(Warsash, England)- The final gathering for the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series and Spring Championship took place over 27th/28th April 2013. Having had no cancellations due to gales and flat calms, the event has been a great success all round. Over the eight race days race officers have run over 170 separate races and even if the early spring was unseasonably cold, there was a warm and convivial atmosphere in the clubhouse for post-race banter and where the weekly class winners received their champagne and one lucky winner each week a SLAM jacket.
Four races were scheduled for Black Group on Day 3. The committee boat anchored near Sunsail buoy and set up windward/leeward courses with the addition of a windward spreader mark. The second round for IRC3, IRC4 and J/109s used a shorter windward leg. IRC1 was first to go and over enthusiasm led to a general recall. Their restart used for the first time the new “U” flag as a preparatory signal, indicating anyone over the line would be disqualified. Sadly, one boat was caught out and there are no discards in the Spring Championship. There was keen competition everywhere, especially with Sardonyx IX (William Edwards) topping the J/109s.
For the remaining races the committee boat moved west to Flying Fish buoy for less effect from the strong spring tide. This time a leeward spreader was introduced. As grey clouds gathered during the day there were short 27 knot gusts and the brief arrival of hailstones. IRC3 and IRC4 called it a day after three races and Sardonyx IX made it a clean sweep in the J/109s.
White Group raced near the North Channel with the tide pushing boats along the line. Starts went generally to plan with a couple of general recalls. The J/70s got away cleanly. For the J/80s the start line was moved and a large fender marked the anchor chain! The wind here coming from the north was shifty and sometimes reaching 25 knots. It was during one such gust in the last race of the day that an SB20 became caught on one of the buoys forming the leeward gate, reducing the gap just as the J/80 class arrived. Those in the lead were sufficiently spread out to negotiate the reduced space, but a bunch came as the race committee RIB was trying to lift the mark. The race had to be abandoned but was quickly re-sailed. The strong tide had an impact on the runs, particularly in the gusts, with many boats from all classes being seen to white sail to the gate having been carried too deep. North Sails (Ruairidh Scott) took three wins in the J/70s, with Boats.com taking one race. Stewart Hawthorn in J’ai Deux Amours posted two firsts in the J/80s with Betty (Jon Powell) and Aqua-J (Patrick Liardet) taking one each.
The Black Group line was set near South Coast Sailing buoy. The initial windward leg went across the Bramble Bank, which the race committee brought clearly to the attention of all navigators by radio! IRC1 had a 16 mile course and the following classes slightly shorter courses of 13 and 11 miles. For all boats life was made interesting for tacticians and those watching the depth. The wind varied from the forecast later in the morning turning some of the runs into tight spinnaker reaches. With everyone back after two and a half to three hours’ racing, a very short second race was then held for the Spring Championship competitors only.
Tigh Soluis II (Iain MacKinnon) finished on a high in the J/109s. Mefisto was forced into the enviable position of having to discard a first place in her series results. Helmed by Kevin Sussmilch with Andy Budgen on main sheet and tactics, the remaining crew are locally-based students. Mefisto’s performance, whether in light or heavy conditions, has been outstanding throughout.
On White Group there was a total lack of wind when the committee boat set up station by the Meon shore but just before the start time a gentle breeze began to fill in from the south-west to give enough pressure for the first race to get underway after a short postponement. The wind continued to build through the three races to reach 15 knots by the end of the third race, causing a few broaches and “wineglasses”. North Sails continued in fine form in the J/70s taking all three races. In the J/80s Betty (Jon Powell), Aqua-J (Patrick Liardet) and Juicy (Allan Higgs and Cressida Robson) shared the honours.
As a result of the weekend sailing, the winners of the Spring Series and the Spring Championship have finally been determined. For the J/70s the story of the day was simply the fact that Ruairidh Scott sailed NORTH SAILS very fast onto the comeback trail after a slow start to the season. Trailing
BOATS.COM at the beginning of the Spring Series, NORTH SAILS climbed their way back into contention to ultimately take the series sailing to six straight firsts in the last six races to take Spring Series as well as the Spring Championship. Blasting off to a fast start for the Spring Series, Ian Atkins' BOATS.COM sailed consistently well to finish second in both the month's long Spring Series as well as snag second in the Spring Championships. The battle for third was different for each event. In the Spring Series, it was Malcolm Jacques' DJANGO that took the bronze. And, in the Spring Championships, it was Simon Ling's SPITFIRE POWERED BY SLAM that took the third spot.
The big dogs in the J/80's in terms of performance and consistency were Jon Powell's BETTY and Allan Higgs' JUICY, both finishing in the top three in each event with BETTY getting the upper-hand on JUICY both times. For the Spring Series, Powell's BETTY won by a good margin by virtue of the fact they were sailing strong in the beginning of the series. Like a freight train rolling down the hill, Higgs' JUICY had a tough go initially, but finally got the wheels back on their shopping trolley to collect some silverware for second overall! Following them in third for the Series was Gillian Ross' ROCK & ROLL. For the Spring Championship, it was Stew Hawthorn's J'AI DEXU AMOURS that convincingly won the event, displacing his other colleagues one spot down the ladder. As a result, BETTY took 2nd and JUICY 3rd.
The J/109 fleet faced similar scenarios as the J/70s and J/80s, with two boats seemingly locked into a perpetual battle all spring for class domination! In this case, it was Mike & Sarah Wallis' JAHMALI locking horns with Owain Franks & Jean Lockett's JYNNAN TONNYX. For the Spring Series, JAHMALI won with the JYNNAN TONNYX gang in second, third was Paul Griffith's JAGERBOMB. For the Spring Championship, William Edwards' team sailing SARDONYX IX nearly ran the table, collecting nine 1sts in 11 races, to completely eclipse the 109 class and take the championship overall. Second in the championship was Tony Dickin's JUBILEE with the JAHMALI gang in 3rd and JYNNAN TONNYX 4th.
The J/111s had great sailing, especially on the last weekend of the Warsash championship. Sailing IRC but scored as a sub-class, the J/111s saw yet another duel taking place for the lead. It was James Arnell's JEEZ LOUISE battling with Duncan McDonald's SHMOKIN JOE, with Arnell's team holding the upper-hand in the beginning of the series only to see McDonald's team come on strong in the end to nearly take the gold! Nevertheless, JEEZ LOUSIE hung on by a whisker to win by two points over SHMOKIN JOE. Third was Richard Barnes & Alfred Munkenbeck's beautiful grey/black BIELA-MUNKENBECK.
Within the world of IRC handicap racing, the Spring Series had fairly light attendance in IRC1. It wasn't until Spring Championship did a good fleet of boats jump in, perhaps due to the frigid temperatures earlier in the season! For the Spring Championship, top J was McDonald's J/111 SHMOKIN JOE in 4th following by James Arnell's J/111 JEEZ LOUISE. Just behind was Neil Martin's J/133 JAMMY DODGER in 6th, Barnes & Munkenbeck's J/111 BIELA-MUNKENBECK in 10th and Jackie & Robert Dobson's J/133 JERONIMO in 11th.
Finally, the J/97s were also setup up in another duel with one another with both vying for the lead with two other competitors in IRC3 Class. Leading the fleet for the early part of the Spring Series, Chaz Ivill's J/97 JIGGERY POKERY had a rough time in her last two races, dropping to third just one point from 2nd and 4 pts from first! Flip-flopping with them for the lead was Nick & Adam Munday's INDULJENCE. Their rebound in the last three races nearly enabled them to win, instead having to settle for 2nd overall in one of the most competitive fleets on the Solent. Sailing photo credits- Iain McLuckie For more Warsash Spring Series sailing information