Hunter gathering

Stefan Lloyd rounds up the winter series racing for The Solent's most prolific one-design

Thursday December 12th 2002, Author: Stefan Lloyd, Location: United Kingdom
The series opened with a bang for the record 38 707’s on the start-line for race one. The breeze built rapidly from F2-3 pre-start to F4 at the start and F6 at the finish. Black Sheep – noted for their heavy-airs boatspeed, won out of 25 finishers. Although two boats were recorded OCS there was no general recall despite the Race Officer’s report to the contrary! There were a number of dramas. Class chairman’s Howard Morris’s Double Trouble was hit by a savage gust while ducking Sharkin Mad and unfortunately rounded up and took a large bite of shark steak.




There was considerable contention with the Mumm 30 fleet at the leeward mark, with a substantial number of protests and counter-protests. The second race was abandoned, and with the breeze building to F7 on the way home, Sword experienced a wrap while gybing which they where unable to clear as the kite remained full. A RIB attempted to nudge them head-to-wind to allow the kite to collapse – unfortunately they made contact with the shrouds in the process and the mast came down. Happily nobody was hurt, and Sword made it to the startline the following week with a new rig. Long-term class stalwarts Panic V were also towed in after breaking their rudder pintle.

Conditions the following Saturday for the inaugural “Mid-Winter Championship” could not have been more different. In pleasant sunshine, early classes were dispatched before the slight breeze disappeared completely. After a hiatus of some three hours, enough SW breeze appeared to run two short races. With a dozen boats having been patient enough for the wait, Pocket Battleship won both races.

Returning to the Winter Series itself, strong breezes continued on weekend two with an easterly varying between F4 and F6. Pocket Battleship won the first race from 30 starters. With a strong adverse tide at the weather mark, much shouting and fending-off was observed. Black Sheep won race 2 amongst what was by now a slightly depleted fleet of 27 finishers. A gust of around 30 knots followed the mid-fleet down the final run, with some dramas ensuing.

With dire warnings of F9’s and 10’s for weekend 3, all racing was abandoned.

Weekend 4 continued the windy theme, with 15-25 of SW breeze, and windward-leeward courses made very one-sided by spring cross-tides. Chill Chaser won both races.

A dozen 707’s sailed in the Charity Pursuit Race, while the remainer of the fleet took a mid-series break. Panic V was the leading 707, in 4th place in the Sportsboat class.

Weekend 5 looked unpromising, with early heavy rain and a forecast of not much wind becoming even lighter. In the event, weak sunshine emerged for the first time in the series, and once the fleet had located the committee boat, moored well past it’s usual station, satisfactory racing was enjoyed. There was some confusion over the start of the first race, since the start was abandoned by the committee but no signal could be heard at the far end of the line when the fleet was concentrated – nor was the usual RIB dispatched to round up the great majority of boats who believed they had started.

A considerable number of boats struggled to get back to the start in time for the re-start. A number of boats which went right down the first run found increased pressure – this included Tartiflette who took their first win, while in race 2, Charlie Fish also took their first win of the series.

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