Warsash Spring Championship
Things were hotting up at Warsash Sailing Club this weekend in more ways than one. Firstly, the Spring Championship got underway with a full schedule of racing on Saturday as well as the Spring Series continuing into its fifth week on Sunday. Then the high pressure system gave rise to Mediterranean-style temperatures but it also meant the volcanic dust cloud remained over the UK. This put paid to racing for Scott Graham and his Laser SB3 team from Edinburgh as well as Andrey Selikhanovich from Moscow, who had planned to charter a Sunsail boat to compete on Sunday. Both were unable to fly in.
Warsash Spring Championship - 17 April
The Spring Championship takes place this year over the final two weekends of the Spring Series. Black Group classes include 'Big Boats' ranging from the Farr 52 Bob (formerly Bear of Britain) and the TP52 Pace to Jim MacGregor’s Elan 410 Flair. They were joined by Farr 45s, First 40.7s and J/109s, as well as the beautiful International 12 metre Italia. White Group starts were offered for Laser SB3s and J/80s with Quarter Tonners enjoying their Spring Championship. No discards are allowed for the Spring Championship – every race has to count.
On Saturday light conditions provided close and challenging racing. Peter Knight, CRO for the Laser SB3s, set up station inshore at Royal Southern buoy and set windward/leeward courses. He said: “I was expecting a difficult day but was pleased to find the wind stayed steady from the south-east in the 5/8 knot range. We used the same laid courses for four races. All the starts were very well behaved with only one individual recall all day. Our only disappointment was that the wind shifted slightly in the final race, making the last run one sided. On two occasions three boats finished one second apart and I even had to declare a dead heat between Bloo and Giraffe in Race 3. It was just too close to call.”
It was a good day for Craig Burlton and his crew on Gill Race Team who completed the day with nine points and no place lower than third. Oleg Zherebzor with Champagne Blonde was ten points adrift followed by Team Rola-Trac (Peter, Ben and Tim Saxton).
The J/80s’ and Quarter Tonners’ racing was managed by Jon Spencer. He too completed the full schedule of racing. Steve Chappell on Jango Fett in the J/80s took two wins, but slipped to ninth in Race 2 resulting in a total of 13 points. John Cooper in Oi! gained the top points for the day with only one win but a more consistent score.
Ten Quarter Tonners came to the line including Louise Morton on Espada and husband Peter on Anchor Challenge. Louise and her all-female crew took three wins and a second to top the leaderboard at the end of the day.
Further out in the Solent the Black Group committee boat was anchored near Universal Marina buoy. The wind was consistently from the southeast, again peaking at 8 knots but with much lighter patches. Here event Chairman Peter Bateson set windward/leeward courses for the Big Boats - Farr 45s, First 40.7s and J/109s. A mixture of fixed and laid marks was used reaching towards the eastern end of Ryde Middle Bank. Starts were all on time, with no general recalls or OCS scores and the full programme of races was completed. BB1 and Farr 45s were initially given a 5½ mile course, beating with the tide. By Race 2 the tide had slackened and the final two races had windward legs against the tide. In the afternoon Race 4 was shortened for BB1 and 40.7s halfway through. The J/109s enjoyed a short final race of just two miles but with the beat against a strong ebb tide in a fading breeze, that was certainly enough. In the Farr 45s, Jerry Otter had a good day in Werewolf. Further down the points were close between Stewart Whitehead (Rebel), Jack Pringle (Fraxious) and Niklas Zennstrom (Ràn). Johhny Vincent in Pace completed the day scoring two wins and two second places as did Andrew Iyer (Portia) in the First 40.7s. The runaway leader in the J/109s was Adam Wright in Velvet Elvis with J/Dream second.
Provisional results – Warsash Spring Championship First Weekend (17-18 April)
Farr 45 - Werewolf Gerry Otter
Big Boats - Pace Johnny Vincent
First 40.7 - Portia Andrew Iyer
J/109 - Velvet Elvis Adam Wright
J/80 - Jango Fett Steve Chappell
Laser SB3 - Gill Race Team Craig Burlton
Quarter Ton - Espada Louise Morton
Warsash Spring Series – 18 April
On Sunday the forecast was for even lighter winds. Some crews took a good supply of Sunday newspapers hoping this ruse would guarantee the arrival of a decent breeze. Unfortunately it didn’t work! Teams took the opportunity of carrying out minor repairs or just enjoyed the sunshine. The area round the Black Group committee boat at Universal Marina buoy soon resembled a boat park. Further inshore, the Laser SB3 fared no better and at noon they and all Black Group classes were abandoned.
Fortunately, Jon Spencer tucked up inshore against the Meon shore and found just enough early morning breeze funnelling down Southampton Water to get one race going for the J/80s, Sportsboats and Quarter Tonners. Even here the breeze faded away and the course was shortened at the bottom mark.
In the J/80s Jango Fett (Steve Chappell) made a cracking start at the pin end of the line. Halfway up the first beat there was nothing to separate the leaders as they crossed tacks. Jango Fett’s team read the wind well. Having gone left into deeper water they then put in a long hitch inshore before hitting the layline and making a tack out to the top mark. This was enough to give her the lead ahead of Oi! (John Cooper) and Spitfire (RAF SA). Oi! slowly pulled away but on the second run back Elle S’Appelle (Thor Askelund) gybed inshore immediately, kept more breeze and arrived at the top mark just behind the leader. This established the pecking order for the final lap.
The Quarter Tonners decided en bloc that the committee boat was the place to start. The exception was Louise Morton’s Espada which, having sailed across from Cowes, arrived two minutes late, dissected the fleet on port tack and headed inshore. This proved a good move and she had a clear lead at the top mark. The order was maintained down the run but on the second beat Whiskers (Ian Southworth) made up ground and with the two boats side by side they hit a speedboat’s wash. Whiskers rode this well, but Espada took slightly longer to get underway once more and lost the lead. Meanwhile Howard Sellers (Bullet) had elected to find more breeze going close in to the Meon shore and was able to take the lead with his as yet unrated boat. The run back became very slow as the wind dropped and the boats struggled against the tide, but Whiskers and Illegal Immigrant finished first equal on corrected time. Louise Morton and her team on Espada finished the provisional winner of the Quarter Ton Spring Championship on eight points. The boats now prepare to travel to Benodet next weekend, venue for their next class event.
J/80 - Race 13 Jango Fett Steve Chappell
SBR Sportsboats - Race 13 Artificer Southampton University OTC
Race 5 first equal Whiskers Ian Southworth
Illegal Immigrant William McNeil/Michael Pascall
Spring Champion Espada Louise Morton
Full results here