Finally the breeze kicks in
If last week's lack of wind was anything to go by, this year's Garmin Hamble Winter Series looked set to be one of the lightest in memory. And then this Sunday came along. In a brief gap between two lows that came screaming up the Channel in quick succession, all classes fitted in a race on a windy, wet and cold day.
Crews faced some logistical nightmares in making the start via a flooded and storm-battered country, which was reflected in slightly lower entries this week.
A deceptively light 10 knot breeze wafted boats to the start line, before a line squall heralded the arrival of 20-28 knots of southwesterly wind - and frequent showers of icy rain, which persisted throughout the day. The blustery conditions heralded some impressive broaches and saw some shredded spinnakers. But luckily, the advancing low held off just long enough for the assembled crews to enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of the HRSC clubhouse as it whistled in.
Out on the water, IRC 0 was first away, and was led by Andrew Howard's Grand Soleil 46 Belladonna, ahead of Mark Lloyd's Mills 43 Chaos. In IRC 1, Reflex 38 Visit Malta Puma finished a minute ahead of second-placed Mitchellson Interceptor to continue her run of firsts.
Mike Bridges' Elaine dominated IRC 2 with a fine display of heavy weather sailing, finishing 11 minutes ahead of the fleet on corrected time. Of the two J/111s on the water, Cornel Riklin's Jitterbug finished first. In the J/109s, Paul Griffiths' Jagerbomb was first of the two J/109s that completed the race.
Peter Dessent's Archambault A31 ImaDjinn won the IRC 3 class ahead of the J/92S Blackjack. In the Sigma 38s, Kevin Sussmilch's Mefisto finished first, ahead of Nick Gale's Zanzara in second and Chris and Vanessa Choules on With Alacrity in third.
In IRC 4, an over-eager start saw three boats called OCS, including Quarter-tonner Menace, which sailed her way through the fleet to win the class ahead of Polly, also OCS, in second.
Thanks to Force 4 Chandlery, who, as Day Sponsors provided prizes in the clubhouse after racing.
One race remains - and crews wait to see what the weather gods have in store!
More photos from Paul Wyeth/www.pwpictures.com
From James Tomlinson / www.rick-tomlinson.com