Back after an Easter break, the Warsash Spring Series continued on 11 April with the entries topping 200. There were challenging conditions for Week 4 with the wind ranging between 9 and 14 knots. The general mean direction was from the northeast, but local conditions prevailed on the three separate race tracks. Jon Spencer, in charge of the White Group J/80s and SBR Sportsboats, was closest inshore and reported the wind moving to the east each time it faded.
A little further out, Peter Knight with the Laser SB3s and IRC4 start line found that although the wind varied over some 40 degrees, it returned quickly to the mean. In the middle of the Solent at ‘Flying Fish’ buoy, Black Group CRO David Greenway found the wind sufficiently stable to set the same basic course for all the keelboat classes, with only a minor adjustment for the smaller boats. The only interruption to a smooth start sequence came between the J/109 and IRC3 starts, when a second outer distance mark was laid to achieve a square line.
IRC1 got away on time and Jinja, Ian Matthews’ J/122, took a flyer from the pin end of the line and established a winning lead within the first 10 minutes of the race. Behind her, Paul Turner’s Grand Soleil 43 Artemis and the Army Sailing Association’s British Soldier had a close tussle until the last run when they split gybes. Artemis found more breeze on the left-hand side to gain a comfortable lead up to the last beat and finish at Universal Marina buoy. Jinja is the fourth different winner in IRC 1 so the class is wide open with two races to go.
IRC2 also got clean away but opinions amongst tacticians were more divided and the class spread out up the first beat. At the top mark the two Reflex 38s from the Sailing Logic group rounded first with a small lead over the rest. Tim Thubron helming Jaguar Logic held his lead round the gybe mark at Hill Head and south to Prince Consort but on the long second beat against the tide Visit Malta got ahead. Behind these two boats, Martin Moody helming Eurof Philips’ Elan 410 Great Scot IV slowly caught up and then passed the leader. He rounded West Ryde Middle with a 30 second lead but Philippe Falle driving Visit Malta put in a short tack, cleared his wind and then got a lift that saw him point higher to take the gun by 40 seconds. Great Scot IV finished ahead of Encore which took the win on handicap.
Unusually, the highly competitive J/109 class was slightly reluctant at the start. This gave David McCleman helming Offbeat, who had perhaps been watching the earlier starts, the golden opportunity to grab the favoured position at the pin end. He achieved an immediate lead. David Apthorp on J/Dream gained on the first beat and, although never far away, could not get close enough to cause danger. IRC3 and the combined J/105 and J/92 starts were subject to individual recalls.
As the wind lightened towards the Island shore, rounding Prince Consort buoy against the tide caused a few problems and the fleet became very spread out. John Barrett and Paul Woodward brought their new First 35 Stiletto home to take the first gun of her career but the higher handicap meant Juno and Jika-Jika took first and second places on handicap. Charles Wittam’s Juno has now won three of the four races and holds a good lead in the class. At the back of the fleet Domaine and Gambit ran out of time but benefited from the “out of time” provision in the Sailing Instructions. The smaller J class was finished early at the last windward mark. Rob Dornton-Duff in Java ended a run of third places with the J/105 win and Bill Howard his second consecutive success in the J/92s. Things are extremely tight at the top of the leaderboard in these two classes. Anyone who can put together two more good results over the remaining two weeks could change things dramatically.
The only perfect record remains intact. Derek Morland and Tim Rees on Menace III took an early lead in IRC4 but on the second beat back from Royal London to the mainland shore Michael Kershaw’s Chimp managed to overhaul them, leading by two minutes at the finish line. However, this was not sufficient of a threat, for when the relative handicaps had been applied, Menace III achieved her fourth straight win.
In White Group, the Laser SB3s were on their best behaviour with clean starts in every race. A long 90 minute first race was followed by two shorter ones and the fleet was still racing when everyone else was on their way back to the Warsash Sailing Club bar. Craig Burlton in Gill Race Team was out for the first time in the series and made an immediate impact. He took the morning race ahead of Geoff Carveth and then came third, behind Geoff and Chris Cousins in Rumbleflurg in the middle race before following Chris home in the final race.
No clear leader has yet emerged in the J/80 class. One of the main contenders, Terry Palmer’s Just Do It, was not out this weekend and his three “did not compete” scores have been added to his overall points total. John Cooper in Oi! took the first race but the RAF Team Spitfire made the best start of the second race. They managed to stay ahead of both Oi! and Charles Somerset’s Loudwater down the run but a poor spinnaker drop let both the others through. At the same time, Katie, working foredeck on Jannine Stoodley’s Wairua thought of having a quick swim, but after testing the water temperature decided against it and stayed on board. At the end of the third beat, Java Nano had made up a large deficit to round the mark in the lead but a poor tactical decision on the final run put her back in the pack. In the end, Loudwater took the gun a few boat lengths ahead of Oi!
Team Spitfire had their revenge in the final race establishing a small lead to the finish. Loudwater and Oi! finished virtually level, only two seconds separating them. In the small SBR Sportsboat class, it was a clean sweep with some smart teamwork by Southampton University OTC’s Artificer.
Provisional results – Warsash Spring Series, 11 April 2010
IRC1 Jinja (J/122) Ian Matthews
IRC2 Encore (First 40.7) Steven Anderson and Jane Curwen
IRC3 Juno 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 Java Rob Dornton-Duff
J/92 Wizard Bill Howard
Race 10 Gill Race Team Craig Burlton
Race 11 GBR3053 Geoff Carveth
Race 12 Rumbleflurg Chris Cousins
Race 10 Oi! John Cooper
Race 11 Loudwater Charles Somerset
Race 12 Spitfire RAF Team Spitfire
Races 10,11,12Artificer (Hunter 707) Southampton University OTC/REME YC