Bring on the big boats
With a forecast south-easterly, the Black Group committee boat set up station near Air Canada buoy with South Ryde Middle as the first windward mark. Cutting Edge (TP52 - Robert Lutener and Martin Elwood) had a good day winning by 12 seconds from Jinja (J/122 - Ian Matthews) in the first race and by a 30 second margin from Batfish III (J/133 - Bill Blain) in the second. It was good to see that Richard Rankin had brought his 12 metre to the line and, although not as fast as the latest designs, Italia is still a splendid sight. At this point John Patterson’s Panacea holds the series lead.
The remaining Black Group classes shared the same course, with shy spinnaker reaches interspersed with beats and runs, giving over two hours of close exhilarating racing. IRC2 had a good but aggressive start and the fleet spread out on the first leg, opinions being divided on the best route against the tide. The leaders had overtaken the backmarkers of IRC1 by the mark and calculating the right layline was critical. Paul Turner’s Artemis (Grand Soleil 43) on port tack had to give way to a pair of Elan 410s – Great Scot IV and Premier Flair. She then lost her wind and way. Sadly by the time she had fought free, half the class had sailed round her. The short leg across to North Ryde Middle proved just too tight for spinnakers. First 40.7s filled the leading places, with only Sailing Logic’s Reflex 38 Puma Logic managing to keep up with them. On the run back to Flying Fish, Addiction (Tim Thubron/Activ) gained a few more yards over Tarka (Guy Prest) and Portia (Andrew Iyer) and this leading group stayed tight until the finish. Addiction is now the only boat to hold a perfect score and is in a commanding position for the overall title.
The J/109 class shows a good mix of old and new faces. With one race abandoned, Mike and Sarah Willis on Jahmali went into the day’s racing holding a one point lead. They were forced to tack away just after the start and took some time to find clear air. This meant they reached the top mark behind Adam Wright’s Jouster/Velvet Elvis which led the fleet home. Further down a real tussle ensued between J-Dream (David and Kirsty Apthorp), Beth (Guy Knight), Shiva (Matthew Boyle) and Red Arrow (RAFSA) - all in third place at some stage - although J-Dream gained at the last turning mark and kept up the pace to the finish. After only two races, Voador (Simon Curwen), Fay-J (Paul Griffiths) and Java (Rob Dornton-Duff) are on level points in first place for the J/105s. In IRC 3 Mongoose (Patrick Snowball) gained a second win but the racing was close. Under one minute separated 5th to 9th places, with Persephone of London the top Sigma 38 in the class this week.
On the White Group sportsboat courses, there was very nearly a hat-trick of victories in all three classes. Craig Burlton ( Gill Race Team) was unstoppable in the Laser SB3s with Geoff Carveth in Cre8tivity following him home in each race. Jerry Hill ( 3 Sad Old Blokes) has two third places to keep him in the hunt. Vic Gregory and Rob Larke ( Joystick) still dominate the J/80s - three more wins making them virtually out of sight. Rob and Jon Fox ( Jevan), having missed one Sunday, recorded two second places and moved up the table. Liz Lotz and Peter Young ( Lutine Bell) took the first Hunter 707 race before Matt Gagnon and Katia Merle got in the groove to take the next two guns in Scaramouche.
The Raymarine Warsash Spring Series now takes a week’s holiday for Easter before resuming on 18-19 April for the first day of the sportsboats’ Spring Championship and the fifth Sunday for the Spring Series. IRC3, IRC4 and the J/105 classes are all scheduled to have two races to make up for races abandoned.
Raymarine Warsash Spring Championship
The Spring Championship got underway with two days’ racing dedicated to 'Big Boat' racing under IRC, with 45 footers level-rated and 40.7s. The 15-strong BB1 class included Peter Harrison’s Farr 52 Chernikeeff 2 with two TP52s - Cutting Edge and John Merricks II. Nine Farr 45s contended the 45 foot class.
On Saturday 4 April, the early morning breeze faded and moved to the northwest, making the second lap a one-sided beat. This helped the bigger boats to take both line and handicap honours. The 40.7s found this beat against a strong tide a real struggle but Nicolas Gaumont-Prat ( Tradition Philosophie IV) made the best of the conditions to win from Guy Prest’s Tarka by a minute.
Over the following 90 minutes the wind became very unstable and it was not until 1330 when the committee boat moved back to Royal Southern buoy that sufficient steady wind was found to set a fair course. Using East Knoll as the top mark, everyone enjoyed two further good races in a 15 knot west-southwesterly breeze.
Jerry Otter ‘s Farr 45 Werewolf won all three races in the 45 foot class. Cutting Edge proved the fastest in BB1 with a 2,1,1 scoreline, establishing an early lead in the Championship. The 40.7s were much closer with a different winner in each race. At the end of the day, Andrew Iyer ( Portia) held a one point lead from Tradition Philosophie IV with Peter Robson ( Playing Around) another point adrift in third.
The following day BB1 and the Farr 45s joined the main IRC1 class and the First 40.7s raced in IRC2. Cutting Edge again dominated BB1 and ended the weekend 19 points ahead of Chernikeeff II. Werewolf continued her winning streak in the first race but then could only manage a fourth in the afternoon. By winning the second race, Rebel (Stewart Whitehead) has pulled back some points to lie second overall. In the 40.7s, Tradition Philosophie IV has taken the narrowest of leads into the final weekend but Portia, Playing Around and Tarka could all be in contention for the overall title.
The Raymarine Warsash Spring Championship continues for the White Group sportsboats on 18-19 April and a grand finale for all Championship classes and the Spring Series on 25-26 April.
More photos on page 2...