(Warsash, England)- It was a busy weekend for Warsash Sailing Club on 20th/21st April with racing on both days for the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Championship and the fifth Sunday of the Spring Series. Perhaps the warmer weather had enticed new entries on the water, resulting in 150 boats ready to enjoy a busy programme of racing. Over the weekend, the race officers ran 40 separate races - a challenging but rewarding time all round.
Saturday- Spring Championship Day 1
The Spring Championship offers an intense schedule of four days’ racing, with no discards allowed. This year all IRC classes are eligible in Black Group as well as J/109s. J/111s racing in IRC1 were also given extracted results to show how they performed as a “class-within-a-class”. White Group includes classes for J/70 and J/80.
Although the day dawned with the River Hamble resembling a millpond, everyone was pleased to see the wind fill in and racing got underway without delay.
Windward/leeward courses were set for all classes in Black Group varying in length from 4.3 to 6.2 nm for IRC1/IRC2 and 3.1 to 5.5 nm for J/109 and IRC3. IRC1 had an impressive lineup that included six J/111s as well as J/133s. After an initial general recall, the class was given a second chance to start under a ‘P’ flag and all went well.
The J/109s were out in force with a 17-strong entry. Sardonyx IX (William Edwards) beat Juke Box (Chris Copeland) in Race 1 and Jahmali (Mike and Sarah Wallis) in Race 3 but clearly had problems in Race 2 where Jubilee (Tony Dickin) headed the class.
White Group completed three good races between 40 and 50 minutes in length before the wind faded away and PRO Peter Knight called it a day amidst requests from competitors and race officers alike to enjoy a beer on the terrace in the sunshine. Information from ‘Bramble-Met’ confirmed this to be a good decision since there was a lull of well over an hour before any wind returned - too late for racing.
In the J/70s North Sails (Ruairidh Scott) took two races and Boats.com (Ian Atkins) one. Betty (Jon Powell) won the first J/80 race with Juicy (Allan Higgs) 15 seconds astern. J’ai Deux Amours (Stewart Hawthorn) was a slender one second adrift in third place but returned in the second race to win. Betty came back on form for the third race.
Sunday- Spring Series Day 5, Spring Championship Day 2
The weather was bright and sunny with a forecast south-westerly breeze set to build from 10 to 17 knots during the day. The Black Group committee boat set up station near Universal buoy using courses with an initial windward leg to Williams Shipping or West Knoll buoy. The plan was to offer a longer race well over two hours to the Spring Series competitors followed by a short race for those boats entered in the Spring Championship only. The conditions offered the best sailing in the series so far, only a few sunbeams short of champagne sailing – the champagne instead being presented after racing. Smaller boats needed to choose carefully to find clear air avoiding the powerful IRC1 and IRC2 classes speeding downwind. Sundays in the Solent are also also busy with commercial traffic and the North Channel saw several shipping movements to avoid.
The Series race for IRC3 saw a very close finish, Induljence (J/97 – Nick and Adam Munday) taking first place by five seconds. Sardonyx IX scored two wins in the J/109s, to count towards the Series and Championship.
White Group enjoyed good sailing with a start near Meon. The moderate breeze remained fairly stable from the south-west necessitating only a single slight reorientation to the course to maintain good beats and runs. Racing took place on a small neap tide which may have led boats into a false sense of security. Several had to take penalties after misjudging the tide at the windward mark. This had its effect on Betty which moved her from first boat at the end of Saturday to third overall on Sunday after six races in the J/80 Spring Championship. J’ai Deux Amours grabbed the opportunity to consolidate three wins. North Sails went well in the J/70s followed by Spitfire (Team RAF Benevolent Fund) then Boats.com in each of the three races.
As a result of the weekend's sailing, taking an early lead in the J/111 class is James Arnell's JEEZ LOUISE with a consistent 2-1-3-1-1 tally for 8 pts. Just behind with just two points separating them are Duncan McDonald's SHMOKING JOE in second with a 4-2-1-4-2 for 13 pts and Tony Mack's McFLY in third with a 5-3-2-2-3 for 15 pts.
The J/109 class has been seeing a very steady performance by Mike & Sarah Wallis' team on JAHMALI, leading both the Spring Championship as well as the Spring Series. Not having sailed the Spring series hasn't seemed to have handicapped William Edwards' team on SARDONYX IX. Blasting out of the box on Saturday, the SARDONYX IX crew continued their winning ways on Sunday, sitting 2nd in the Spring Champs as a result of collecting four 1sts! Just behind in them in the Spring Champs is Tony Dickin's JUBILEE with a somewhat roller-coaster scorecard. As for the Spring series scenario, the JAHMALI crew can't rest on their laurels as Owain Franks & Jean Lockett's JYNNAN TONNYX crew are hot on their tail and just one point back. Still sitting in third for the series is David Mcgough's JUST SO.
The J/70 class has seen the teams fluctuate on performance based on weather conditions. Nevertheless, showing greater consistency of late is Ruairidh Scott's NORTH SAILS team, leading both the Spring Championship as well as the Spring Series-- running the table with three straight 1sts on Sunday seemed to have helped their scoreline a wee bit. Bolting out of the blue on Saturday and maintaining the same performance on Sunday was Simon Ling's Royal Airforce Team sailing SPITFIRE, taking six 2nds over the two days! In third for the Spring Champs is Ian Atkins' BOATS.COM with lots of 3rds and is hanging onto second in the Spring Series just one point back from NORTH SAILS.
J/80s are having a battle for second place while Stew Hawthorn sailing J'AI DEUX AMOURS is seemingly sailing away with the Spring Champs. The next four boats, successively, include JUICY (Allan Higgs), BETTY (Jon Powell) and AQUA J (Patrick Liardet) and they're all within 7 pts of each other! Exciting racing! On the Spring Series side, Powell's BETTY is still ruling the roost and it's unlikely he'll get unseated from their throne atop the standings. However, the battle is also for second place in the Series, with Gillian Ross' ROCK & ROLL and Allan Higgs' JUICY within 3 pts of each other, so anything goes in next weekend's finale.
Finally, the Spring Series IRC3 class continues to have an absolutely insane, panic-inducing, anxiety-driven, nose-to-nose dust-up to the grand finale next weekend. Four boats are essentially tied for the lead, including the J/97 JIGGERY POKERY sailed by Chaz Ivill and their stablemate J/97 INDULJENCE sailed by Nick & Adam Munday. Both boats lie 2nd and 3rd overall, tied on points at 10 apiece, one point from the lead and just 3 points above 4th!! Should create a few sleepless nights for these crews next weekend! The betting is getting HOT, HOT, HOT at Ladbrokes betting parlor for this gang of four!
Sailing photo credits- Iain McLuckie For more Warsash Spring Series sailing information