Light weather start
On the Black Group committee boat, David Greenway and his race officers out in the mid-Solent waited for the light westerly to settle sufficiently to set a fair course. At 1035 IRC1 got off to a clean start, heading across the Bramble Bank to West Knoll buoy. A new windward mark was laid just north of Air Canada buoy for the remaining four classes.
In IRC2 the pin end of the line was favoured. Only Puma Logic was over and Peter Rutter’s Quokka was the first to gain clean air. Soon the fleet was strung out over a wide area as tacticians tried to find the best wind, which oscillated between west and east for an hour from midday. With all classes still struggling to reach the first mark, the decision was taken to shorten course to two legs. Some boats had resorted to kedging while others were in danger of being swept into the main channel. Crews constantly changed from white sails to spinnaker as the fickle breeze altered direction.
As the time limit approached a constant breeze finally came up from The Needles for the spinnaker reach to the finish. In IRC1 Paul Bayliss helming Stewart Hawthorn’s new Santa Cruz 37 Sonic chose his moment to gybe well and powered to the line just before 1400 ahead of Tim Thubron on Addiction in IRC2. This gave boats still racing in these classes an extended time limit. As the top-rated boat in IRC1 Sonic slipped to third on handicap leaving a win to John Patterson’s J/122 Panacea. Having held her lead from the first mark Addiction posted a first bullet three minutes ahead of Encore, another First 40.7. Guy Knight on Beth took line honours in the one-design J/109s and did the rest of his group a favour by creating a later time limit. Unfortunately no boats in IRC3 or J/105 managed to finish in time and their races had to be abandoned.
The two White Group courses, which were nearer the north shore, managed to enjoy a little better wind. Jon Spencer started the Hunter 707 and J/80 classes on time and completed two races. New boats joining the 11-strong J/80 fleet took double honours with Vic Gregory and Rob Larke’s Joystick first followed by Charles Somerset on Loudwater. In the second race four J/80s managed to finish after a taxing two-hour race. Liz Lotz and Peter Young’s Lutine Belle was the sole finisher in the Hunter 707 class.
In a change to arrangements this year, the IRC4 class was given an earlier start at 1000 nearer the Hamble, started by Peter Knight’s team from the Laser SB3 line. Given a course which kept near the Meon shore, this class enjoyed a long race, for some nearly four hours, but the majority finished. In the end Crackajax (X-95 – Richard Hollis) beat Hobby Horse (Mustang 30 – Mike Fawcett) to the line by just over five minutes on handicap. The popularity of the Laser SB3s seems unabated, with many new sail numbers entered for this year’s series. After an hour’s postponement, the fleet got away successfully and the team led by Geoff Carveth, an established front-runner, on Creativity reached the line nearly one minute ahead of Chris Jennings’ Selden Masts after an hour-long race. Sponge Bob in third place was just nine seconds adrift. Places were equally close further down the results table with 45 seconds separating 13th to 17th places. As an area of calm drifted onto the racecourse, a second race was abandoned.
Back in the clubhouse, Fiona Pankhurst from Raymarine presented bottles of champagne to the class winners, while everyone relaxed for a well-earned beer and either enjoyed the garden or the England/France rugby match showing in the bar. The Raymarine Warsash Spring Series continues next Sunday 22nd March. New entries are welcome and can be made online at www.warsashsc.org.uk.