Round the Island Race

Southerly 38 - "Secret Agent... Licenced to Thrill"

When Gill and I first saw the plans for the 38 we were overjoyed. At last the Southerly we had been waiting for, not too big for our experience, a good looking cruising boat but deep down a racer!

We have sailed all our lives in dinghies and catamarans, catamarans being our first love. However they just do not work over 20 feet in length (hence the Southerly, the best of all worlds). Nationally and Internationally Gill and I were successful in Dart 18 cats for over 20 years, always in the top ten culminating in winning the World Veterans Title in 2003 in Portugal. 

We have always wanted to do the Round the Island in our own yacht and we made it this year sailing for Breast Cancer Care with a crew of top Dinghy sailors, (not that we told anybody) in our Southerly 38 “Secret Agent...Licenced to thrill”

It was only Secret Agent’s second voyage,( by the way we only ever whisper while racing the boat as everything is top secret, and we only say it once!)

The start was 9.00am, second to last start of the day which gave us time to soak up the atmosphere and see what was going on. It was fantastic, boats as far as the eye could see. We had no expectations we just wanted to be part of the biggest yacht race in the World, and we were. 

It was light winds until we got to within sight of the Needles where the breeze kicked in and Secret Agent showed what a great design she is, noticeably faster than other boats of her size, she is a  joy to sail, very responsive yet steady giving the whole crew a great sense of security. Particularly at the back of the island where we took the offshore route for more wind, (15 knots true) and for less traffic for reduction in “dirty air” from other competitors.

We were sailing offwind here with no kite as the one I had ordered from Crusader Sails was not made correctly and could not be used, a shame as our rating included this kite. However we did well overtaking many boats with kites by tacking downwind. The sea was very disturbed but Secret Agent took it all in her stride and while we tucked into lunch and numerous cups of tea. 

We rounded Bembridge ledge , there were about 300 boats with no wind, that had arrived in the hour before, well below us having been pushed down by the tide. A stroke of luck for us here as breeze kicked in. We pushed up into it as far as Bembridge Harbour mouth, we were pointing high and fast, boy does this new breed of Southerly go, we passed many more boats here then freed off around Ryde sands, lifted the Keel to half, stayed on the wind and slid sideways a little as we negociated the shallows.

...boy does this new breed of Southerly go...

Too many boats and Ships (lots of dirty air) we decided to reach off for Gilkicker along the mainland coastline passed Stokes Bay as far as we could to make a layline for the finish at Cowes. We in fact skirted the Brambles Bank to finish at 3 minutes to seven in the evening, ten hours to complete our first Circumnavigation.

I would truly recommend this day to all Southerly owners, the racing is polite and not that awesome but remaining thrilling. The Southerly is a great boat for the event and if we had more of us out there more people will.

Bob & Gill Person won 4th place in their Class and have so far raised £600 for their chosen charity: Breast Cancer Care, including a generous donation from Northshore.