The third week of Warsash Sailing Club’s Spring Series saw the first southwesterly breeze of the season. The wind stayed true in direction with the strength varying from 10 to 14 knots, providing near ideal sailing conditions, if still cold. Despite the clocks going forward, competitors were out early for practice with new entries joining the fleets.
The Black Group committee boat anchored near Hamble Yacht Services buoy and used Air Canada, close to the Bramble Bank, as the first windward mark with a finish at East Knoll. Adjustments were made to the lengths of the courses with IRC1 completing 15 miles and IRC3 12.5 miles. IRC4 used a White Group start line but also finished with the other Black Group boats at East Knoll after a course covering over 10 miles. High water occurred during the start sequence, so competitors had the favoured combination of beats with the current and runs against it. Tacticians kept careful watch of the depth to benefit from or dodge the tide.
The number of 'Big Boats' competing has increased as their Spring Championship after Easter approaches. Johnny Vincent’s TP52 Pace slowly pulled away from the Farr 45 Ran (Niklas Zennstrom). Finishing almost half an hour apart on the water, the first four boats had a nail-biting result with only 28 seconds between them on corrected time after handicaps were applied. However, after two hours’ racing, the better handicapped Ran took the win by 11 seconds. The third and fourth placed boats Jammy Dodger (Neil Martin) and Artemis (Paul Turner) were 13 and 17 seconds further back. The closeness of the result for widely differing boats was a great testimony to the IRC rating system.
IRC2 was the first class of the series in Black Group to blot their copybook with a general recall. Bunching at the outer distance mark meant that they had to be sent to the back of the start sequence but even then there were a number of individual recalls at the second attempt. Malice, Moya and Visit Malta all made good their errors, but No Retreat and Great Scot IV failed to return. This was particularly galling for Eurof Phillips helming Great Scot IV as, after a real battle round the course with Andrew Iyer’s First 40.7 Portia, he reached the finishing line first - only to get no result. This left Portia to claim a third consecutive win ahead of Jaguar Logic and Tradition Philosphie IV. Tangaroa and Visit Malta tied for fourth place.
The smaller boats were set a slightly different second leg to Sunsail Events and this proved to be a fine spinnaker reach. In the 33-strong IRC3 group the Bateson family’s Dehler 36 Starspray took an early lead, but behind her the fleet was closely packed. It was only later in the race that the eventual winner, Charles Whittam’s X-34 Juno, managed to get close enough to make his lower handicap pay. This is Juno’s second win in three races and gives her a good lead going into the Easter break. The results extracted from IRC 3 for the ten Sigma 38s competing saw Rob Denning and John Rainger’s Light the top boat, finishing over three minutes ahead of the nearest sistership With Alacrity as well as scoring a third place in class.
At the J/109 start an individual recall caused both J/Dream and Just So to return and give the others a head start. Last week’s winner Offbeat (David McLeman) was unlucky to suffer sail damage when lying second and had to retire. This left Jeez Louise (James Arnell) with a clear lead. The team on J-Dream have proved very hard to beat over the past two seasons. This week, despite their early mistake, they worked hard to catch and overtake Jeez Louise before the penultimate mark. This second win gives them a two point lead in the series.
The standings are even tighter in the J/105 class. Paul Griffiths, helming Fay-J, won his second race, but is tied with Rob Dornton-Duff (Java) in the series, just one point behind leader Chris Jones’ Journeymaker 5. Roger Williams on Jos of Hamble won the first race of the series and is a further one point adrift overall.
The J/92 division has produced three different winners. This week Bill Howard’s Wizard cast a spell over the opposition, although Dominic Homer’s Jekyll has sailed consistently well to lead the class on series points.
IRC4 enjoyed a very close race. As the largest boat in the class, Simon Law’s Dehler 36 Polly’s Kettle took full advantage of her extra waterline speed to take the gun but behind her the rest of the fleet battled away. On the final legs Menace III managed to put some daylight between herself and the Mustang 30s. Even so, she could not catch the leader or Alan Fraser’s Sigma 33 Prospero of Hamble. However, third was good enough to give Tim Rees and Derek Moreland their third win on handicap and a perfect score at the halfway point of the series.
Having sent IRC4 on their way, the team on Knight’s Challenge then had the task of getting the Laser SB3s racing. The first two attempts produced general recalls but the final result for Race 7 could not have been closer. After an hour’s racing, the first six boats finished within 30 seconds. Chris Cousins squeezed Rumbleflurg home just one second ahead of Team Rola-Trac (Saxton family) to take his first win this series.
Geoff Carveth then stepped up the pace to take the next race ahead of the Saxtons and Jerry Hill in 3 Sad Old Blokes. In the final race, only Team Rola-Trac was called back and at the top mark Rumbleflurg led a group of four boats. Carveth was caught on a port and starboard incident and had to take a 720 degree penalty on the spreader leg. This dropped him back in the pack. Andrew Oddie helming In Your Pocket was going well in second place and the order more or less remained on the second beat. On the run it was noticeable that Carveth sailed a wider line on the port gybe and picked up more speed. Judging the layline perfectly he arrived at the bottom gate in fourth place but then a poor hoist combined with the decision to stay out to the right let the others go left to pick up better pressure. Rumbleflurg and In Your Pocket made enough gains downwind to keep their positions to the line.
On the other White Group course area, John Cooper helming the J/80 Oi! had taken the first race from Terry Palmer’s Just Do It by 12 seconds. In the middle race, it looked as if Palmer was going to get his revenge. He held a small lead from Cooper at the top mark with Charles Somerset in Loudwater also mixing it. However over the next couple of legs, Cooper made the right moves to edge ahead and finish 15 seconds up crossing the line. Cooper then made a clean sweep by taking the last race with the RAF’s entry Spitfire in second ahead of Loudwater.
The SBR Sportsboats class is the domain of the Hunter 707s. Liz Lotz and Peter Lloyd on Lutine Belle missed the first day’s racing, but over the last two weekends have shared honours with the Southampton University OTC entry Artificer, which leads on series points.
The Warsash Spring Series now takes a break for Easter and reconvenes on 11 April. The final weekends of 17-18 and 24-25 April lead up to a grand finale with the addition of Saturday racing for the Spring Championship.
Provisional results – Warsash Spring Series
IRC1 Ran (Farr 45) Niklas Zennstrom
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 Light Rob Denning
J/109 J-Dream David and Kirsty Apthorp
J/105 Fay-J Paul Griffiths
J/92 Wizard Bill Howard
Races 7, 9 Rumbleflurg Chris Cousins
Race 8 GBR3053 Geoff Carveth
Races 7,8,9 Oi! John Cooper
Race 7, 9 Artificer (Hunter 707) Southampton University OTC/REME YC
Race 8 Lutine Belle (Hunter 707) Liz Lotz and Peter Young