Harken Saturday Series - Sunshine and light breeze for the start

The J80 Boysterous racing in the 2013 Harken Saturday Series
Phil Riley
The Royal Southern YC's innovative short course racing season commenced on Saturday (18th May) in sunshine and a light breeze that saw those trying out the new format get around the course, as promised, in an hour. This newly introduced for 2013 Harken Saturday Series fell victim to high winds earlier in May but showed its potential in more relaxed conditions from a start at Bald Head.

The J80 Boysterous led the way ahead of Dudley Stock's SB20 Odontoblast and Matthew Streeter's 707 Tigerfeet.

'It was a very nice day for sailing, much nicer than we expected,' said Colin Hall, who helmed Boysterous to a corrected one minute 17 second win.

'The breeze came and went, and sometimes faded away to not very much, but there was always enough to keep moving. It would come in from a different direction, with 30 degree shifts, and then swing back again. It was interesting and made you keep your brain on.'

And he added: 'With these courses you really have to watch what's going on as you will get different wind in Southampton Water to that further out in The Solent, and then again a different wind pattern nearing the head of the river. We need to get our head out of the boat a bit more often - you can get a bit too busy just looking at the tell-tales.'

Saturday afternoon's course took the yachts around Meon, Hamblewinterseries.com, Royal Southern and StormForce Coaching before returning to Bald Head.

With his Royal Southern Sailing Committee Chairman hat on Colin noted that the event had perhaps suffered from competition with a JOG race to Yarmouth and the Vice Admiral's Cup, which includes an SB20 class. He added, however, that the Harken Saturday Series along with the Gaastra Friday Series and Sunday racing starting in June, was all about giving sailors short, sharp racing.

'This is an experiment and all came about from the dayboat seminar we held last year,' said Colin.

'People were saying they were short of time and needed more opportunities to sail their boat taking less time. So that's what we're offering over the next couple of months with the Saturday afternoon series and the Friday evening racing starting on May 24th. In June the Saturdays give way and we're trying Sunday mornings, so this really is a big try-out and we'll just see who turns up.'

Colin Hall emphasised that racing is free to Club members - and only £10 for visitors - and is being held under the RYA's new NHC - National Handicap for Cruisers - system.

'Whatever boat you've got you can turn up and get a base rating,' said Colin. 'As time goes on and based on performance that rating is modified, so it's more like a gold handicap from that point of view than a rating system. As it's new I suspect a lot of people don't know about that.'

It is also anticipated that the 'menagerie' class nature of the short course racing regattas might appeal to 707 and 1720 sailors whose yachts no longer have their own starts.

The Gaastra Friday Series begins on May 24th with the next Harken Saturday Series continuing on May 25th.

In the meantime, Colin added: 'We're going to be getting on the phone to people and asking 'where are you?' I'm looking to the class captains to do a bit of chasing up. It's all about people getting more out of their boat. We're going to work away and get the message out.'

The 2013 Racing Programme and entry details are available on the Club's website.