The last weekend of the Warsash Spring Series and Spring Championship took place over 16-17 April. The series, which has been running since 1984 and now involves over 100 Warsash members afloat and ashore, was different this year with persistent light conditions which race officers cannot remember happening before. On only two days did the wind stay in double figures but more often than not loitered in the 5-8 range for racing. This may have meant less toll on boats and equipment but a real challenge, especially for tacticians and helms.
Saturday 16th April – Warsash Spring Championship Day 3
The seven classes in the Spring Championship were joined this week by quarter tonners. Again a high pressure system hung over the Solent – wonderful sunshine but the water resembled a mill pond. The postponement flag was raised at 0950 with race officers constantly checking for wind in the area. As the day wore on, there had been no change or likelihood of a breeze filling in by soon after midday and there was no choice but to cancel all racing for the day. This proved to be a wise move since although a 6 knot breeze did perk up in the afternoon, it vanished again within half an hour.
Sunday 17th April – Warsash Spring Series Day 6 and Spring Championship Day 4
The forecast promised slightly better conditions for Sunday but as the Black Group fleet gathered near East Knoll, it looked unlikely. When the first signal was due to be sounded, visibility was obscured by a veil of haze from which emerged a stream of commercial traffic inbound for Southampton. The postponement flag was hoisted and race officers made the first of several radio announcements to keep competitors aware of their intentions. Shortly after noon, everyone’s patience was rewarded. A sout-easterly breeze filled in and, whilst never more than 8 knots, was sufficient to allow racing.
Courses were set with Flying Fish the first windward mark, followed by runs and beats in the area of Hill Head and Universal Marina. With some classes combined, the first start consisted of IRC1, Big Boat and Farr 45s. With a strong adverse tide, some skippers were slow to reach the line and AP was flown again to allow these boats to clear the line. This also coincided with a brief wind shift and when it had steadied again came the turn of IRC2 and J/109 classes with a slightly shorter course. The ODM end of the line was favoured. Trustmarque Playing Around (IRC2) and Offbeat (J/109) both got clear air and made significant gains to lead their classes at the first mark, going on to take line honours. The new MAT1010 was entered just for the final race by Louise Morton. With her lower handicap she pushed Trustmarque Playing Around into second place to win IRC2.
In the final Black Group start at 1325 for IRC3 and Sigma 38s, the Diamond family’s Sigma 38 Rapscallion attempted to dip the line from the windward side but was judged to have failed to make a proper start. This left the way clear for With Alacrity (Chris and Vanessa Choules) to record their third consecutive win and take the overall class title. The IRC3 class included a mixture of bowsprit and conventional spinnaker designs. Competition for a podium place had largely been between Stiletto (First 35 – John Barrett and Paul Woodward) and Guy Jackson’s X-34 X-Yachts. Between them, these two boats had won every race, with Stiletto holding the advantage going into the last day. Final honours went to X-Yachts with a near six minute advantage over her nearest rival but she had not entered the first race. Stiletto finished fourth on this final day and that was enough to win the series.
On the White Group sportsboats’ racing area, the wind had arrived a little earlier. The first set of races got away cleanly only then to suffer the large wind shift experienced further out. The J/80 fleet was boosted by entries for the Spring Championship, but this was balanced by some of the Laser SB3s deciding to pack up early and make their way to the West Country for the pre-World Open event in a couple of weeks’ time. Ian Atkins sailing Dan Brown’s Henri Lloyd Shockwave took the first J/80 race ahead of Aqua-J (Patrick Liardet) and Robin Fielder helming Warp Factor IX. Ben Saxton, sailing his father’s SB3 Rola-Trac finished nearly a minute ahead of Jerry Hill (3 Sad Old Blokes) with Roger Hudson’s entry Spirit of Cape Town in close attendance.
Life was not so simple for the start of the second set of races. The quarter tonners were first away cleanly. The J/80s then had a rush of blood to the head and were recalled. The Laser SB3s did the same. Everyone had another go and this time successfully. However, the clock was ticking and it became clear that this would have to be the final race.
