Day of the X-41
Spring Championships Week 1
A bright but almost windless Solent greeted the sportsboats for the first of their four days’ intensive racing over two weekends. A maximum 14 races, with no discards, are scheduled to decide the winners. Boats are divided into four classes and, with 60 Laser SB3s entered, they were given their own start line under the jurisdiction of Chief Race Officer Peter Knight. Jon Spencer took charge of the 707s, J/80s and 'menagerie' sportsboat classes. The wind hovered around the 4 to 5 knot mark but there were definite holes to trap the unwary. As the wind constantly changed, the windward/leeward legs even reversed into beat, run, run beat!
The Laser SB3s got underway with some individual recalls. Paul Lovejoy helming Badger Racing chose the left-hand layline but Geoff Carveth’s Palava, from the centre of the course, reached the windward mark first, closely followed by Badger Racing and Blue Job. Once round the mark, the leaders made significant gains as the main pack created large areas of dirty wind. Later progress became tortuous as the wind dwindled and the west-going tide was all too ready to sweep boats onto the bottom mark. Mark Cam on board Camel Pie found a little extra pressure to take the win ahead of Dirty Harry. After a postponement, the race committee managed to fit in another race when Paul Lovejoy made no mistakes. A number of boats were disqualified under the black flag rule which would make it difficult for them to get back into contention, given no opportunity to discard the result. Sail Navy was particularly unlucky, having to take a penalty for the approach to the windward mark and then snagging the spreader mark.
With smaller numbers to handle, Jon Spencer was able to set short windward/leeward courses and complete the full schedule of four races for the day. Whilst there was less tide near the Meon shore, it also took longer for the breeze to arrive and the first race was delayed until after 11am. Conditions were taxing all day and no race was sailed without at least one wind shift. Miles Danby sailing his Hunter 707 Tequila finished last in Race 1 but went on to win two races. The J/80s are probably the most intriguing class. Ian Atkins, ex-1720s, brought boats.com out for the first time in the series and the class looks set to be a three-way battle between him, Stewart Hawthorn ( Wee Jump) and Peter Henney ( Nemo).
Raymarine Warsash Spring Series Week 5
Competitors returning to the Raymarine Warsash Spring Series after the Easter break found summer had arrived. A high pressure system continued to dominate the weather pattern with the concern that, when the sun burnt away the haze, it might also kill the light breeze.
The Black Group fleet were set courses to keep them all in the same area to the east of the Brambles Bank. As the start sequence got underway, the weather-going tide got stronger and a few boats caught the wrong side of the line. Benny Kelly’s TP52 Panthera, the greyhound of IRC1, established a lead over the others but the X-41 Legally Brunette finishing third was close enough to take the win on handicap when the course was shorted as the wind faded after mid-day.
It was X-35s one and two in IRC2. In the light conditions, getting around a mark and gaining the tidal advantage paid increasing dividends. As IRC3 reached the windward mark, some felt the need to kedge, whilst others were fortunate to sail round them. This class shows the series results perfectly poised for a final battle, with Flair IV leading by one point from Quokka and Astarte just one point behind in third.
IRC4 has seen the main contest between X-332s and Sigma 38s. At the start, the lighter X-332s went left towards the bank, whilst most Sigma 38s favoured the right-hand tack towards the Hill Head shore. This week however it was Liz and Robbie Robinson’s first outing in Hot Rats (Humphreys 30) which took both the line and class win, followed by two of the X-332s. Some of the closest finishes of the day were in IRC5 where the two Mustang 30s skippered by Michael Fawcett ( Hobby Horse) and Bernard Fyans ( Eric the Red) were just a couple of boat lengths apart after 150 minutes of racing and the two Sigma 33s - Sixes and Sevens and Sigress - were even closer. Sixes and Sevens took her third win which gives her the top position on the overall table.
The schedule for White Group sportsboats also included the second day’s racing for the Spring Championship. The Laser SB3s’ courses ran in the mouth of Southampton Water whilst the Hunter 707s, J/80s and mixed sportsboats used the Meon shore. With less tide here, three races were achieved before the ebb tide became too strong.
Russell Mead, having missed the first weekend, has sailed consistently well since and won the first race although current leaders Simon Law and Chris Eddy took wins later in the day to tighten their grip on the overall table. The main runners in the J/80 class had been to the Spi Ouest France regatta for Easter. In a big fleet there, several had gained a top ten place demonstrating the quality abounding in the Warsash class. Marie-Claude and Paul Heys had seemed invincible before the break but their good form did not last into the fifth week. Peter Henney helmed “Nemo” to his first win ahead of Stephen Chiverton on Just Chilling. The ex-1720 sailor Ian Atkins scored an OCS in Race 1 but went on to win twice. The Heys partnership still leads the class but there just might be the possibility of an upset. In the SBR class, David Greenhalgh dominated the day with a clean sweep of victories in G&T.
On the SB3 course, it was a balancing act between the stronger breeze funnelling down Southampton Water and the increased choppy sea created by the passing commercial traffic. Conditions were so light, 16 boats failed to reach the line before the 20 minute time limit expired. Geoff Carveth won the first race in Palava but was then one of four boats black flagged for the second. There was sufficient wind for the remainder to record a valid result. The main drama was reserved for the final race. With the wind swinging towards the south, the windward mark was set just north of the deep water channel. GBR31 reached the top mark ahead of Marinetrack.com and maintained her lead to the bottom mark but rounded up too soon and was swept onto the mark - the first of four such casualties. The sea breeze then arrived and the rest of the fleet began to enjoy the best sailing of the weekend. Approaching the bottom mark for the second time, Marinetrack.com ran aground as the mark had been dragged towards the shore. Only swift action by the race support boats prevented the leaders going the same way and in the space of two minutes, the race officers had no option but to abandon the race and send everyone home.
Next weekend sees Warsash Sailing Club at its very busiest, with the culmination of the Spring Championships, Big Boat Series and Raymarine Warsash Spring Series on 21/22 April.
Provisional results: Raymarine Warsash Spring Series
16 April 2007
IRC1 Legally Brunette X-41 X-Yachts
IRC 2 Vortex X-35 Tim Harrington
IRC 3 Astarte First 34.7 Nick Jones/Suzi Lawicka
IRC 4 Hot Rats Humphreys 30 Liz and Robbie Robinson
IRC 5 Sixes and Sevens Sigma 33 Pullin, Norman, Whitmore & Dwyer
J/109 Just So David and Mary McGough
J/105 J-Dream David and Kirsty Apthorp
Race 1 The Ant Hill Mob Russell Mead
Race 2 Sword Simon Law and Chris Eddy
Race 3 Sword Simon Law and Chris Eddy
Race 1 Nemo Peter Henney
Race 2 boats.com Ian Atkins
Race 3 boats.com Ian Atkins
Race 1 Palava Geoff Carveth
Race 2 Sybarite Dominic Akers-Douglas
Races 1,2,3 G&T David Greenhalgh