Strong start for Tokoloshe
In the eastern Solent, the wind, initially at 25 knots, died to 5 knots and moved from easterly through to south then northwesterly. In such a changeable situation, it was not an easy day for the course setters; neither did they want to keep crews waiting on a chilly damp day. Nonetheless, most of the day’s programme of racing was completed with time for everyone to relax and warm up at Warsash Sailing Club’s Shore House afterwards for results, day prizes and free beer for competitors.
The Black Group committee boat, running three classes for IRC handicap, J/109 and Sigma 38 boats, anchored near Universal Marina buoy. The tide was east going until 1300 and sea state smooth. Showers affected the breeze and conditions were very localised. Courses were set using South Ryde Middle and then West Ryde Middle as a weather mark. As the breeze shifted around, the planned runs sometimes turned to shy spinnaker reaches, beats to fetches and vice versa, but each leg offered a challenge in finding the best breeze and using or avoiding the tide. After the start of IRC3 the wind started to die on the first beat. Those taking the Brambles route gained an advantage over those heading out towards Ryde Middle. The decision over whether or not to shorten, as the wind diminished and then picked, up left PRO David Greenway and his race team on tenterhooks, but finally the set courses of 12 to 15 miles were allowed to run, with boats in all classes able to finish.
In IRC1 Tokoloshe took a win by over three minutes on handicap from Loco and Blue Vortex. Another clear winner emerged in IRC2 when Mitchellson Interceptor beat Puma Logic but Mike Moxley’s much lower rated HOD35 Malice was only 12 seconds adrift in third place. This year several J-Sprit designs are included in IRC3 and the course clearly suited them. The J/97 Jiggery Pokery helmed by Paul Heys took line and handicap honours followed by two more bowsprit boats: Indulgence (J/97) and J’Ronimo (J/92). Skippers in the J/109 one design class may well have listened to the miserable forecast and decided to keep warm at home, as only half the competitors were racing. Runner-up in last year’s event, David McLeman and Offbeat took a clear win over Tigh Soluis II and Jynnan Tonnyx. In the Sigma 38s the 2012 winner Mefisto started as she meant to continue, followed by Zanzara and Light.
IRC4 enjoyed a separate start line under Jon Spencer, starting near hamblewinterseries.com buoy. The class ranged from quarter tonners and Sigma 33s, to a Projection 762, Mustang 30 and Hunter Sonata. It was good to see familiar faces entering: Tim Rees (Menace), Bernard Fyans (Eric the Red) and Allan Fraser (Prospero of Hamble). Following a short postponement, a round the cans course just over 10 miles was set and the boats were underway headed by Funtastic (Glyn Deakin) and Dog Tired (Jack Lippoid). Menace, helmed by former Warsash Commodore Derek Morland, quickly tacked onto port for clean air and was first at the windward mark but by the leeward mark Funtastic had pulled her way through and a real battle between Menace and Erik the Red was shaping up. On the line, Bernard Fyans was in champagne-winning position followed by a quarter tonner Flashheart (Mike Webb/Tom Bailey) and Menace third.
On Peter Knight’s White Group sportsboat line close inshore conditions were similarly fickle with the wind varying from 0 to 15 knots, sleet and very occasional sunshine. The team was determined to get some racing despite the lack of stable conditions. Averaging 5 knots the breeze swung from northeast to south, nearly to the west before settling briefly at southwest.
The committee boat first set up station at Meon buoy, moved offshore due to a left shift, then back again. The J/80 and new J/70 classes got underway but the wind was beginning to die so the SB20s were postponed. Eventually the fleet got away on a three lap windward course and finished close to the hour target time. As the wind died away again, the second race was shortened to a single lap. The light and variable conditions did have the benefit of encouraging no one to be over the line.
The J/80 fleet looked close on the water with the bulk rounding marks together. Jon Powell in Betty came to the fore. In both races Ian Atkins (Boats.com) dominated the newly introduced J/70 fleet. In 2012 Oleg Zherebtsov and Team Russia took the Spring Championship SB20 trophy. In the opening SB20 races of 2013 fellow countryman Kirill Frolov and Melstonteam dominated. Kirill had a great day. Not only was he in the clubhouse to collect his class winner’s champagne but Kirill was also drawn from the hat to receive the weekly prize of a jacket from official clothing sponsor SLAM.
The Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series continues on Sunday 24th March 2013 and new entries are welcome for the Series, Championship or individual days.
More photos from Rick Tomlinson / www.rick-tomlinson.com