Bumper finale

Solent packed with fleets as crews fight for the top spots in the Raymarine Warsash Sailing Club Spring Series and Championships

Tuesday April 24th 2007, Author: Flavia Bateson, Location: United Kingdom
The weekend of 21st/22nd April was certainly a busy one for Warsash Sailing Club with a full schedule of racing in the sixth week of the Raymarine Warsash Spring Series as well as the culmination of the Spring Championships for sportsboats and final meeting in the Big Boats Series.

All this added up to 265 entries, involving three start lines. Numbers were up in the Big Boat Series, now in its second year and with a separate class included for 40.7s for the first time. Interest had also grown in the two one design J-Boat classes, J/105 and J/109, in Black Group.

The Laser SB3s had the largest class of 72 boats compared with 59 in 2006. With so much going on, the club was pleased to welcome help from visiting race officers - Abel Bellaguet, International Judge, from Hyeres in France who assisted with White Group and the Protest Committee and Patrik Schander a Swedish National Race Officer assigned to Black Group and the Big Boats. All competitors will be welcome at the prize giving to be held at the Warsash Sailing club on Friday 18th May 2007.

Raymarine Warsash Spring Series - Final Week 6, 22nd April

The 23-strong IRC1 class this week included three TP52s when Benny Kelly’s Panthera was joined by Charles Dunstone’s Red and Paul Winkelman’s Island Fling. These three had a real tussle at the head of the fleet. The finish was close when Red took both line and class honours but mere yards separated Island Fling from Panthera after a race of 90 minutes. For the second race the easterly wind faded in the closing stages but Panthera maintained her overall lead to take the series title.

Tim Harrington’s X-35 Vortex proved the boat to beat in IRC2 and this week took a fourth win ensuring the series trophy, although the 40.7 Parallel Blue (Chris Jackson) put in a keen challenge. Going into the last race in IRC3 Jim McGregor in Flair IV has a one point lead over his old rival Peter Rutter in Quokka with Nick Jones in his new Raymarine-sponsored First 34.7 Astarte a further point behind. By the first windward mark, Astarte and Quokka were only yards apart with Flair IV seemingly dead and buried in sixth place. The last leg started as a spinnaker reach to a laid mark when swiftly, and contrary to the forecast, the wind died. Quokka managed to pass Astarte and take line honours but needed to give too much time to the smaller boat which won on handicap. As Flair IV took third place, this left the three boats tied on 9 points. With three wins, the count back gave the series title to Nick Jones and Suzi Lawicka - an excellent start to their 2007 campaign in a new boat.

IRC4 was nicely poised, with two X-332s and two Sigma 38s in contention for the title. The lighter conditions initially seemed to favour the lighter X-332s and by the second beat James Crockatt’s X-332 Jump and Shout looked to have a substantial lead over Ian Dawson’s Glide-X. However, it was all in vain and no boats managed to make the shortened finish within the time limit, leaving Ian Dawson, from the home club, the title ahead of Rob Denning and John Rainger’s Sigma 38 Light.

Another X design versus Sigma design dominated IRC5. Aindriu McCormack’s X-99 2xs had an outside chance of beating the Sigma 33 Sixes and Sevens. By East Bramble, the first windward mark, things were looking good. The X-99 had a small lead and was in clear air whilst the Sigma was struggling to find clear air and make headway against the tide as well as having crew up the mast to retrieve the spinnaker halyard. However, both boats later also fell victim to the dying breeze and discarded this result which gave Sixes and Sevens the series win.

David and Kirsty Apthorp had already secured the J/105 title but had to give best to second placed Paul Griffiths helming Fay-J in this last race. In the bigger J/109 bowsprit class, Bruce Jubb on Johnny Blue II went into the last race holding a slender points lead over Will Leonard ( Just William) and Mike Wallis ( Jahmali). Jubb and Leonard slowly inched ahead of the rest of the fleet, but it was nip and tuck all the way. As the finish line approached, Jubb just got his bow in front by two seconds to take both the race and series class win.

