The Garmin Hamble Winter Series entered its second half on Sunday with thick fog drifting down the Hamble river in the early morning. But competitors expecting wintry conditions were surprised by bright sunshine and a fluctuating, light and shifty breeze that offered big gains for those who kept in phase with the shifts.
A strong west-going tide at the start made time-on-distance calls important as the classes got clean away to beat their way from near Universal Marina buoy towards Hill Head and South Coast Sailing. As the tide turned, boats rounded their leeward marks and began a long beat against the tide and in a fickle breeze up the Hill Head shoreline towards the finish at Coronation.
Gains were there for the taking for those with the confidence to stand on inshore and cheat the tide – and for those with well-calibrated depth sounders.
Taking full advantage of the unseasonable weather was Simon Henning’s Alice, who ventured out for their first race of the Garmin Hamble Winter Series. They took first place in IRC 0, ahead of Dr Ivan Trotman’s J/122 Jolou, which leads the fleet overall. The J/109s were also topped this week by a newcomer to this year’s series – Richard Hinde-Smith’s Tigh Solius, which beat Offbeat in second and Jagerbomb in third.
In IRC 1, Visit Malta Puma added to her already impressive scoreline with another first place, as did David Franks’ JPK 1010 Strait Dealer, in IRC 2. J Dream won the J/111 class, while in IRC 3, Craig Cossar’s Salona 35 Vital Eyes extended her overall lead with another first place.
Kevin Sussmilch’s Mefisto provided the Sigma 38s with an impressive display of light-weather sailing, finishing 15 minutes ahead of second-placed Kindred Spirit. In IRC 4, Quarter Tonner Menace sailed an excellent race to finish nearly 10 minutes ahead of Impala 28 Trudi in second.
Day sponsor was Andark, which provided prizes to the assembled crews in the HRSC clubhouse after racing. Sailors will be keeping an eye on the long-range forecast for next week to see if the warm, dry weather will put in another appearance, although the consensus in the clubhouse concluded that a little more wind would be nice…