by Phil Riley
Everyone that experienced a moment or two in the Royal Southern Yacht Club's Mount Gay Rum June Summer Regatta can perhaps take some small consolation from the fact that the robust conditions caught out the best - up to and including Paralympic Gold Medallist Helena Lucas MBE.
Red Line start
Helena raced in the competitive SB20 fleet in a solid westerly breeze that rarely dropped below 20 knots with frequent 30 knot gusts, and a sea state that began to kick up when the tide turned against wind.
A promising beginning took an abrupt downturn, recalled the Paralympic sailor: 'We just had a big pitchpole. We were all at the back of the boat so there wasn't much we could do, and all of a sudden we ploughed the boat into the wave in front and just kept on going and ended up on our side, and then I fell off the boat in to the water. That wasn't so clever.
'We had been really excited as in the first race we led at the windward mark, and we thought that was pretty cool, but we probably should have just carried on sailing and come in as we broached when we put the kite up. But we had a lot of fun and learnt a lot ready for the nationals in a couple of weeks' time.
'This is actually only the third day I've sailed an SB20, so we really dropped ourselves in at the deep end, and we'd never sailed together before so there were a lot of new things happening. It was entertaining and good fun, I really enjoyed it.'
Helena, who generously agreed to present the June Regatta prizes in the Club after racing, became Britain's first ever Paralympic sailing medallist in Weymouth last year when she won the 2.4mR class, coincidentally on a line whose race officers included Simon and Georgie Hand as part of a group of seven Club members.
SB20 sailors Jerry Hill and Helena Lucas MBE - RSYC June Regatta 2013
Despite a fourth in the first race, Helena and her crew on Volvo dropped down the order after a radio malfunction meant they did not hear a course change which saw them DNF in the second.
The class was won by Craig Burlton's Gill Race Team with a first and a second place, ahead of Jerry Hill's Sportsboatworld.com (1-4) and Jerry Vigus' Henri Lloyd (3-3).
With Saturday's racing blown out by weather that saw 40-plus knots sweep through the Solent, and only two races possible on the Sunday, avoiding errors appeared to be the key to a successful result.
It was a strategy successfully employed by Chris Jones and Louise Makin on the J105 Journey Maker 5 who scored two bullets to win the class as well as the J105 Nationals.
'The forecast was pretty accurate so it was pretty much as we expected,' said helmsman Chris.
'The first race was pretty straightforward to be honest - keeping it all together in those conditions was the real challenge.
'We had one or two hairy moments as you'd expect, but we've been working quite hard to get everything ready so the consequences weren't too bad for us luckily, certainly compared to some of the other guys out there.
'Jos were really competitive and if Neilson hadn't had a big wipeout in a Chinese gybe, they would have been there as well, and Jackpot is always there. It was tough out there, the guys at the front were getting wet and cold, so it was absolutely the right call to end it after two races.
'This was a bit of a one-off for us, so we pulled out all the stops to get the best team possible. This was our goal for inshore racing for this year.'
Journey Maker 5 took the victory ahead of Roger Williams' Jos of Hamble (3-2) and Vernon Bradley's Jackpot (4-3).
In the J109 class Iain Mackinnon's Tigh Soluis II and Tony Dickin's Jubilee each took a first and a third, the former claiming top spot on countback, ahead of David Richards' Jumping Jellyfish (2-4).
It was nip and tuck for honours in the keelboat classes as well. In IRC1 Mark Devereux's Swan 42 Brevity took the win with a third and a first, just ahead of Mike Bartholomew's Mill 40 Tokoloshe whose victory in the first race was offset by a Chinese gybe which dropped them to fourth in the second. Tony Mack's J111 McFly took third overall (2-3).
'We kept it together most of the time, though we had one small moment coming out of a gybe when we laid it down a little bit, though we managed to recover it better than most,' said Mark.
'Most people had issues, it was just our issues were less, especially on the second race when we saw 30 at one point which definitely made it lively. We just tried to keep it simple.
'The competition was very high - Tokoloshe are always at the top of the table and it was great to have Magical Mystery Tour out there as we very rarely get to race against another Swan 42. We were pretty much nose to tail with them all the way.'
Magical Mystery Tour was also hosting crew trials for September's New York Yacht Club Invitational Challenge.
'The breeze was getting up and the seaway was kicking up with the tide, so it was a very good decision to end it after two races,' Mark added.
In IRC2 Mike Bridges' Elan 37 Elaine again showed admirable consistency to take both wins, ahead of Robbie and Lis Robinson's Hot Rats (3-2) who were tied on points with Julian Tickner's A35 Aztec (2-3).
IRC3 saw a 1-2 scoreline from John Allen's X302 Antix secure top spot in front of Nick and Adam Munday's J97 Induljence (4-1) and Neville Hodkin's X362 Xtra Djinn. IRC4 was won by Paul Treliving's Odd Job.
Consistency again paid off in the Club Class with Ian Stowe's International Folkboat Connie take the honours with a first and a second, ahead of John and Sandra Pickles' Grand Soleil 40 Bombardino (4-1) and Barry Peddley's Dehler 37 Illywhacker (2-3).
In a response to the loss of several racing days to poor weather, Sailing Committee Chairman Colin Hall announced at the prize giving that the Club would be putting on an additional regatta on Saturday, August 31. Entry will be free to all those who entered events, including the short-course racing, which were cancelled or shortened, and all are welcome.
The 2013 Racing Programme and entry details are available on the Club's website and from the Sailing Secretary at email@example.com.