What a difference a week makes to the weather in the Solent. After the gales and bitter cold wind over the Easter holiday, the second week of the Raymarine Warsash Spring Series on 30 March was greeted with sunshine and blue sky. Only the breeze was elusive but after some delays, all competitors enjoyed a taxing day’s racing, even if this meant plenty of work for the course setters and mark layers having constantly to revise their plans in the light and variable wind.
The two sportsboat courses were laid along the Meon shore near the entrance to Southampton Water and they enjoyed the best of the early morning breeze. The Laser SB3s started cleanly and Pieter Heyn’s Go Hard or Go Home arrived at the windward mark first just ahead of Sbeed and Palava. Pieter then took a flyer out to the right which proved fatal allowing Palava a small lead. Positions constantly changed. Pambere for instance rounded in 11th place, climbed on the downwind leg to third, only to fall back to 11th again by the finish.
At times the boats struggled to make progress. The breeze went so light that the wind turbine on the shore came to a halt. As the leaders reached the line, the wind had shifted dramatically to the south, where it steadied, making the second race a much fairer test. Palava took both wins - the second by a slender eight seconds from Eau No!
The Hunter 707 class enjoyed some of the closest racing of the day. Russell Mead, helming Ant Hill Mob, was out for the first time and put in a fine performance to take both races. In the 14-strong J/80 class Mosquito (Duncan and Michelle Johnston) led Boats.com (Ian Atkins) in the first race whilst Boats.com edged ahead of Savage Team Sailing in the second. Ian’s consistency gives him three wins from the four races held so far.
Out in the deeper water, the Black Group committee boat set up station near North Ryde Middle and as the breeze hovered around the 5 knot mark, after an hour’s postponement, the first four classes got away, albeit slowly and IRC1 with seven boats over the line early. The sequence was then halted when the wind disappeared again.
In the fickle conditions the leaders of IRC2 were amongst the IRC1 back markers and many boats found difficulty rounding the downwind mark against the tide. Rafael Duplan helming Magic Mix read the conditions well on the reach to East Bramble and picked up a gust to round under spinnaker. Nick Haigh’s DK46 Dark and Steamy also broke free to make steady gains. They went on to finish 20 minutes ahead of second placed Magic Mix. Whilst not so convincingly, Neil Vardy sailed his Elan 410 Esprit to a good win in IRC2.
After a further postponement to reorientate the course completely in the new wind, IRC3 got underway on the third time of entering the start sequence. By now the windward mark had moved from Flying Fish buoy to Gales HSB near the island shore. Progress to the windward mark was slow and subject to many fluctuations in the breeze.
Russell Hodgson helming the new Dehler 34 Rushlex held to his offshore tactics and gained a good lead, although later those coming in closer to the shore also found better conditions. Rushlex was first at the windward mark and went on to take both line and handicap honours. Again the classes became intermingled as IRC4 came up to take the back markers. David Rider’s beautiful quarter tonner Catch 22 took the winning gun.
Next week the 'Big Boats' join in Saturday racing in the spring Championship, whilst the Spring Series continues on Sunday 6 April 2008. Raymarine Warsash Spring Series - Provisional Results Day 2 - 30 March 2008:
IRC 1 GBR95R Dark & Steamy DK46 Nick & Anne Haigh
IRC 2 GBR410L Esprit Elan 410 Neil Vardy
IRC 3 GBR3401L Rushlex Dehler 34rs Russell Hodgson
IRC 4 GBR2211 Catch 22 RH 27 David Rider
J-109 GBR8809R Zelda Ben Richards
J-105 GBR7707T Fay-J Paul Griffiths
Laser SB3 Races 1 & 2 GBR3053 Palava Geoff Carveth
Hunter 707 Races 1 & 2 GBR7087 The Ant Hill Mob Russell Mead
J-80 Race 1 GBR704 Mosquito Duncan Johnson
Race 2 GBR912 boats.com Ian Atkins
Sportsboat Races 1 & 2 GBR1779L Daisy Jeremy Salvesen