Winter series conditions
The Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series continued for the second Sunday of racing yesterday. With a steady 15 knots mainly from the east, the wind chill factor dropped the apparent temperature down well below freezing, but the conditions did not deter the enthusiasm and energy of competitors, some of whom had battled with unseasonable snow to reach the Solent. All classes got away on time to complete the day’s schedule. The wind was at the lower end of that forecast and gusts to 28 knots did not materialise.
The Black Group team set up station near Flying Fish buoy in a constant force 4-5 NNEerly - ideal sailing conditions except for the temperature. The west-going tide combined with the northeast wind helped keep boats back from the line, allowing all starts to get away cleanly. No one wanted to have the delay of a general recall. Courses of 13-15 miles were set, basically of a windward-leeward pattern, using permanent and laid marks and with a finish close to Calshot buoy.
The boats with slick sail handling did well. It was not easy for crew members to move nimbly wearing so many layers of clothing and with numb fingers. Competitiveness was to the fore, resulting in some hairy moments. Four sailors went overboard: three, all sensibly wearing lifejackets, were caught out when a lifeline snapped. For both incidents, neighbouring boats quickly stopped racing and went to their assistance. Everyone was soon back on board, with no adverse effects and the Protest Committee is being asked to award redress to those boats that stood by.
Mike Bartholomew's Mills 40 Tokoloshe chalked up a second win in IRC1. Puma Logic knocked last week’s winner Mitchellson Interceptor into second place by just under a minute in IRC2. Both are now level on points. Mike Bridges’ Elan 37 Elaine put in a faultless performance to take IRC3 ahead of Starspray.
In the one design classes only six seconds separated David McLeman's Offbeat from Mike and Sarah Willis' Jahmali in the J/109s. Kevin Sussmilch's Mefisto stormed round the course to take the Sigma 38 class again, this week by a clear 11 minutes. It was Mefisto’s lucky day as they not only picked up the champagne as a class winner, but were also drawn randomly to receive this week’s Slam jacket.
IRC4 had a separate line near East Knoll buoy. Set a 12 mile course, these smaller boats made an excellent start with the tide holding them back. Following a keen beat to the first windward mark, Glyn Deakin's Funtastic edged into first place. With a well set spinnaker on the downwind leg, she took line honours at the finish, closely followed by Bernard Fyans' Erik the Red. However, it was between the ¾-ton boats that most of the excitement took place. On the final run Mike Webb's Flashheart, with Tim Rees' Menace in hot pursuit, broke her spinnaker pole. This was quickly spotted and allowed Menace, with the space and time, to drop late and edge past, taking the win on corrected time.
Peter Knight’s White Group for sportboats was closer inshore where the wind varied between 15 and 19 knots with gusts to the low 20s. The windward-leeward course was set between hamblewinterseries.com and Meon buoys. The breeze was slightly shifty and by the last race the course was moved 15° left. The J/70s, J/80s and SB20s all enjoyed three races around 40 minutes each. The fleets so far have been well behaved, with only one boat starting early. In the first race Jon Powell's J/80 Betty jumped the gun right by the committee boat, but promptly returned, sailed well to recover and take second place followed by two wins in the subsequent races. Betty has a five point lead over Gillian Ross' Rock & Roll after five races. Others fared not so well, taking a wide or very wide route round the leeward gate with spinnakers getting wrapped round the forestay or not coming down as quickly as the crews would have liked.
In the smaller new J/70 class the Ruairidh Scott steered North Sails was competing for the first time and took two first and one second places but Ian Atkins in Boats.com heads on series points. Life on an SB20, with no shelter from the cold, must have been tough and the turnout was understandably down. Appropriately perhaps Scott Graham and Nick Elder's Chill Pill had a good day, posting three bullets, followed by Tom and Richard Clay's Whyaduck.
The Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series takes a break over the Easter holiday and returns on Sunday 7 April, by which time spring must surely be in the air. In the meantime, the annual RORC Easter Regatta is being held over 29-31 March.