Heading for the grand finale
Raymarine Warsash Spring Series – 19 April 2009
Once again, conditions were near perfect. The offshore breeze was northeasterly 8 to 14 knots. The sun shone and all scheduled races were completed in good time. Two races were held for IRC3, IRC4 and J/105s to make up for those lost when the wind refused to play ball earlier in the series. The start sequence was amended to give IRC3 and the J/105s the first shot of the day and they shared the same tactically challenging course.
IRC3 is the largest of the handicap classes at 31 and includes 11 Sigma 38s in its mix of designs. The first course made good use of laid marks, taking competitors on an initial beat inshore of Hamble Yacht Services buoy and then on to include legs skirting the Bramble Bank before the final beat to finish at Air Canada. The committee boat end of the start line was favoured and Scarlet Jester (SJ320 – Jamie Muir) was the first to get clean air and pull away. Series leader Mongoose (First 34.7 – Patrick Snowball) was blocked out and penalised for a committee boat infringement before making a late but fast start when the line was clear. At the laid windward mark Mike Cooper’s J/92 Java Lite, with Paul Heys on board, held a small lead from Xcitable (Peter Hodgkinson/Sarah Bailey) with Mongoose making progress to round third.
On the first run, the fleet started to spread out and a group of nine boats put daylight between them and the rest of the fleet. By the run from Hill Head to Williams Shipping Xcitable and Mongoose had overtaken Java Lite and steered a course towards the Bramble Bank post whilst everyone else stayed in the main channel to the north. The third beat saw Starspray (Dehler 36 – Bateson family) and Malice (HOD35 – Mike Moxley) stay south of the bank to make up on places and round together. It was nip and tuck over the final two legs with Malice just edging Starspray by 14 seconds at the line followed by Xcitable and Java Lite. On corrected time the smaller J/92 Java Lite came out the winner with Starspray second and only 24 seconds separated first to fourth places.
For the afternoon’s shorter race, Malice established an early lead in a variable breeze. The run back to West Ryde Middle was lively as boats caught up IRC4 and also had to weave their best path between bigger boats on the opposite tack. There was no catching Malice which took both line honours and the handicap win, followed by Mongoose and Scarlet Jester. Pavlova III headed the Sigma 38s in fifth place.
Rob Dornton-Duff had a good day aboard Java winning both J/105 races to take a four point lead in the Series. In IRC4, Nick Masson brought his new boat Blink (Link 30 OD) to victory in IRC4 in the morning and lies equal fourth on points with The Flying Fish and Catch 22. Hobby Horse (Mike Fawcett) leads the class but Crackajax (Richard Hollis) and 2XS (Aindriu McCormack) are also level on points in second. In the final confrontation any one of six boats could take the title. Other Black Group classes saw wins for Bill Blain’s Batfish (IRC1), Addiction, her fifth bullet in IRC2 and a first win for J-Dream (David and Kirsty Apthorp) in the J/109s.
In the White Group sportsboat fleet, some competitors were counting points towards the Spring Championships as well as the Spring Series. The Laser SB3s had a mixed day of general recalls and black flags. The most crucial of these was the last race, when both Zimmer (Mike Budd) and City of Capetown (Roger Hudson) were among the casualties . Cre8tivity (Geoff Carveth) posted two wins and a third to retain a big points lead in the Spring Series after 15 races. The Hunter 707 class gained a few more boats in their class and although the racing was close, Jon Powell’s Betty completed a hat trick of firsts. In the J/80s there were three different winners – Joystick, Jammy Dodger and last year’s winner Boats.com.
Into the final Sunday, only Activ Power & Sail’s First 40.7 Addiction, in IRC2, is assured of a series trophy possibly along with Geoff Carveth in the Laser SB3s. All other classes are up for grabs. It’s going to be an exciting weekend.
Raymarine Warsash Spring Championship
For the first weekend of the Raymarine Warsash Spring Championship the Laser SB3, J/80 and Hunter 707 classes were included with a maximum 14 races spread over two weekends and no discards allowed. This format is popular with competitors and can throw up surprise winners.
The conditions on Saturday were always going to be challenging as there was an offshore breeze with windward marks set under the Meon shore. Getting tactics right on the beat was critical. The SB3s arrived at the start area well ahead of time, all fired up for action and this enthusiasm caused an initial general recall. Away cleanly on the second attempt the leaders came out of the middle of the course. Geoff Carveth ( Cre8tivity), South African Roger Hudson ( City of Cape Town), Mike Budd ( Zimmer) and Hamish Walker ( Sail Navy) slowly put some distance between themselves and the peleton. As the race progressed, Carveth edged his way ahead until the bottom half of the final run when Hudson, out for the first time this year, managed to gybe inside him and take the lead at the bottom mark.
The second race was aborted with another general recall and there followed a lengthy delay as the race team re-laid the course in an unstable wind. When the race did start, it was under the black flag and three boats were disappointed. Of all the early leaders, only Hamish Walker on Sail Navy managed to stay towards the front on lap two. Major wind shifts on the run and beat proved difficult to judge. Eventually Jerry Hill ( 3 Sad Old Blokes) took the gun from Joe Burnie ( Trunk Monkey).
Although the sun came out after lunch, the wind conditions did not stabilise and the black flag rule was in force for the rest of the day. Still boats transgressed and would have to count a bad score. With the tide turned and taking boats towards the line, the last race of the day was the worst when seven boats were eliminated at the first attempt, including Carveth, and two more when the fleet did get away. Walker made the best of the conditions to win the third and fourth races but by a single second in the last race as Sarah Allan’s Sailboat Deliveries pushed him to the very end.
In the first race, seven of the nine J/80s racing were OCS and only five returned. Tim Thubron helming Joystick was one of the offenders and this left the way clear for Ian Atkins on Boats.com to take the gun from Stephen Chiverton ( Just Chilling) and Charles Somerset on Loudwater. The fleet was cleanly away on Race 2 and Thubron had the advantage of the first beat when he sailed Andrew Ashworth ( Jammy Dodger) above the mark before tacking off and rounding just ahead of the pack coming in from the righthand layline. On the run back Chiverton maintained his performance and gained second place with Somerset again third.
In the small Hunter 707 fleet, the honours were split between Tiger Feet (John Cooper and Ian Townend) and Betty (Jon Powell) each taking two races. Tiger Feet added a second and third to their scoreline to end the day with a small advantage over the others.
Sail Navy showed consistency paid as she came out top boat for the weekend of the Laser SB3s despite not posting a result better than seventh place on Sunday. Sponge Bob (Marshall King) had a good day to take second place going into the final weekend with 3 Sad Old Blokes (Jerry Hill) third. In the J/80s Joystick (Vic Gregory and Rob Larke) and Boats.com (Ian Atkins) tied for first place on 23 points with Loudwater (Charles Somerset) on 26 points. Jon Powell in Betty headed the Hunter 707s with Tiger Feet and Sparkle tied for second place.
The final races in the Spring Championship take place on 25-26 April 2009.
More photos on the following pages...