The wind was from the north west so ideal for a passage to Cowes all on the port tack, utilising the remaining starboard daggerboard. Grant had retired with a hangover to mow his lawn and so just Chris Underwood and I sailed TARDIS to Cowes.
Outside the harbour we encountered David Harding in his motor catamaran snapping us for Practical Boat owner and we sailed amongst the regatta fleet on our way towards Hurst.
This was great day for sailing in this direction. We had the gennaker out and soon had the measure of TARDIS. The wind force varied between 2 and 3 and we were able to make our own wind much of the time.
When we stopped trying and had a break for sandwiches we dropped to 5 knots, sailing downwind like any normal boat. Then after lunch we turned across the wind a little picked up speed to 10 knots and bore away gradually reaching speeds of 15+ knots in almost the same direction in which we had been sailing at 5 knots just moments before. We did this lots of times but of course we were gradually getting too near the coast so we had to gybe and head in the direction of the needles for a while. Even without the port daggerboard this was no problem at all as we were running downwind and both boards would normally have been up in these circumstances.
We snook through Hurst as close to the castle as we could and overtook a number of other boats on our way up the Solent towards Cowes where we left TARDIS opposite Clarence Boat Yard.
Aldis has promised to get a replacement daggerboard sent over urgently from Latvia for the Round the Island Race next Saturday. Chris and I now have to get across to Southampton to catch the train to Poole and I have to take the trailer to Hamble before going home for a day. Thank God it is a bank holiday tomorrow.
10 minutes into the first race there was a loud BANG! Grant Kelly at the helm immediately let off the sheets and turned upwind. "The daggerboard!" I cried, jumping onto the port trampoline to see what we might have hit. But we had not hit anything. The forward looking sonar was showing plenty of depth. There were no containers floating about. It had just broken. Why?
The jury is still out as the daggerboard has to be inspected at the factory in Latvia. But we were sailing TARDIS incorrectly to be sure. We had been late on the start because the gennaker had not been properly furled the night before when we hoisted it and the wind had got into it and opened it. So whilst we should have been noting down the course Grant and I were busy with the gennaker, whilst Simon Ward helmed.
Everybody had gone and when we realised we set out after them with full main and jib up. We were catching them up, doing 18 knots just off the wind. Grant said that you could never get this performance out of an F24. We had the port daggerboard fully down and were having a debate about whether to sail with them both down as the starboard one was very stiff to raise. So we had made two mistakes here.
1. Neither daggerboard should ever be fully down except in exceptionally light winds when one wishes to point very high, such as before the start of a race. The original design calculations resulted in a daggerboard that was some 20cm shorter and this extra 20cm should hardly ever be used except in the conditions just mentioned. Shame I did not know this.
2. The windard daggerboard should definitely have been fully up. After all at 18knots the uplift from this board upon entering a wave would be considerable. (It later transpired that its surface was just too rough after I had applied a fresh coat of antifoul and this is why it was so stiff.)
See this EXPLANATION by Aldis Eglajs, the designer.
One could argue that the board should have been stronger. Maybe it was weak and an investigation will reveal this. However, one can make the daggerboard too strong. Then instead of the daggerboard breaking the box that it is in might break and that would be a much bigger disaster.
As it was there was no drama, no threat to life or limb, no capsize. We sailed gently back into Poole at about 5 knots in order to try to preserve the daggerboard for an investigation.
You cannot imagine my disappointment at this equipment failure in such a crucial event.
I was a bit encouraged later when quite a few other boats retired hurt, some with considerably worse damage to their structure.
TARDIS is ready and I am driving down to Poole today with her. I'll be launching round the corner from where she spent the winter, Poole Quay Boat Haven, which is where we will spend the weekend for the MOCRA Nationals. The racing starts on Saturday at 11.00 am and on Sunday and Monday at 10.30, I believe. Looks like Saturday is going to be the only windy day.
On Tuesday I shall be sailing her to Cowes, ready for the Round the Island Race, which starts (for us) at 06.20 on Saturday 3rd June. I SHALL BE STAYING IN COWES FOR THE WEEK, so anybody who wants to have a SAIL IN TARDIS should CONTACT ME by PHONE on my mobile on 07985 043 981. Can't guarantee to answer it straight away but will get back to you if you leave a number.
After the RTIR, possibly the day after, I intend to sail TARDIS back to the mainland and trail her up to Holyhead on Sunday 4th, probably stopping off at home in Chester on the way.
So during June and July, for those interested in purchasing a CATRI, she will be available for demonstrations from Holyhead. In August I will be sailing her to France.