For the third week running, the challenge greeting competitors in the Warsash Spring Series on 27 March was how to get their boats along in light conditions, when the breeze rarely reached double figures. For Black Group, a half hour lull gave three classes a real test to round the first leeward mark where a large parking lot built up. However, a gentle wind returned, with some classes completing their courses while others were shortened. White Group, off Hill Head, experienced an even shiftier breeze and did well to get the planned three races in for J/80s and two out of three for the Laser SB3s.
With the Black Group start on Ryde Middle Bank near Sunsail Events, the IRC1 fleet spread along the line and got away cleanly. IRC2 bunched at the outer distance mark but got away with an individual recall flag. Two boats were caught OCS. Philippe Falle brought Visit Malta Puma back, restarted on port tack, found clear air and rounded the windward mark in third place. The J/109s thought the committee boat was the place to start but were too keen and with a wind shift in the final minutes, were recalled. IRC3 and Sigma 38s were also subject to a general recall. The wind then continued to swing to the east and the race officers paused proceedings to allow for the courses to be recalculated.
When the sequence resumed, the tide had changed and was now running to weather. Three boats in the J/109 group were OCS but the remaining classes got away cleanly this time. The breeze faded slightly towards the windward mark at North East Ryde Middle where J/109s and IRC3 rounded bow to stern and on the downwind leg, they were joined by the leading Sigma 38s. The leeward mark was midway between North Ryde Middle and Mackley Construction where some 25 boats congregated. Several had to accept a penalty for touching the buoy which fortunately was a forgiving inflatable. After some shoving and shouting the log-jam cleared for a beat back to another laid mark before the courses for IRC2, IRC3 and Sigma 38s was shortened at the end of a spinnaker reach to Air Canada.
In IRC1 Mark Devereux in the Swan 42 Brevity was close enough behind Niklas Zennstrom’s higher rated Farr 45 Ràn to take the class win on corrected time. Visit Malta Puma recovered from their false start to be first across the line in IRC2 whilst the First 40.7 Encore (Steven Anderson and Jane Curwen) finished just astern and her 10 point advantage on handicap boosted her result to first. There was a runaway winner in IRC3. Stiletto (First 35 – John Barratt and Paul Woodward) rounded the windward mark with a one boat length lead and then pulled steadily away, reached the leeward mark in splendid isolation and went on to win by over five minutes. Second to fifth places were however much closer – within 13 seconds. At the halfway point in the series Stiletto has four points with her nearest rivals Jika-Jika and Blackjack level on 20. The top five boats in IRC4 raced nip and tuck for most of the course before Erik the Red (Bernard Fyans) managed to pull out a small lead over sistership Hobby Horse on the last reach. Me Julie (Dom Monkhouse) led up the first leg in the J/109s but then fell back into the pack letting through Jahmali (Mike and Sarah Wallis) to record their first win of the series by a comfortable margin.
If the Black Group suffered out in the central Solent, on the White Group sportsboat course the wind swings were more exaggerated. Both classes completed the first race and the J/80s were off on their second race when the wind swung to the south. The SB3 start was abandoned and the J/80s reached back and forth between their marks. When the wind had finally steadied enough for a true course to be laid, there was only time for one more race in each class. Even then, the breeze had one final trick to play as, with both classes on course, it swung back to the right making the beat a close fetch and the run a beam reach.
Three weeks into the Series, Joe Llewellyn (GBR3082) has a four point lead over World Champion Jerry Hill (3 Sad Old Blokes) in the Laser SB3 class with the next three places going to the top lady helms – Jo Lloyd, Sarah Allen and Ann Jackson. In the J/80s Stewart Hawthorn (Jumping Jenga) has a three point advantage over Patrick Liardet (Aqua-J) while Dan Brown (Henri Lloyd Shockwave) is one point ahead of Terry Palmer (Just Do It).
As Easter is late this year, the Warsash Spring Series continues without a break and reconvenes on Sunday 3 April followed by the Spring Championship on the final weekends of 9-10 and 16-17 April.
Results: Warsash Spring Series, Week 3, 27 March 2011
IRC 1 Brevity Swan Club 42 Mark Devereux
IRC 2 Encore First 40.7 Steven Anderson & Jane Curwen
IRC 3 Stiletto First 35 John Barrett & Paul Woodward
IRC 4 Erik the Red Mustang 30 Bernard Fyans
Sigma 38 Kindred Spirit Rob & Julie Lee
J-109 Jahmali Mike & Sarah Wallis
Race 1 3 Sad Old Blokes Jerry Hill
Race 2 GBR 3053 Geoff Carveth
Race 1 Jumping Jenga Stewart Hawthorn
Race 2 Jumping Jenga Stewart Hawthorn
Race 3 Oi! John Cooper