The sportsboats classes were also combining the day’s races into their results for their Spring Championships and, whilst this did not affect the overall results, it did bring some new names to the winner’s board. Richard Barnes sailing Cacciatore in the Hunter 707 class had an outstanding day, taking all three races ahead of Russell Mead helming The Ant Hill Mob in Race 1 and Simon Law and Chris Eddy on board Sword in the last two races. It was this consistency that gave Law and Eddy the overall title, counting two thirds, five seconds and four wins for the series. The mixed sportsboat class has been dominated by the 1720s. David Greenhalgh’s G&T won the final day’s races but the early success of Huw Alban Davies with six wins from the first eight races gave Go Ferret the overall top spot. Paul and Marie-Claude Heys returned to form to take the J/80 class. With Marie-Claude on the helm, the team had been invincible for the first four weeks, but suffered a dip in Week 5. In the final set of races, they won the first two, secured the title and retired to the bar, leaving the remaining boats to fight it out in the dying breeze. The racing in this class has been extremely tight, with many positions only being decided in the final few yards up to the line.

The ever-growing popularity of the Laser SB3 fleet has been well documented and with over 60 new boats being delivered in the first six months of 2007, the trend is steeply upward. Last season the class had a reputation for poor starting discipline - general recalls and black flags being the order of the day - but this year, so far, there have been many clean starts in the 13 races completed. The class has a plethora of talent in its midst and so the three boats that achieved such a high standard of consistency are to be commended. Daniel Geoghegan sailing Champagne Blonde counted a 10th as his worst result but that still gave him third place overall. Ahead of him Geoff Carveth in Palava (ex Small but Steamy) won three races and scored an eighth to secure second place but Marshall King also won three races in Blue Job but scored nothing lower than a fifth to take the overall title by three points.

Raymarine Warsash Spring Championships 2nd weekend - 21st/22nd April

The period of fine weather that settled over the Solent allowed the race officer team to ensure that a full programme of races for all classes was completed - just! The final race for the Laser SB3s was sailed in extremely light winds with a building tide flowing out of Southampton Water.

After the first weekend’s racing, Richard Barnes helming Cacciatore held a small lead in the Hunter 707 class. He recorded a 1, 2, 3, 1 score line on Saturday to extend his lead over Tim Hunt’s Jeff, his main opposition. Things might have been closer if Simon Law and Chris Eddy had been able to race Sword on Saturdays, but in the final three races Cacciatore seemed invincible, taking three wins, and removing any doubts about the Spring Championship title (below).

The small fleet of mixed sportsboats was dominated by David Greenhalgh’s 1720 G&T, which won eight of the 14 races, including all three sailed on Sunday. Here the 1720s were joined by a Backman 21 and Sebastien Delasnerie also brought his Speedfeet 18 Dr Feelgood over from France. The J/80 World Championships are being held in France this year and this might account for the resurgence of interest in the class. Stewart Hawthorn ( Wee Jump), Ian Atkins ( boats.com), Peter Henney ( Nemo) and Liz Savage ( Savage Racing) were all in contention at the start of the weekend. By Saturday evening, honours were exactly shared between Wee Jump and Savage Racing. Jenga Trois joined in the racing on Sunday and rattled off wins in the first two races before retiring in the third when the wind faded. Although Liz Savage won the final race, Wee Jump took second place and thanks to consistently good performances during the 14 races, took the overall title by six points.

With 66 entries, the biggest ever class in the Spring Championships, the Laser SB3s had their own race course and committee boat. This resulted in a great improvement at the starts, which together with the judicial use of the “I” flag, kept the race schedule ticking over on time. During the first weekend of light conditions, only four races were sailed, instead of the scheduled seven, so there were no clear leaders going into the second weekend. In a decent easterly breeze Stewart Reed and John Mawdsley sailing Finitor 7 took the first race on Saturday before Geoff Carveth in Palava hit a purple patch and reeled off the remaining three races. However, he was carrying a 66-point penalty from a black flag in a previous race.

