Off and running
In the light, cold north-westerly, there was little hint of spring in the air. The sportsboats in White Group got underway after a short postponement, with courses set in the entrance to Southampton Water. Opinion was divided on the best way to the first windward mark. In the Mumm 30 class Ian Gill in Offbeat chose a long starboard tack from the start line whilst the remainder went inshore. Halfway up the beat, the wind shifted towards the north, favouring Gill's decision and Offbeat held the lead until the latter stage of the race when Asterix (Louis Browne) overtook and went on to win by 40 seconds. The 1720 start was extremely close with little daylight between the bows of many and the start line transit. Whilst Finn McCoul lead for much of the race, Nick Fisk in Gill made the most of the erratic conditions to take a win. The classes starting later suffered more as the breeze dwindled and the back markers in the Hunter 707 fleet found it a real struggle to finish.
As the wind died, some made their way home during another postponement but the majority waited to find their patience rewarded as the breeze swung to the south-west and built to 6 knots. In the 22 strong Laser SB3 fleet, Boo (Charles Nicholson) and Musto (Glenn Bourke) had a good day with a first and second apiece. Racing for the first time as a separate class in the series, Jenga and Mosquito shared the honours in the J80s.
The Black Group fleet endured a longer wait but CRO David Greenway wisely chose to delay his final decision until 12.30pm, by which time there was sufficient of a breeze building in the western Solent to consider getting racing underway, with a cascading course finishing at East Knoll. Intent on making the most of the 10 knot westerly, the nine classes were compressed into three starts with the Z flag invoking penalties for anyone on the course side before the start. Even so, there was one general recall, perhaps not surprising in the strong spring tide. In the busy conditions, there were
close calls at the first windward mark - a time for quick decisions, the occasional shout and slick crew work. Inevitably there were plenty of spinnaker wraps and one boat managed to fly theirs sideways, and with some success!
Chris Brown and Peter Harding's DK46 Fidessa Fastwave won IRC1 from Rob Goddard's Farrfalina Cadhireuk. The IMX40 Exabyte 2 led IRC2 with Lance Stevens' Bavaria Match 42 Sidney second. Continuing in fine performance after a class win in the Hamble Winter Series, Peter Rutter's Elan 37 Quokka beat Jim MacGregor's Elan 40, helmed by Martin Moody, in IRC3.
The Raymarine Warsash Spring Series continues on Sunday 20th March, with the remaining four races after a break for Easter.