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2023 Hamble Icebreaker Regatta at the Royal Southern Yacht Club

by Jane Saunders 16 Jan 07:17 PST 14-15 January 2023
2023 Hamble Icebreaker Regatta © Jane Saunders & James Noel

The Royal Southern Yacht Club kindly hosted the 2023 Hamble Icebreaker Regatta, our first Oppy and Topper event of 2023 this weekend! We had every season over the course of the weekend (except perhaps summer...) and the intrepid sailors were tested in every condition possible. Luckily, although windy, the weather was very mild so no ice needed to be broken.

Saturday started off with very strong winds and torrential rain, so our Optimists spent the morning ashore getting some tips from our fantastic coaching team waiting for the wind to moderate. This finally happened at lunchtime and they headed out of the River Hamble for two races at Cat Head in fresh weather conditions. Our fabulous race committee, led by PRO James Ripley, ably assisted by Tanya and Steph set a square course, and off the sailors went to kick off the 2023 season!

Joe Wimory (Bewl/ HISC) took an early lead with two bullets, followed by Freya Hutchinson (Royal Lym) in the overnight standings. There were a couple of OCS's from those who were determined to get the season started a few seconds before everyone else, and we also saw some great sailing from the younger end of the fleet, some of whom did not have a great deal of experience in stronger winds and steep short waves after a very light season in 2022, but who coped admirably with only one capsize across the entire fleet during the day. A large rain and wind squall finally stopped proceedings for the afternoon, and we all retired back to the club for a debrief, and birthday cake courtesy of Ruby Coster (Royal Lym).

Saturday evening saw the sailors having supper in the club followed by a disco where everyone dusted off their dancing skills and had a great evening making new friends off the water (a special mention to Sam Wealthy for his excellent breakdancing) while the parents thawed out around the club fireplace.

On Sunday, the oppies were joined by the Topper fleet, for a joint day on the water with our numbers bolstered to a splendid 40 sailors, a great number for this time of year. Unfortunately, the wind out in the Solent was "fresh to frightening" so after a brief hold ashore, the decision was taken to turn left up the river and set a course within the River Hamble, in Shipwreck Bay. Luckily we had the river to ourselves, and plenty of space with many of the cruising boats out of the water for the winter.

Conditions up the river were gusty and shifty and it gave those who had found the breeze of Saturday a little tough an excellent opportunity to get back into proceedings. The Toppers started first, with a hard-fought race, especially amongst the larger 4.2 fleet. Matthew Emerson (Spinnaker) and Oscar Lay (Desborough) led the way in the Topper 5.3 and 4.2 fleets, although there were many place changes across the rest of the fleet, with a challenging cross tide making the start lines tricky for both fleets. The Oppies were far more diverse, with wins coming from Seb Bailey (Burghfield), Hugo Fletcher (Royal Southern) and Patrick Di Salle (Gurnard).

Race 2 brought a big windshift which kept everyone on their toes, while in Race 3, we had a lull followed by a short rainstorm, and building tide which again meant that no one could take their eyes off the ball! Luckily we missed the enormous hail storm which hit the sailing club, but it did look like it had been snowing when we got back there. We certainly had a weekend of extremely varied weather!

We had some lovely prizes kindly donated by local businesses Force 4 Chandlery and North Sails - many thanks for your support, which the sailors very much appreciated! The Optimist fleet was won on countback by Seb Bailey (Burghfield), followed by Alex Saunders (Royal Southern/ Warsash) and Patrick Di Salle (Gurnard) in third.

The Topper 5.3s were won by Matthew Emerson (Spinnaker), with William Le Grice (Warsash) second and Lewis Miller (Spinnaker) third. The Topper 4.2's were won by Oscar Lay (Desborough), with Henry Noel (Warsash) second, and Megan Cerrato (Warsash) third, proving that local knowledge definitely helped in the shifty conditions! Our endeavour awards went to Zoe Green (Netley), who did some fantastic gritty sailing in the breeze on Saturday, and Reuben Wealthy (Stokes Bay) who made some great gains in the shifts on Sunday. Well done all!

As well as our race committee, and the Royal Southern sailing and events teams, we'd also like to give a special thank you to Alice Ryan and Sam Spencer from Hamble River SC for their help on the water over the weekend, and to Hamble River SC and Warsash SC for support with rescue cover. We'd also like to thank all our fantastic parent helpers, both on and off the water. We certainly started the 2023 sailing season off the way we'd like to continue it!

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