The only other boat showing consistent form was Craig Burlton in Monkeyoffice.co.uk with a 9,6,8,2 score line. Sunday morning saw a more southerly, lighter breeze and a victory for Mark Rushall helming Risk Premium ahead of Daniel Geoghegan in Champagne Blonde who went on to overall victory by winning the penultimate race, As sailing conditions deteriorated, there was a trickle of boats heading towards the River Hamble, leaving those who were in contention for the series to fight it out to the last breath of wind. Clare Molloy’s Credo had the privilege of taking the final winning gun with Chris Russell, Ian Duke and Rob Muir sailing The Rat Pack hearing the last gun of the series. The championship title went to Daniel Geoghegan ahead of Geoff Carveth and Ian Hunt.

Raymarine Warsash Big Boat Series 2nd weekend, 21st/22nd April 2007

The contrast between the weather for the first and second weekends could not have been greater. Instead of the near gales and big waves there was plenty of sunshine, a moderate easterly wind and strong weather-going tide during the morning.

The fleet was augmented by the arrival of several new boats but it was Jerry Otter’s Werewolf that drew first blood. After a long beat to Browndown buoy off Stokes Bay, she rounded ahead of the main pack. Everybody then headed along the north shore to avoid the worst of the tide. Werewolf, having gained clear air, slowly pulled ahead and took a more direct course downwind, whilst the remaining boats kept very much in a bunch. Fortis Excel and Cutting Edge had a very close race for the minor places.

The course length was shortened for the second race as a new windward mark was laid and the inflatable bottom mark brought nearer the committee boat. Again it was Werewolf which took line honours just a few lengths ahead of the Farr 45 fraxious (Jack Pringle) when the race was shortened after two laps. Glynn Williams brought home his Swan 45 WISC in third place and took the race on corrected time.

Confusion reigned briefly at the start of the final race on Saturday with a failure on the timing equipment on the committee boat. Most of the fleet started correctly but those that watched the flags were out of kilter. The race officer had no choice but to call a restart. By now, the tide had turned and was holding the fleet back from the line. It was also flowing strongly at the top mark, making it vital to call the layline correctly. With so many boats approaching the mark at the same time, Fair Do’s VII was one of two boats that had to bail out and go round again, which cost her several places. Shaun Frohlich’s Exabyte took line honours in the final race and third on corrected time behind Klaus Diederichs and Grant Gordon’s Swan 45 Fever, to lead going into the final day.

The wind was lighter on Sunday morning and from a more south-easterly direction, making the windward mark North Ryde Middle. fraxious made a bold move, trying to come into the line from above the committee boat under the preparatory signal. Unfortunately, their timing was not perfect and they needed to return to correct their premature start. Although they managed to get back into the main body of the fleet, the time lost here was reflected in their 13th position in the results. John Shepherd called the shots on Fair Do’s VII and was comfortably ahead of the Farr 45s at the finish. Colin Buffin had a great end to the series when he brought his Swan 42 Uxorious III to line and class honours in the afternoon race, when patience was more than a virtue.

However, in a series with no discards, when everyone had at least one poor result, it was the pair of sixth places in the last two races that was enough to give Glynn Williams and his crew on WISC the overall victory.

The First 40.7s level racing in the second Big Boat class had mixed fortunes. On Saturday, Robin Dollar ( Grand Cru II) won his second race of the series but then slipped a few places in the next two leaving Rob Bottomley’s Combat, which missed the first weekend, to take both races from series leader Peter Robson ( Playing Around). On Sunday morning the boats raced with IRC2 and Chris Jackson brought Parallel Blue out for the first time. In a race lasting over two and a half hours, Jackson finished five seconds behind the X-35 Vortex and ahead of the other 40.7s. In the afternoon, the wind faded and with a building tide, the last race had to be cancelled, leaving the overall title with Robson’s Playing Around.

Full results can be found here

More pictures from the racing on the following pages...

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