Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Warsash Spring Champs Report

J/70 sailing Warsash spring series on Solent(Warsash, England)- It was a busy time for Warsash Sailing Club on 12th/13th April with racing on both days for the opening of the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Championship and the fifth Sunday of the Spring Series. As the weather became warmer, entry numbers have increased so that some 140 boats were out to enjoy the full schedule of racing. During the two days, the race officers ran over 50 separate races – a challenging but rewarding weekend all round.

Saturday– Day One
For Black Group, the south-westerly breeze started light but built by the end of the afternoon to a brisk 17 knots. Four races were scheduled and completed, largely using windward/leeward courses.

In 2013, Warsash Sailing Club decided to open the Spring Championship to all IRC handicap classes. Although entries were modest for the smaller boat classes last year, IRC3 and IRC4 entered excellent fleets this time. In IRC 3, Diamond Jem (J/109 - Robert Stiles) finished the day with a two point lead. Iain MacKinnon’s Tigh Soluis II headed three of the four races for the J/109s with Jubilee (Tony Dickin) taking Race 1.  After a slow start, Duncan Mcdonald’s J/111 team SHMOKIN JOE took two wins as did Louise Makin & Chris Jones’s JOURNEYMAKER 11.

The White Group committee boat set up station in what might be regarded as their usual spot near Meon buoy close to the entrance of Southampton Water. The weather did not turn out as forecast with a shifty breeze reaching 20 knots at times. The stronger wind caused some equipment failure- the J/80 Juicy finished flying their mainsail from the head and clew only when the tack and bolt rope gave way. Nonetheless, four races were completed. It was a clean sweep for Ian Atkins, out for the first time in the J/70 class, with  In the J/80s Aqua-J (Patrick Liardet) and Betty (Jon Powell) each took two wins.

J/80s sailing Warsash spring series on the SolentSunday- Day Two
For Black Group, Sunday’s wind started in the north and went light before switching eventually to the west, then south-west at 10/12 knots. Two races were planned for each class and the committee boat anchored near Flying Fish buoy. A 10 mile course was set for IRC1 and IRC2 with shorter courses for the remaining classes. Boats in IRC1 pushed their start, with many over the line early. Several collided with each other and the committee boat. After a general recall, the restart, subject to the “Z flag”, meant an extra penalty for being early and this time the class got away. There were individual recalls for several classes but all boats returned to start correctly. By the time IRC3 got underway, IRC2 were coming downwind close to the line. One of the many temporary wind shifts meant that for a couple of classes the first leg became biased with little tacking to the windward mark at Wilson Covers. This was where IRC4 joined the parade, having started earlier from a separate line. Most skippers went for a white sail reach to the spreader mark at Hill Head buoy, though a few sailed high hoping to use their kites. After that all the spinnakers went up, followed by a game of tactics – whether to gybe and stay out of the tide or go straight to Sunsail. The majority stayed on the bank but there was more wind in the main channel, where some made significant gains.

Aiming to complete two races, the start sequence for IRC1 began as IRC3 was crossing the finish, so a certain amount of dodging was necessary.  Courses involved a couple of windward/leeward legs then a long tactical downwind leg against the tide when all the boats hugged the Lee-on-Solent side before crossing south to North Ryde Middle. The breeze picked up and backed on the way across. There was then another tide versus wind decision before the finish just west of Bart’s Bash.

Black Group saw the J/111 teams experience rather topsy-turvy results for many boats.  Leading the series is JOURNEYMAKER 11 with a 1-3-4-1-1-1 for 11 pts, with a comfortable 7.5 pt margin.  Second is Cornel Riklin’s JITTERBUG with a 4-2-2-3-2.5-5 for 18.5 pt.  Two points back is Mcdonald’s SHMOKIN JOE with an 8-1-1-2-6-2 tally for 20 pts.  Fourth is David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM and fifth is Andrew Christy & Chris Body’s ICARUS.

J/109s are having quite a battle for the top five.  The two leaders are just four points apart, Tony Dickin’s JUBILEE in first with 11 pts and Iain Mackinnon’s TIGHT SOLIUS II in second with 15 pts.  The battle for third is virtually a three-way tie with Tor Mclaren’s INSPARA in third with 26 pts, Roger Phillips’s DESIGNSTAR 2 in fourth with 26 pts and David Mcgough’s JUST SO in fifth with 29 pts.

White Group experienced shifty conditions too with the breeze moving through 110 degrees during the day and ranging between 10 and 15 knots. The first race had to be abandoned for all classes after one lap but with some nifty relaying of courses, all three races were completed. CRO Peter Knight felt competitors had coped admirably well at the starts given the wind against tide situation, most boats were on the line every time with no need for general recalls. Ian Atkins’ run of success in the J/70s was halted by Django (Malcolm and Tristan Jaques) in two races. There was close racing in the J/80s and a dead heat between Betty (Jon Powell) and Boysterous (Ali Hall) in the first race, each scoring 1.5 points, with Juicy (Allan Higgs) only 24 seconds adrift in third place. Jasmine (Douglas Neville-Jones) came to the fore in Race 2 and Rock and Roll (Gillian Ross) in Race 3.

It was a good sunny day to enjoy Warsash Sailing Club’s riverside garden after racing where Jonathan Broad, Investment Manager from Brooks Macdonald, presented champagne to the weekly class winners and WSC member Aron Wellband from the SB20 Flutter won the jacket donated by SLAM UK. The event now takes a break for the Easter holiday and returns on 26th/27th April for the grand finale of both the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series and the Spring Championship.   For more Warsash Spring Championships sailing information