Surprisingly the top boats of the series, Zelda (Michael Ewart-Smith), Shiva (Matt Boyle) and Jahmali (Mike Wallis) were caught out by the conditions and were all OCS, with only Jahmali returning to restart.
Zelda and Shiva scored OCS and frustratingly only found out when they arrived to enjoy the hospitality of Warsash Sailing Club. The first leg was a beat to RYA Yachtmaster in 9knots of breeze which saw Firestorm (Jon Perry) take an early lead from the remainder of the fleet.
A slick spinnaker hoist from Jahmali gave them the advantage over J-Dream (David & Kirsty Apthorp). Just So (David McGough) was unfortunate with the timing at the gybe mark, East Knoll, and rounded the leeward mark, Prince Consort on the outside of the fleet losing the distance which they had gained on the run.
By the time of the second beat, the tide was slack in the channel north of Ryde Bank and J-Dream and Red Arrow (RAFSA) took this advantage enabling them to close the distance to the Firestorm who was leading from Jahmali. A spinnaker run back to Norris was misjudged by many in the increasing tide which again gave Red Arrow and J-Dream the opportunity to close the distance on Jahmali who had by now passed Firestorm.
The beat from Norris to Mackley Construction saw many changes of places with Designstar 2 (Roger Phillips) and Newton’s Wonder (Simon Boadle) coming out better than the majority of the fleet. Meanwhile Jahmali and Firestorm continued to trade places on the final beat to the finish at Burges Salmon with Firestorm crossing the line 1 second ahead.
The remainder of the fleet had seen Just So, Designstar 2, and Joyride (Michael Jones) tack to the mainland shore where they benefited from the wind shift, finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.
The final race of the series takes place on Sunday 27 April and there is still room to change places on the podium, whilst fourth to ninth is only separated by seven points.
An excellent course which enabled the J/109s to enjoy close tactical racing, for which it is famous was complimented by a very pleasant afternoon in the sunshine at Warsash Sailing Club.
J109 - Leading Positions
1st Firestorm – Jon Perry
2nd Jahmali - Mike Wallis
3rd Just So – David McGough