The 40-strong Laser SB3 fleet were only too ready to get going in these ideal conditions, except they were a little too keen and suffered their first general recall of the series. On the restart only two boats were over, the rest getting away cleanly heading inshore on the first beat. Mike Budd in Zimmer reached the top mark first. He then extended his lead downwind, to finish just under one minute ahead of Mike Gillett ( Pambere) and Paul Lovejoy’s Badger Racing at the line. Last week’s winner, Geoff Carveth helming Creativity, did well to climb from the mid-teens during the race to finish fourth.
The fleet made an excellent start in Race 2 but opinions were divided on the best way up the first beat. Pambere hit the layline precisely and rounded just ahead of the pursuing pack. The wind had shifted during the first leg making the run very one-sided with little opportunity to gain places. The second lap saw Scott Graham’s Chill Pill take the lead to finish 27 seconds ahead of Craig Burton helming Gill Race Team. Mark Gillett on Pambere gained his second podium place a further 17 seconds adrift. The committee boat was moved and the course re-laid for the final race where the starboard end of the line was favoured. Jo Lloyd and Sue Lloyd Antonelli on Robina stayed out in the tide, found their own private wind and were first at the windward mark but Ian Gilmour sailing Pelican Racing was close behind and found better downwind speed. Geoff Carveth had been trapped mid-fleet but worked extremely hard to find clear air, making the right tactical decisions as the wind faded, to take the final gun. He joined Craig Burton and Jerry Hill as the three skippers who had posted top ten results throughout on a day of very mixed fortunes.
The J/80s also enjoyed three races, each of 45 to 65 minutes between William off Hill Head and Coronation at the entrance to Southampton Water. Last week’s winner Joystick (Vic Gregory and Rob Larke) continued in fine form adding another two wins and a second place whilst Julian Bates’ Bjorn Slippy achieved two third places. In all three Hunter 707 races, Scaramouche (Matt Gagnon) beat Lutine Belle (Liz Lotz/Peter Young).
The IRC4 class has a good mix of designs, with Sigma 33s and Mustang 30s the most popular. Starting from the Laser SB3 line their course went west of the other Black Group classes before using common marks in the final section to finish at a laid mark near Universal buoy. On the first beat, Aindrie McCormack’s X-99 2XS established a small lead, which was gradually extended enough to give them the race on handicap. Behind the winner, several duels developed between sisterships. The Mustang 30s Hobby Horse (Mike Fawcett) and Erik the Red (Bernard Fyans) had a fine luffing match soon after the windward mark and as so often happens in these one-design tussles, lost places to others. Hobby Horse recovered over the ensuing legs to finish second ahead of Kathy and Rupert Smalley’s Laser 28 The Flying Fish.
Elsewhere in Black Group use was made of moveable marks for the initial legs followed by a cascade of beats, runs and shy spinnaker reaches towards Ryde Middle and then Lee on Solent. Courses varied in length from 13.5nm for IRC1 down to 11.5nm for IR3. In IRC1 J/122s led the fleet with Panacea (John Patterson) beating Jinja (Ian Matthews) by a five second margin. Tim Thubron and Activ Power and Sail’s 40.7 Addiction took IRC2 followed by Premier Flair (Jim Macgregor). Patrick Snowball’s First 34.7 Mongoose established an impressive lead in IRC3 to finish seven minutes ahead of Elaine (Elan 37) with Starspray (Dehler 36) third. Simon Curwen won the J/105 class in Voador while Jahmali took the J/109s.
Racing in the Spring Series continues on 29 March and 5 April with the first of the Spring Championship races for “big boats”, 45 footers and 40.7s on Saturday 4 April.