Light airs lottery

A report from day one of the Red Funnel Easter Challenge

Saturday April 10th 2004, Author: Trish Jenkins, Location: United Kingdom
The 13th Red Funnel Easter Challenge attracted a large fleet of boats out onto the Solent race course today for the start of the three day tuning regatta organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

With difficult light conditions and a strong spring tide, only one race was completed this afternoon. The light northerly breezes gave Chief Race Officer, Jamie Wilkinson and his team of race officers a challenging time in setting courses for the fleet.

The total fleet of 76 boats consisted of 64 competing in IRC classes, 10 in IRM 1 and 2 in IRM2 and saw several 2003 winners back to defend their titles including: Kit Hobday's Farr 52, Bear of Britain (IRC Super Zero), Shaun Frohlich's IMX 45 Exabyte III (Zero) and Tim Harrington's HOD 35 Capitali$m (IRC 2).

On the conditions, RORC Chief Race Officer, Jamie Wilkinson commented: "We had a very difficult day. We are only just coming off some of the highest spring tides of the year right now and when we first went out, the wind was already about 6-7 knots at 030. It was predicted to shift left about 10 degrees an hour so at the end of the day it was supposed to be about 27, starting at 330. It was always going to be drifting left. With the angle of the wind we needed to be down on the Ryde Bank because we didn't want the boats too close to shore as it gets very shifty in there. This meant we were in the strong tide."

Unfortunately having started the big boats first, the wind went hard right just before the start and there was a general recall. The rest of the fleet got away very soon after the wind went hard left and they had a very poor race as the wind was having a shift of 40-50 degrees.

Jamie continues: "Before we could start the big boats again the sea breeze started to come in and it went completely flat. It went even further left and so we sat there with no wind. Finally we did get a race around 1525, but many of the boats sat there going nowhere for long periods. At this point we realised there was never going to be a chance to get another race in today."

Once ashore though, the best wind of the day arrived too late as competitors crammed into a packed media centre in Cowes Yacht Haven to listen to the infamous Jim Saltonstall's post race debrief, now a trademark of this popular Easter tuning regatta. Crews watched with interest the video footage he and his team had shot out on the water today and discussed today's difficult light conditions.

Jamie Wilkinson summed up the day: "We did the best we could and managed to get in one race for everybody and that's not bad in the circumstances."

Results: Race 1: Day 1: Friday 9 April 2004

1. Bear of Britain - Kit Hobday & Tim Louis
2. Minnie the Moocher - Anthony Richards
3. Yes - Adam Gosling

1. I've had Ya Mumm - Edd Clayson & John Gimson
2. Offbeat - Ian Gill
3. Salvo - Peter Morton

1. Jeronimo - Jonathan & Lisa Goring
2. Voodoo Chile - Eamon Crosbie
3. Zarafa - Peter Schofield

1. Sareema - Robert McLeod
2. Evelyn R - Rory Carter & Jon Yorke
3. Software Mistress - Ian Maclean

1. Atomic - Peter Morton & Adrian Stead
2. 2XL - David Murrin
3. El Gringo - Nick Hartshorn

1. Alice - Simon Henning
2. Zzing - Bob Fisher

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