42 knot gusts and 90° windshifts made for possibly the most memorable of all Round Hayling events yesterday. There was loads of different kit among the 110 entrants on the startline – tandems, longboards, old school Superlights, kids’ kit, wave kit, everything! But given the insane conditions (just check out the Chimet wind spike between 12 and 1pm, exactly as the event took place) only nine managed to make it round and across the finish line. The honours went to Guy Cribb in a time of 1 hour 8 minutes, we asked him how it went:
“I knew the Round Hayling Marathon was going to be won or lost in the lulls as the speed disparity between two sailors at full speed is very little, but if one isn’t planing, it’s massive, so I rigged big. I took my biggest slalom board – the 2010 Fanatic Falcon – straight out of the wrapper with a 50cm fin to ensure great upwind and early planing performance. I powered this with my brand new North Warp 8m, and downhauled the life out of it for maximum control. I arrived late so only managed two reaches before the start to tune everything and realise how horrifically overpowered I was. There were people planing on 4.5ms! And literally as we started the wind just nuked off the scale.
“Jamie Hawkins and I were both visibly overpowered and found it very difficult to sail downwind while some of the fleet on smaller sails in more control were flying ahead of us. Also the longboards were able to point straight downwind, but I knew if I could hang on to my rig in this horrific early stage, I should be in a strong position in the wind shadow around the back of the Island. It all very nearly went horribly wrong as my fin was dragging through the mud at full tilt! But sure enough as soon as I got any kind of control, I was gone.
“I planed full speed at the bridge, dropped my rig down for a second or two, with it skimming the roof as cars drove overhead, then pulled it back up hardly losing any speed, pumping hard to catch another gust and blasted through the next obstacles, lulls and currents into Langstone Harbour on the west side of Hayling.
“Cranking upwind here everything was just perfect and I kept looking back to the bridge to see the next sailors coming through, but I never saw anyone. Subsequently I learned that after I passed the bridge, already with a fairly big lead, the wind shifted and dropped and no-one else managed to plane through this section – so sure enough, the big rig and board paid off. By the time I passed the Ferry Boat Inn on West Hayling, I’d only been sailing for 30 minutes and was over two-thirds of the way round the course looking great for a totally new record time. Apparently the next sailor to pass the Ferry Boat Inn was 41 minutes behind.
“But then the shit hit the fan. A 42 knot squall demolished everyone, myself included, big time. I was just exiting Langstone Harbour against the tide in shoulder-high chop, in the worst tidal current I’ve probably ever seen, it was a ridiculous: 10 knot current, enourmous chop and white water, in 40 knots, on an 8m sail and a board only 230cm long. Needless to say I got drilled and catapulted and couldn’t waterstart as my gear flew out of the water and sunk, time and again. After 5 major wipe-outs I was bolloxed, and after each wipeout I was washed back into the Harbour and had to try again. Eventually I was trying to make it to the shore to carry my kit along the beach. There was just no way through this impact zone, but after far more forearm cramp than I’d planed on getting for a short hour-long sail, I managed to squeeze through.
“After that I had no energy to hold any speed down the front of Hayling and what had been a perfect situation for a record attempt was scuppered. To make matters worse the wind dropped to zilch and I couldn’t plane the last mile or so, finishing in 1 hour 8 minutes, some 14 minutes away from the record. In this time the longboard National Champion Rob Kent was eating up my lead and finished within 30 minutes of me.
“The event was an incredible experience for everyone, with a massive variety of kit and conditions which utterly destroyed most of the fleet. Only nine people finished in what will be a very memorable year in the Round Hayling’s long legacy, and I was very proud to be part of it.
“Big thanks to Hayling Island Sailing Club and Club Vass for all the event support. See you there next year?”
Guy Cribb, April 2nd 2010.
PS: Forgot to mention – I lost my racing watch in one wipe-out, and my GPS in another. If anyone finds my GPS it’s in a waterproof pouch and has GC2 written on it. Thanks!