Thursday, April 21, 2011

Light Sailing Breeze For Warsash Finale

J/109 racer-cruiser- one-design- sailing with spinnaker on Solent, England
J/111 ARABELLA Wins IRC1-B Class
(Warsash, Southampton Water, England- April 16-17)- The last weekend of the Warsash Spring Series and Spring Championship took place on 16-17 April. The event has been running since 1984 and now involves over 100 Warsash members afloat and ashore. What was different this year was the persistent light conditions which race officers around in the early days cannot remember happening before. On only two days did the wind stay in double figures but more often than not loitered in the 5-8 knot range for racing. This may have meant less toll on boats and equipment but a real challenge, especially for tacticians and helms.

Saturday- Spring Championship- Day 3
Again a high pressure system hung over the Solent – wonderful sunshine but the water resembled a mill pond.  The postponement flag was raised at 0950 with race officers constantly checking for wind in the area. As the day wore on, there had been no change or likelihood of a breeze filling in by soon after midday and there was no choice but to cancel all racing for the day. This proved to be a wise move since although a 6 knot breeze did perk up in the afternoon, it vanished again within half an hour.

J/80s one-design sailboat- sailing on Solent, EnglandSunday- Warsash Spring Series- Day 6 & Spring Champs- Day 4
The forecast promised slightly better conditions for Sunday but as the Black Group fleet gathered near East Knoll, it looked unlikely. When the first signal was due to be sounded, visibility was obscured by a veil of haze from which emerged a stream of commercial traffic inbound for Southampton. The postponement flag was hoisted and race officers made the first of several radio announcements to keep competitors aware of their intentions. Shortly after noon, everyone’s patience was rewarded. A south-easterly breeze filled in and, whilst never more than 8 knots, was sufficient to allow racing. Courses were set with Flying Fish the first windward mark, followed by runs and beats in the area of Hill Head and Universal Marina. With some classes combined, the first start consisted of IRC1, Big Boat and Farr 45s. With a strong adverse tide, some skippers were slow to reach the line and AP was flown again to allow these boats to clear the line. This also coincided with a brief wind shift and when it had steadied again came the turn of IRC2 and J/109 classes with a slightly shorter course. The ODM end of the line was favored.  The J/109 OFFBEAT got clear air and made significant gains to lead their class at the first mark, going on to take line honours.

J/80 one-design sailboat- Henri Lloyd sailing upwind on Solent, EnglandOn the White Group sportsboats’ racing area, the wind had arrived a little earlier. The first set of races got away cleanly only then to suffer the large wind shift experienced further out. The J/80 fleet was boosted by entries for the Spring Championship. Ian Atkins sailing Dan Brown’s HENRI LLOYD SHOCKWAVE Lloyd Shockwave took the first J/80 race ahead of AQUA-J (Patrick Liardet) and Robin Fielder helming WARP FACTOR IX.   Life was not so simple for the start of the second set of races. The J/80s then had a rush of blood to the head and were recalled. Everyone had another go and this time successfully. However, the clock was ticking and it became clear that this would have to be the final race.

On the first lap, HENRI LLOYD SHOCKWAVE established a lead over AQUA-J and JUMPING JENGA (Stewart Hawthorn). These positions were maintained on the second run but then the two boats became involved in a luffing match as they approached the bottom mark. When they gybed for the final time they found that JUMPING JENGA's layline from closer inshore was the better one. This allowed Stewart Hawthorn to round the mark in the lead and complete the short reach to the finish seven seconds ahead.

Spring Championship Final Results
The Spring Championship does not allow discards and six races were finally counted to decide the overall standings. The J/80 Spring Championship winner was HENRI LLOYD SHOCKWAVE, just one point ahead of Patrick Liardet's AQUA-J with the RAF’s TEAM SPITFIRE third.

There was no catching VELVET ELVIS leading the J/109s sailing to a 1-2-1-2-2-1 for 9 pts.  After a slow start to the season, second went to a resurgent J-DREAM sailed by David and Kirsty Apthorp and getting a 2-1-2-1-5-2 score for 13 pts.  Third was Richard and Valerie Griffith's OUTRAJEOUS with a very consistent 3-3-5-4-3-3 tally for 21 pts.

In the Black Championship BB2 Class, Ian Matthew's J/122 JINJA sailed to a 2-8-2-3-4-7 to finish third, only 2 points out of second.  Lying fourth was Jackie and Robert Dodson's J/133 JERONIMO sailing to a steadily improving 9-7-6-5-5-2 for 34 pts.

J/111- the ultimate one-design sailboat- sailing in Solent, EnglandSpring Series Final Results
In the Spring Series, IRC1 Overall results, the J/111 ARABELLA sailed by Nial Dowling finished a respectable fourth counting drop races, but second overall behind Nik Zenstrom's Farr 45 RAN if all races were counters!! Kudos to Nial's team for strong sailing in a very tough class.  Neil Kipling's J/122 JOOPSTER also sailed nicely to win two of the six races sailed to get 6th, only 1 pt from 5th overall IRC despite counting a DNS in Race 1 and tossing a DNS in Race 5-- had they gotten one more race under their belts, the J/122 JOOPSTER would certainly have had a shot at 1-2-3 overall in IRC.

In the breakout IRC1-B Class, Nial's J/111 ARABELLA (pictured here) wins IRC Class on her first series outing ever!  Quite a remarkable feat, to say the least.  Amassing a 2-3-4-4-2-1 record for 12 pts (4th dropped) to win class.  Third was the J/122 JOOPSTER sailed by Neil, sailing to a DNS(13)-1-1-1-DNS(20)-4 score for 20 pts.

In IRC3 Class, the J/97 JIKA-JIKA sailed by Mike and Jamie Holmes sailed nicely all spring to finish third overall with a 4-3-13-4-3-3 tally for 17 pts (13th dropped).  Without question, Mike and Jamie are probably still kicking themselves for having to toss the 13th and wondering how they ever got that far down the standings in the first place!

In the one-design groups Mike & Sarah Wallis' JAHMALI led Matt Boyle' SHIVA in the J/109s. Third was David Mcleman's OFFBEAT, fourth David McGough's JUST SO and fifth David and Kirsty Apthorp's J/DREAM.

J/80 one-design sailboat- sailing in EnglandThe J/80s sailed a total of twelve races over so many weekends and despite the lack of wind had a great time sailing on their shorter courses-- sometimes a good thing on the Solent!!  Patrick Liardet's AQUA-J was the overall series winner.  Second was Stew Hawthorn and Paul Heys on JUMPING JENGA, third was Dan Brown (with's Ian Atkins sometimes) on HENRI LLOYD SHOCKWAVE, fourth was Tony Hanlon/ Team Spitfire on SPITFIRE and fifth was Terry Palmer's JUST DO IT!

In challenging light conditions the fact that the vast majority of races were completed is a credit to the patience of the race management team and the competitors in equal measure. The prize-giving will be held on Friday 20th May when all competitors and crews will be welcome at Warsash Sailing Club’s Shore House to join club members in celebrating a very successful event. The 2012 Warsash Spring Series starts on Sunday 11th March.    Sailing Photo Credits- Eddie Mays.    For more Warsash Spring Series sailing results.