Slow day on the Solent
The sunshine continued for the second week of Warsash Sailing Club’s Spring Series on 21 March, but in stark contrast to week one, the breeze was often elusive and tricky. The weather forecasts varied, with wind speeds ranging from 4 to 15 knots, but in the main agreed a north-westerly was due to back to the southwest or south.
IRC4 benefited from a start line off Hill Head harbour and the CRO Phillip Gage got them away on time. The fleet immediately tacked onto port, making for the shore to avoid the strong east-going tide. Last week’s winner Menace III (Derek Morland/Tim Rees) slowly edged their way ahead, to round the laid windward mark with a small lead which they extended on the run. On the second beat, both Allan Fraser’s Sigma 33 Prospero of Hamble and Simba (X-95 - Paul Marshall) stayed out in the tide awaiting the forecast wind shift. This certainly paid off. They were the first to find the new wind, while other boats lay becalmed inshore. Menace III clawed her way back to third place and then overhauled Simba. Prospero then made the classic error of misjudging the layline to the next mark by which time they had slipped to mid-fleet leaving Menace III to record their second consecutive win.
From the same start line, the White Group Laser SB3s had a clean start for Race 1, but there was less certainty on tactics for the first beat. Laser Chaotic (Jim Eynon) started well under the committee boat and tacked straight away for the shore, followed by most of the 37–strong fleet. Ann Jackson helming Excuse Me Gents made the brave and conscious decision to stay out in the tide and get the better breeze. As the wind lightened, those inshore slowed drastically while Excuse Me Gents kept moving, arriving at the windward mark with a healthy lead. Once round the spreader mark, the tide took her back to the bottom of the course where the race was shortened. Chill Pill (Scott Graham and Nick Elder) and Rumbleflurg (Chris Cousins) managed to break away from the pack for the minor placings and the rest of the fleet finished in their usual close order. Now the wind was on the move and the next race was postponed for an hour to allow the new wind, from the southwest, to steady. In the improved conditions, there were fewer tactical choices. Geoff Carveth in his, as yet unnamed, boat GBR3053 took the gun by 30 seconds with second to sixth places finishing within another minute. At this point the wind oscillated, without settling sufficiently for a final race.
The J/80s completed three races, under CRO Peter Knight this week. Oi! (John Cooper) took the first with Spitfire (Team Spitfire) ending the day on a high with two wins. However the points table showed Terry Palmer’s Just Do It ahead after six races. Southampton University’s Officer Training Corps pulled out all the stops in the SBR Sportsboat class, maintaining the series lead in their Hunter 707 Artificer, scoring one first and two second places this week.
Looking for sufficient depth of water, the Black Group committee boat set up station on Ryde Middle. After a short postponement, the first three classes set off on an initial beat to a laid windward mark between Flying Fish and Universal Marina buoys. Immediately after the J/109 class was underway the wind died and remaining classes were postponed. By 1105, conditions were so fickle that the J/109 race was abandoned by PRO David Greenway with competitors called back to the start area for another go. IRC1 and IRC2 made their way painfully slowly to the first mark, some taking a very long way round to go inshore out of the tide. It was not until after midday that the breeze returned sufficiently for the J/109s and remaining classes to start on a shortened course set by Series Chairman Peter Bateson based on a wind direction of 270 degrees. The wind again lightened and by the time boats reached the gybe mark, North Ryde Middle, the faint easterly cancelled out the Needles breeze. It was not unusual to see spinnakers hoisted on boats heading in opposite directions and the classes gathered in increasing numbers at a 'parking lot'. As the wind slowly returned, the leading J/109s eased away when boats were evenly divided on tactics. For a while it looked as if the group to the south had made the right choice but when David McLeman brought Offbeat out on a long starboard tack he had a clear lead at Air Canada, which he maintained over the final two legs.
The latest period of light airs had persuaded the Race Committee to shorten IRC1 at South East Ryde Middle and IRC2 at Browndown at the end of a run. There were only two finishers in IRC1 and this week’s champagne went to Jolly Jellyfish. Andrew Iyer’s Portia took both line and handicap honours in IRC2, giving a faultless score over the two weeks. Carol Lo brought the X-35 Flying Pigs home in second place and might have won but for the penalty they had accepted earlier in the race. The courses for IRC3, J/105 and J/92s were also shortened. Bill Blain’s new J/97 Batfish was the first of the IRC3 boats to escape the doldrums at the bottom mark and had established a four minute lead by the time they reached the finish.
The Warsash Spring Series runs on Sundays until 25 April, with a break for Easter. New entries are welcome and enquiries can be made to Warsash Sailing Club on 01489 583575, firstname.lastname@example.org
Provisional results – Warsash Spring Series 21st March 2010
IRC1 Jolly Jellyfish (J/122) Jellyfish Charters
IRC2 Portia (First 40.7) Andrew Iyer
IRC3 Batfish IV (J/97) Bill Blain/Paul Heys
IRC4 Menace III (Quarter Tonner) Derek Morland and Tim Rees
Sigma 38 With Alacrity Chris and Vanessa Choules
J/109 Offbeat David McLeman
J/105 Fay-J Paul Griffiths
J/92 Jaya Rory and Cathy Staunton
Race 4 Excuse Me Gents Ann Jackson
Race 5 GBR3953 Geoff Carveth
Races 4 Oi! John Cooper
Races 5 and 6 Spitfire Team Spitfire
Races 4 and 5 Lutine Belle (Hunter 707) Lloyds Yacht Club
Race 6 Artificer (Hunter 707) Southampton University OTC/REME YC
Full results here