving ceremony and party in Cowes Yacht Haven. Knowing that we came 2nd over the line in the race during the day, we were eager to find out our overall position after the handicap had been calculated. We were so excited to find out that we had received a prize for coming 1st in our class and 2nd overall in the race, losing to Jolie Brise by just 4 minutes! Our crew then celebrated by getting on the dance floor and showing off some of their moves to everyone else.

The following day was not such an early start, as for the late night before but it was a very easy sail back, going down wind and with the tide back to Portsmouth.

We had a brilliant time and we are so proud of our crew for working so hard to achieve a great result. Well done to Kacey-Ellen, Elinor, Kaya, Luke, Maryam, Zia and Declan. Lets work hard to get an even better result next year!

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