Winter was halted, momentarily, Sunday morning on the final day of at the RORC Easter Challenge when the sun broke through, raising the ambient temperature on the Solent above the freezing point for the first time on the Easter weekend! OMG, really? That's crazy. Have the Weather God's gone over the end of the Earth (it's flat, right)? Perhaps man, since launching a log with a palm leaf as a means of propulsion on the Tigris & Euphrates Rivers (e.g. sailors) are to blame for the proliferation of 7.0 billion humans on Earth polluting, catalyzing global warming and climatic change, and destroying our Spaceship Earth? Hope not.
Nevertheless, the hardy souls on the Solent proved yet again sailors are ready for the next Ice Age, prevailing in the 15+ kts winds on Easter Sunday and completing two races to conclude the Royal Ocean Racing Club's UK season opener and training regatta.
One of the surprise performances of the weekend was to see the top female skipper in the regatta, Jackie Dobson, helm of the Poole-based J/133 JERONIMO, nearly pull off a win in her class, narrowly losing to one of the top IRC boats in the UK.
"I am really, really pleased," said Dobson. "Over the winter we've had the keel off, the mast down - we've had a lot of work done on the boat. We had a real battle to get the boat back together, with no time to practice, so we're really chuffed. We never thought we were going to make it."
Dobson was also doubtful about the freezing temperatures and its effects on the crews. "We were humming and hawing about whether anyone would enjoy it because it was so cold, but everyone has absolutely loved it! And the coaching is brilliant! It is a great regatta to re-focus everyone for the coming season and get everyone back working as a team together on the boat. Everyone gets a lot out of it and they are all fired up now for the rest of the season." Watch out, they may be yelling "Jeronimo" as they come running down the hill (or mark) at you with tomahawks in hand!
Just for the record, Jackie and crew sailed IRC 2 in this "warm-up" beating out a raft of Ker 39s, Mills 39s, First 40, First 40.7 and an X40.
In the IRC 3 world, it was great to see a cross-section of boats participating from the recent and distant past. Bet few of you know the RYA's current leader, Eddie Warden-Owen, once sailed a J/35 called JAILBIRD while working for Banks Sails and managed to win a few regattas along the way! Of course, he was a J/24 European Champion at the time, too. Poignantly, the J/35 BENGAL MAGIC sailed by Jamie Chalmers managed to pull off an upset against her more recent stable mantes, a pair of J/109s, snagging a third place in IRC 3 class! The J/109s, JE VANTE (Todd Wells) and BASIC INSTINCT (Jonathan Hearth) finished 4th and 5th, respectively. Sailing photo credits- Iain McLuckie For more RORC Easter Challenge sailing information