The combination of a classic north-westerly and a midday high tide allowed the fleet to use the best race area in the Solent - the shallow and comparatively tideless Hill Head plateau - for an exciting days racing.
The unstable northwesterly airstream with dramatic and persistent wind-shifts made it a race day to remember in which only the most skilful tacticians could hope for any sort of consistency.
The event was being closely scrutinised by the RYA selectors for the GBR teams for the forthcoming Rolex Commodores’ Cup. The event also being used by the Irish team taking an early look at the GBR hopefuls for the same event.
The first race started on a leeward going tide on an initial wind of 330° that backed to 300° by the end of the race.
In IRC0, Nick Hartshorn’s Ker 11.3 El Gringo took an early lead over Adam Gosling’s First 44.7 Yes! in IRC0 at the first windward mark and held this position to the finish. By the end of the race, one of the favourites for selection, Bear of Britain - who are at present top boat in the inshore trials - had passed them both to take line honours but remained in 3rd on corrected time. The new Ker 39, Flying Glove sailed by Colm Barrington - part of the Irish Rolex Commodores’ Cup team - finished in 4th position.
In IRC1 more Rolex Commodores’ Cup hopefuls were battling it out for a place on the team - Jerry Otter’s Exabyte 2 took line honours but took second place on corrected time. Racing was close for the top boats in the class and Andrew Pearce’s IMX40 Magnum II finished close enough to Exabyte 2 to take first place on corrected time with Nick Jones’ Tarka in third place. Robert Gateshill’s Prima 38 Bare Knuckles took fourth position.
RORC ex-Commodore Peter Rutter’s Elan 37 Quokka is also hoping for a place in the GBR team. Competing in IRC2, she performed well, taking line honours and winning on corrected time ahead of the second Irish Rolex Commodores’ Cup team boat the Ker 32 - Voodoo Chile - raced by Eamon Crosbie. Jonathan and Lisa Goring on Jeronimo took third place followed by Glide-X, an X332 sailed by Ian Dawson.
IRC3 also had close racing as Frenchman Nicholas de la Fourniere’s X312 Exile took second place in IRC2 beaten by White Mischief, Andy Hind and Mark Harris’ Hanse 291. The oldest boat in the fleet Whooper a 1939 Laurent Giles skippered by Giovanni Belgrano placed third on corrected time in the first race of the day.
By the afternoon the wind had picked up to a more challenging 20-22 knots and backed to approximately 310°, still with dramatic windshifts. There was a significant windward going tide, but the fleet showed great skill in allowing for this with some excellent and competitive starts – apart from an unlucky few who incurred OCS penalties.
In IRC0, Bear of Britain took line honours once again and was also first on corrected time. Flirt was nearly five minutes behind them giving them third place. Colm Barrington’s Flying Glove finished some nine minutes later, but moved up to second position on corrected time, with Nick Hartshorn’s El Gringo in fourth place.
In IRC1, Bare Knuckles took irfst place over Magnum II, followed by Peter Morton’s Salvo and Jerry Otter’s Exabyte 2. Donald Sharp and Kathleen McCormac had travelled the furthest to attend the Championship, sailing their Seaquest 36 Tundra all the way from her base in Scotland, and were rewarded with a fifth.
In IRC2, it was Paul Jones sailing his Elan 40 Passion who was first across the line and went on to take first place in class. Close racing between Quokka and Voodoo Chile resulted in Quokka taking second place after beating Voodoo Chile across the line by only nine seconds.
White Mischief remained ahead of the fleet in IRC3 and Whooper beat Exile for second place. Sareema Robert McLeod’s Fulmar followed closely behind.
For the third race, the wind was still averaging 310°, but the tide was beginning to slacken, and had ceased to run by the end of the starting sequence.
Bear of Britain won their second race of the day in the final race, followed by Flirt and Flying Glove. After three races and a good day on the water, Bear remained at the top of the leaderboard in Class IRC Super Zero and Zero, with Flying Glove in second place followed by El Gringo, who had performed extremely well among the big boats.
In IRC1, there was a general recall at the first attempt. Flag Zulu was flown for the second attempt and the race restarted cleanly with now very cautious fleet taking nearly 30 seconds for the first boat to cross the start line. Once again a starboard tack was favoured. Maverick 2 ended up crossing the line in first place in race three followed by Magnum II and Salvo. However, on corrected time Magnum II was in first place after three races followed by Bare Knuckles.
A clear start for IRC2 and Capitali$m, Tim Harrington’s HOD35 won the third race after an 8th and 7th place in the first two races of the day. Jeronimo and Civils with Flair, Glide-X and Voodoo Chile followed closely behind Quokka and Voodoo Chile.
In IRC3, Exile took line honours and second place on corrected time. However, White Mischief after two wins today and a fourth in the final race remained in top position with Whooper in third and Software Mistress in fourth place.
There will be a prizegiving for the first two days races at the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion tomorrow evening.
Overall class results after 3 races – Day 1:
IRC Super Zero + Zero:
1. Bear of Britain – Farr 52 - Kit Hobday/Tim Louis
2. Flying Glove – Ker 39 – Colm Barrington
3. El Gringo – Ker 11.3 – Nick Hartshorn
4. Flirt – Corby 50 – Richard Matthews
5. Yes! – First 44.7 – Adam Gosling
1. Magnum – IMX40 – Andrew Pearce
2. Bare Knuckles – Prima 38 – Robert Gateshill
3. Exabyte 2 – IMX 40 – Jerry Otter
4. Salvo – Sydney 36 – Peter Morton
5. Tundra – Seaquest – Sharp & McCormac
1. Jeronimo – J109 – Jonathan & Lisa Goring
2. Quokka – Elan 37 – Peter Rutter
3. Voodoo Chile – Ker 32 - Eamon Crosbie
4. Civils with Flair – Elan 37 – Jim Macgregor
5. Passion – Elan 40 – Paul Jones
1. White Mischief – Hanse 291 – Andy Hind & Mark Harris
2. Exile – X312 – Nicholas de la Fourniere
3. Whooper – One off – Giovanni Belgrano
4. Software Mistress – Sigma 362 – Ian Maclean
5. Sareema - Fulmar – Robert McLeod