Again the wind was light - around 6 to 9 knots – but after an initial postponement, all classes eventually completed their races on schedule. The moon was reportedly closer to the Earth than at any time in the last 20 years, so tacticians had the challenge of strong west-going spring tides throughout the racing. Unusually, the breeze was less steady for the White Group of sportsboats racing in the entrance to Southampton Water and this fleet finished when Black Group were already heading for home.
IRC4 was the first class away at 1025 on a separate start line off the Meon shore. At the windward mark, two Mustang 30s Erik the Red and Hobby Horse rounded together and then engaged in a slow luffing battle all the way to the bottom mark at Royal Southern. There Hobby Horse had the inside berth but during this time Allan Fraser’s Sigma 33 Prospero of Hamble had used the wrangling ahead to catch up the pair and stayed in contention to the finish. Hobby Horse was the eventual winner with Prospero of Hamble 28 seconds adrift. Erik the Red sailed a different course down the last run which did not pay and dropped them to fourth place on handicap.
Just to the right of the IRC4 start line, CRO Peter Knight set up the courses for the sportsboat classes. The J/80s pushed the line on the first of their three races. The ‘X’ flag, signifying an individual recall, was raised and lowered constantly during the final minute with Jumping Jenga (Stewart Hawthorn) and Gordon Craigen’s Swallow over the line. Jumping Jenga returned to start properly and went on to make up ground for sixth place. Swallow either missed the recall flag or took a chance but had to score an OCS. Last week the RAF team on Spitfire was all-conquering, but this week they struggled to find the same form in similar conditions. Their scoreline of 5,5,3 just keeps them at the top of the table but seriously challenged by Aqua-J (Patrick Liardet) who took one race with Just Do It (Terry Palmer) and Jumping Jenga taking the others. Just Do It was one of three boats counting an OCS in the second race as the weather going tide eased.
At times it was hard going for the Laser SB3s. There was a general recall on the first start and for the next attempt Peter Knight sensibly used the black flag rule. Joe Llewellyn took the first gun from Jerry Hill’s 3 Sad Old Blokes with Jo Lloyd helming Robina into third place.
Andrew Oddie, out for the first time in the series, had good speed to take the second race in the family boat In Your Pocket. His dad David reckons this is a reference to who pays the bills! Rolatrack was second with Joe Llewellyn taking a podium place in third, keeping the pressure on at the top of the class. The final race saw the closest finish with Jerry Hill just half a foredeck and one second in front of Andrew Oddie. Sadly this was for fifth and sixth places since Joe Llewellyn had already added another win to his tally, extending his overall lead by five points.
Further east the Black Group committee boat anchored north of Fastnet Insurance buoy. Courses were designed and redesigned. The breeze showed 187° at 0915 as the course setters started their work and then clocked steadily round to 262 degrees at 1000 where it stayed from then on until 1400. Using a mixture of permanent and laid marks, the windward legs finished just east of the Bramble Bank. The runs against the tide were interspersed with a tight spinnaker reach to ring the changes.
IRC1 got off to a clean start and it was again the two Farr 45s Ran and Kolga that led the way but Mark Devereux’s Club Swan 42 Brevity kept in touch and by the finish at Hill Head was close enough to split them on handicap. Tarka II (First 40) and Arabella (J/111) kept close company all the way but with a slightly better handicap Tarka II (Peter Robson) clinched fourth place.
The increasing weather-going tide was always going to present tacticians with a problem timing runs into the line. In IRC2 it was two Sailing Logic Reflex 38s that fell foul of the line officer’s eagle eye and both returned to complete valid starts. Two First 40.7s led the way with Trustmarque Playing Around the eventual winner. Mike Moxley’s much lower rated HOD35 Malice took third place. What became noticeable at the leeward mark, Fastnet Insurance, was that the west going tide was much stronger than many boats anticipated. Those that ran down from the top mark in the main channel on port tack had much greater difficulty in judging the layline when they gybed onto starboard. Those who had come across towards the mainland shore first had a much easier life. In IRC3 X-Yachts and Stiletto gained a good lead to finish first and second with Jika-Jika third.
The J/109s had a cracking start and Matthew Boyle’s Shiva chose the committee boat end to take an early lead on the beat. The fleet rounded Royal London buoy nose to tail and hoisted spinnakers. By the time Fastnet Insurance had been reached Dom Monkhouse (Me Julie) had sneaked a short lead with Shiva in contention. These two extended their lead but on the last beat Shiva kept her lead while Me Julie slipped back into the clutches of J/Dream, Offbeat and Jahmali to finish fifth. This was close and exciting racing and the general consensus of the teams was that “it didn’t get much better”. The Diamond family and friends (Rapscallion) took their second win in the Sigma 38 class less than a minute ahead of Kindred Spirit.
The Warsash Spring Series continues on Sunday 27 March.
IRC1: RAN (Farr 45) Niklas Zennstrom
IRC2: Trustmarque Playing Around (First 40.7) Peter Robson
IRC3: X-Yachts (X-34) Guy Jackson
IRC4: Hobby Horse (Mustang 30) Michael Fawcett
Sigma 38: Rapscallion, Diamond family
J/109: Shiva, Matthew Boyle
Laser SB3: Race 1 and 3 GBR3082, Joe Llewellyn, Race 2 In Your Pocket, David and Andrew Oddie
J/80: Race 1 Just Do It, Terry Palmer, Race 2 Aqua-J, Patrick Liardet, Race 3 Jumping Jenga, Stewart Hawthorn.