On the first lap, Henri Lloyd Shockwave established a lead over Aqua-J and Jumping Jenga (Stewart Hawthorn). These positions were maintained on the second run but then the two boats became involved in a luffing match as they approached the bottom mark. When they gybed for the final time they found that Jumping Jenga’s layline from closer inshore was the better one. This allowed Stewart Hawthorn to round the mark in the lead and complete the short reach to the finish seven seconds ahead. Rola-Trac reached the top mark first in the SB3s just ahead of 3 Sad Old Blokes and Sailboat Deliveries (Sarah Allen). However, the second lap was to see a change in fortunes. Spirit of Cape Town made the right decisions to take the lead while Rola-Trac dropped one place and Trouble and Strife (Ian Armstrong) climbed up several places to take third.
The Spring Championship does not allow discards and six races were finally counted to decide the overall standings. In the Laser SB3s, Oleg Zherebstov’s Team Russia was the only team to score two wins but they did not compete on the final weekend. This gave the title to Spirit of Cape Town (Roger Hudson) ahead of 3 Sad Old Blokes and Gill Race Team, both of which missed the final race. The J/80 Spring Championship winner was Henri Lloyd Shockwave, just one point ahead of Aqua-J with the RAF’s Team Spitfire third.
There was no catching Niklas Zennstrom’s Ràn in the Farr 45 class Spring Championship while Velvet Elvis headed the J/109s. The Farr 52 Bob counted only first and second places to win the Big Boat 1 division, while Tokoloshe with three wins from six races finished nine points ahead of Quokka 8 in the Big Boat 2 class.
In the Spring Series, Ràn led Brevity on overall points in IRC1. Trustmarque Playing Around was the runaway winner in IRC2 although the lower rated Malice put up a brave fight, including two wins, to take second place. IRC4 counted five races with the two Mustangs Erik the Red and Hobby Horse level on points, but Erik the Red’s three wins gave her the class title. In the one-design groups Jahmali led Shiva in the J/109s while With Alacrity finished the series with a hat trick of first places to take the Sigma 38s.
In challenging light conditions the fact that the vast majority of races were completed is a credit to the patience of the race management team and the competitors in equal measure. The prizegiving will be held on Friday 20 May when all competitors and crews will be welcome at Warsash Sailing Club’s Shore House to join club members in celebrating a very successful event. The 2012 Warsash Spring Series starts on Sunday 11 March.
Warsash Spring Series, Week 6, 17th April 2011– provisional results
IRC 1 Bob Farr 52 Rob Gray, Sam Laidlaw & Tony Hayward
IRC 2 MAT 1010 Mat 1010 Louise Morton
IRC 3 X-Yachts X-34 Guy Jackson
IRC 4 Hobby Horse Mustang 30 Michael Fawcett
Sigma 38 With Alacrity Chris & Vanessa Choules
J/109 Offbeat David McLeman
Race 1 Rola-Trac Peter Saxton
Race 2 Spirit of Cape Town Roger Hudson
Race 1 Henri Lloyd Shockwave Dan Brown
Race 2 Jumping Jenga Stewart Hawthorn
Races 1 & 2 Alice II Rickard Melander
Warsash Spring Series – provisional overall class winners
IRC 1 Ran Farr 45 Niklas Zennstrom
IRC 2 Trustmarque Playing Around Peter Robson
IRC 3 Stiletto First 35 John Barrett & Paul Woodward
IRC 4 Erik the Red Mustang 30 Bernard Fyans
J/109 Jahmali Mike & Sarah Wallis
Sigma 38 With Alacrity Chris & Vanessa Choules
J/80 Aqua – J Patrick Liardet
Laser SB3 3 Sad Old Blokes Jerry Hill
Warsash Spring Championship – provisional overall class winners
Big Boat 1 class Bob Farr 52 Rob Gray, Sam Laidlaw & Tony Hayward
Big Boat 2 class Tokoloshe King 40 Michael Bartholomew
Farr 45 Ran Farr 45 Niklas Zennstrom
First 40.7 Trustmarque Playing Around Peter Robson
J/109 Velvet Elvis Velvet Elvis Racing
Laser SB3 Spirit of Cape Town Roger Hudson
J/80 Henri Lloyd Shockwave Dan Brown
Quarter Tonners Alice II Rickard Melander