On Saturday a strong but steady 250 degree wind produced exciting conditions for the first day of the Hamble Big Boat Series. With a few broken halyards, some crew injuries, and a collision between two yachts, the IRC fleet dwindled from seven starters to three by the third race. Demanding conditions perhaps, but spinnakers were flown throughout as the gusts topped 30 knots.
In the IRC class Neil Martin's J/133 Jammy Dodger scored three firsts from Ian Matthews J/122 Jinja. The other J/133, Bill Blain's Batfish III and Charles Ivill's John B were forced to retire from Race 2 after a heavy collision. The 45ft Level Racing Class, now consisting exclusively of Farr 45s, saw Shaun & Emily Frohlich's Exabyte 4 as the most consistent, scoring 1,2,2 out of the six boats entered.
On Sunday morning a more moderate and shifty westerly breeze provided a perfect opener for the main Garmin series, with the midday high water providing an ideal scenario for the race committee. Black Group racing was set along the Brambles Bank with windward marks at the Air Canada and Flying Fish buoys, while the White Group set up closer to the mainland shore.
With more breeze than forecast the windward leeward courses set for the Black Fleet races produced tight racing, with a gain for those on the left in Race Two as the breeze gradually swung from 265 to 230 degrees. This popular two races per day programme will reduce to one race after the mid series break based on competitor feedback, while for the sportsboats three races per day continues throughout the series.
With regatta entries generally down during 2009 it was no surprise to see thinner entries in some classes, but competition at the front of each class is clearly up to standard, with some mid-placed boats from last year s series making their way to the front. This was noticeable in the IRC1 Class with the brace of Beneteau 40.7s, Tradition Philosophie IV and Encore. The newly revonated Quarter Tonner Menace of Messrs. Morland and Rees scored 2 & 1 in IRC4, the Apthorp's J-Dream won both races in the J-109 class, and Ann Jackson's Excuse me Gents also impressed in the SB3 class winning the first two races.
Next weekend (10/11 October) also sees the Autumn Championships for Laser SB3, J/80, and J/109, with the conclusion of the Hamble Big Boat Series the following weekend.
White Fleet Race Winners:
Race 1 & 2, Excuse Me Gents Ann Jackson
Race 3, Chill Pill Nick Elder & Scott Graham
Race 1, Hoolingkazan Steve Sault & Mark Baskerville
Race 2, Boats.Com Ian Atkins
Race 3, Oil! John Cooper
Race 1, X-Static Tom Grigsby
Races 2 and 3, Coriace 2 3D Nexus Ltd
Black Fleet Race Winners:
Races 1and 2, Biela Richard Barnes
Race 1, Tradition Philosophie IV Nicolas Gaumont-Prat
Race 2 Great Scot IV Eurof Phillips and Barbara Mackam
Race 1 Malice Mike Moxley
Race 2, Starspray Bateson Family
Race 1 Manaru Tony Dickin
Race 2, With Alacrity Chris & Vanessa Charles
Race 1 Prospero of Hamble Allan Fraser
Race 2, Menace Derek & James Morland and Tim Rees
Race 1, Voador , Simon Curwen
Race 2, Fay-J , Paul Griffiths
Races 1 & 2, J Dream David & Kirsty Athorp