With south westerly gales lashing the south coast of England, it came as no surprise that the final day of racing in the Garmin Hamble Winter Series had to be cancelled.
Early warnings began to appear in forecasts as early as Wednesday, and these became firmer as the weekend approached. By Saturday, it was obvious there was little chance of any improvement, and the Hamble River Sailing Club's race committee finally decided to call it off at 21.00 when the forecast for 09.00 on Sunday was 35 to 40 knots (which proved to be correct), with gusts to 60 knots.
Everyone knows, of course, that mixed weather conditions can be expected for a series running from the beginning of October through to December, and that safety must come first at this time of the year. However, this year the balance was more unfavourable than usual, and of the eight Sundays on which the main series was scheduled, one was lost due to lack of breeze, on another racing was cancelled for the White Fleet when the wind was up to 30 knots, and on two more Sundays there was far too much wind, meaning racing had to be cancelled for both fleets.
On the remaining race days conditions were fine, and it was possible to sail extra races to make up for some of those that were lost. In comparison, it will be remembered that the weather for the 2006 series was very good, and it appeared there would be no need for cancellations until the very last day when the wind was too much.
The normal pattern for the Winter Series is for two races per day to be sailed by the smaller boats of the White Fleet, and just one longer one for the Black Fleet. A full quota is therefore 16 races for White Fleet and 8 for Black Fleet, but this year White Fleet raced 10 times, while in the Black Fleet the IRC 0, IRC 1 and IRC 2 classes raced 7 times while the IRC 3, IRC 4, J/105 and J/109 classes raced 6 times.
The Race Director, Jamie Wilkinson, has already asked for feedback from competitors on whether they might like three races per day next year for White Fleet and two per day for Black Fleet. When the weather was good this year, there was no difficulty in sailing this many races and still being ready for a prize-giving at 4 pm.
It can be said with absolute certainty that there has been some really excellent racing in the 2007 Winter Series, and it will be the good days that will remain in the memory.
Garmin (Europe) Ltd was the series sponsor for the third consecutive year, and Hamble River Sailing Club also welcomed the day sponsorship provided by local marine companies. Garmin Hamble Winter Series final overall results, White Fleet winners:
Hunter 707 (18 entries), 'Sparkle' Paul Curtis.
J/80 (14 entries), 'Savage Sailing Team' Liz Savage.
Laser SB3 (51 entries) 'Selden Masts' Chris Jennings.
Sportsboat (5 entries) 'Finn M'Coul' Tom Clay. Garmin Hamble Winter Series overall results, Black Fleet winners:
IRC 0 (9 entries), 'Koko Kai' Kristin Pagano.
IRC1 (23 entries), 'Premier Flair' Lucy Macgregor.
IRC 2 (19 entries), 'Salvo' Peter Morton.
IRC 3 (35 entries), 'Xtravagance' Colin Byrne.
IRC 4 (20 entries), 'ASAP' Alex Christie.
J/105 (12 entries), 'Jolene' Geoff Payne.
J/109 (24 entries), 'Jalapeno' Nigel & Suzie Brooke.
Sigma 38 (10 entries), 'Festina Lente' Meakins Family.
Click the images below to see enlargements or click the links below for more reports and images from Peter Danby