by Phil Riley
The Gaastra Friday Evening Racing series concluded on July 12 in warm, near perfect sailing conditions, with the finale providing close racing and a new pair of sailing trousers for one of the winners.
2013 RSrnYC Gaastra Friday Evening - SeriesMischief on her way to victory.
Of all the innovative short-course racing series run this season by the Royal Southern Yacht Club, the Gaastra-sponsored event has proved the most popular with a regular turnout of boats in both the National Handicap for Cruisers (NHC) and XOD classes. News of further short-course racing series later in the season is expected shortly.
Consistency and regular appearances brought its own reward, with a delighted Diana Wilson, who crews the XOD Mischief with husband Hamish, receiving a £250 Gaastra clothing voucher at the Club prize-giving.
'We're all very grateful for the racing, and the prizes are incredibly generous,' she said.
'I can now afford to get my husband some wet gear so he doesn't have to wear his old patched trousers. He'll be so thrilled. He'll get a pair just in time for Cowes. It's worth turning up!'
And she added: 'It really has been terrific and I think it's going to grow and grow in popularity. I think as soon as people realise there is good racing to be had on a Friday evening, and it has been good racing, more will come. It's been great, and fun.
'Despite the early season weather the race officers have done a terrific job, and being able to come back here and have a drink and something to eat is fun. To have some more racing at the end of the season would be great.'
Regular XOD racers Mos Fitzgerald in Kathleen, and Gerry Golding in Pepper, filled out the other steps on the series podium.
In the NHC class, Lincoln Redding's quarter-tonner Whiskers took the evening's race win, but it was the consistent J80 Boysterous that emerged on top in the series ahead of the well-sailed quarter-tonner Bad Toad.
Regular Boysterous crew Jonathan Riceman said: 'We've all enjoyed it and it's been a success. We'll definitely come back. There will be more awareness, and the publicity with finishing outside the Clubhouse is great, with members able to see the boats coming up the river with kites.
'The river is always fun. You can see the Club getting closer with people on the balcony and that's always a highlight.
'The whole event has been quite motivating, and especially with another J80 out there's a bit of match racing. Maybe in the next series you could end up with four or five J80s racing each other which would be great.'