Glorious sunshine and a steady breeze made for a perfect first day of this year’s Warsash Spring Series last Sunday, 14 March. Competitors in the 170-strong entry list were out bright and early, some putting into practice lessons learned during a Jim Saltonstall training session organised by the Royal Southern Yacht Club the day before.
Black Group comprises four IRC classes plus one design starts for J/109, J/105 and J/92. The committee boat set up station between East Bramble and Universal Marina buoys. IRC1 had a laid windward mark near Calshot cardinal buoy with windward/leeward legs cascading to a finish at West Knoll. Niklas Zennstrom’s Farr 45 Ran made a near perfect start and then drew steadily ahead to take line honours, but Paul Turner’s lower rated Artemis (Grand Soleil 43B) was close enough to win on handicap. This was an excellent beginning for Artemis which is a Rolex Commodore’s Cup triallist. A significant wind shift towards the north then caused a postponement whilst the courses for the remaining classes were re-orientated. Enthusiasm to get under way was reined in and all classes got away first time.
IRC2 had an intriguing battle. Great Scott IV (Eurof Philips – Elan 410) took an early lead but this was gradually eroded over the next few legs as both Andrew Iyer’s Portia and Sailing Logic’s Visit Malta Puma overtook. These three boats pulled away from the pack and crossed the line within seconds of each other but with her more favourable handicap, Portia came out on top.
There were newcomers to IRC3 including a pair of Beneteau First 35s. The rating band ran from 0.955 up to 1.029, with the Elan 380 Brio the scratch boat. This range also included Aindriu McCormack’s X-99 2XS, successful winner of IRC4 in 2009. A short initial beat to Hamble Yacht Services found nine boats in close contention with many calls for water. Tom Snowball’s Beneteau 34.7 Mongoose came out best, was first to round and complete a fast spinnaker hoist. As the wind increased, touching 18 knots, there were decisions to be made on the best sail plan to get through the livelier sea state. The Bateson family’s Dehler 36 Starspray took line honours but dropped to third on handicap, giving Charles Wittam’s X-34 Juno a first place followed by Elaine. Results further down the list were also close with eighth to tenth places separated by under a minute. Sigma 38s were also racing in IRC3 with double scoring. This week it was Peter and Fiona Diamond’s Rapscallion, which headed this level-rated group.
The family of J/Boats in Black Group has increased this year by J/92s joining the J/105 start. Interestingly the finishing times of the two classes overlapped, showing that a better sailed small boat can keep up with the larger J/Boat design. The class wins went to Jos of Hamble (Roger Williams) and Jammin (Andrew Campbell). In the J/109s David and Kirsty Apthorp continued where they left off last year by sailing J-Dream to victory.
The smallest handicap class, IRC4, was given an earlier start from the Laser SB3 committee boat closer in shore. This group includes, among others, Sigma 33s, Mustang 30s, First 31.7s, half and quarter tonners. Early indications show a very competitive class. Michael Fawcett helming his Mustang 30 Hobby Horse hit the front early but again the chasing pack closed in and by the finish line Tim Rees and Derek Morland’s Menace III pipped him by 15 seconds. Crackajax (Richard Hollis and Ursula Bagnell) finished third but tied for second place with Hobby Horse on handicap.
Following the successful pattern of the past couple of years, White Group is split into two separate courses. The Laser SB3s races are run by Peter Knight with the J/80s and SBR Sportsboats under the care of Jon Spencer. Although the number of SB3s currently entered is slightly down at 39, the quality of racing is still very high. In addition to the regulars, the class had four French teams racing on the day. They were loaned boats by Solent owners and will be assessing whether the Laser SB3 should be established as a fleet in France. After two clean starts the third race saw two boats called OCS, including Race 1 winner Chris Jennings in Selden Masts. Race 2 winner 3 Sad Old Blokes (Jerry Hill) retired with minor damage to the foot of his mast. This left Geoff Carveth, holder of many titles including last year’s Spring Series champion, to take the final gun of the day.
In the J/80s another trophy holder from 2009 was competing but sadly this time Charles Somerset in Loudwater had to retire from the final contest having gained third place in the preceding races behind Terry Palmer’s Just Do It and Elle S’Appelle helmed by Thor Askeland. Mark Baskerville and Steve Sault took the final victory on board Hoolingkazan.
Back at Warsash Sailing Club after racing, the weekly class winners were presented with champagne whilst everyone enjoyed a well-earned rest and time to catch up with sailing friends at the beginning of the new season. Provisional results have been published on the Warsash Spring Series website but are subject to updating when remaining 2010 ratings are notified.
Provisional class winners
IRC1 Artemis (Grand Soleil 43B) Paul Turner
IRC2 Portia (First 40.7) Andrew Iyer
IRC3 Juno (X-34) Charles Wittam
IRC4 Menace III (Quarter Tonner) Derek Morland and Tim Rees
Sigma 38 Rapscallion Peter and Fiona Diamond
J/109 J-Dream David and Kirsty Apthorp
J/105 Jos of Hamble Roger Williams
J/92 Jammin Andrew Campbell
Race 1 Selden Masts Chris Jennings
Race 2 3 Sad Old Blokes Jerry Hill
Race 3 GBR3053 Geoff Carveth
Races 1 and 2 Just Do It Terry Palmer
Race 3 Hoolingkazan Mark Baskerville and Steve Sault
Races 1, 2, 3 Artificer (Hunter 707) Southampton University OTC/REME YC