Friday, May 9, 2014

Warsash Spring Series Grand Finale

J/111 sailing Solent (Warsash, England)- After the Easter break, the closing races in the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series and Spring Championship took place over 26th/27th April 2014. Having had no problems with gales or flat calms, the event has been a great success all round, with new entries joining week by week as the weather became warmer, especially for the open sportsboats. Over the eight race days, the 100 plus team from Warsash Sailing Club has run over 170 separate races and each week title sponsors Brooks Macdonald have welcomed competitors back to the Club with champagne prizes for the lucky class winners.

Saturday- Spring Championship Day 3

This was an exhausting but exhilarating day, especially for the sportsboats in White Group which experienced gusts to 33 knots and lulls at 18 knots. Understandably, there were a number of broaches. (Ian Atkins – J/70) shredded her spinnaker during Race 2 but fortunately had a spare and still managed to win their race. Whilst most of the J/80 fleet stayed out for four races, several eventually stuck to white sails rather than risk using, and possibly losing, a spinnaker. Some in the J/70 classes decided, having worked so hard for the first two races, to call it a day.

The Black Group committee boat set up station initially east of East Bramble and the North Channel, then as the tide dropped moved to near Bart’s Bash buoy. The southerly breeze ranged from 16 to 22 knots with gusts to 25 knots. Four varied windward/leeward courses were designed. The first two had a leeward spreader leg to get boats back up-tide and to keep the beats and runs as true as possible.

Jubilee (Tony Dickin) also scored two wins in the J/109s chased by Stalker in the first race which went on to win the third. Jeez Louise (James Arnell) had a highly successful day in the J/111s with four straight bullets.

The RAF-crewed J/70 Team Spitfire RAFBF clinched a win by just one second from Django (Malcolm and Tristan Jaques) in the first race, the remaining contests going to Ian Atkins’ Betty (Jon Powell) took two wins in the J/80s; Jester (Michael  Lewis) and Rock and Roll (Gillian Ross) coming up trumps in the others.

J/111 Django sailing Solent in EnglandSunday- Spring Series Day 6/ Spring Championship Day 4

Sunday morning found the breeze had dropped to 16/20 knots. By the end of the morning the rain cleared and crews finished the day wearing sunglasses. Two races were scheduled for Black Group, starting with a two hour course for Race 1, reduced to 45 minutes for Race 2. The design was principally windward/leeward with beats south-easterly against the tide which continued to build during the day. Race 1 used the area between Ryde Middle and East Knoll banks and Race 2 to the east of the North Channel. All classes, except IRC4, started at East Knoll with an initial windward leg to Bart’s Bash followed by an exhilarating sleigh ride downwind. During this leg some chose to make a speedy swap for bigger headsails, ready for the next beat, to power more easily through the Solent chop. This being the final day of racing, many competitors needed to cover others, thinking about their placing overall as well as in individual races.

The race committee lost no time in getting the final race underway with a six mile course for IRC1 and IRC2 classes. The J/109s and IRC3 still had three legs to complete and started 30 minutes later. IRC3 and IRC4 shared a windward/leeward course with IRC4 getting away after a general recall. In IRC3 having taken the first race Induljence (Nick and Adam Munday) was disappointed with a poor start which dropped them to sixth and lost them the Series. Several leading J/109s had difficulty getting spinnakers down at one mark and had to sail on, letting the last two through to head the pack. At the line Just So (David McGough) and Jagerbomb (Paul Griffiths) took the flag.

The White Group committee boat had a busy time when one boat picked up a laid mark and started dragging it along. A replacement mark was deployed but that too was caught and removed by another boat; the two giving the impression of an unexpected “gate” on the course! In the confusion, the race was abandoned and restarted. took the first race in the J/70s by 24 seconds from Team Spitfire but dropped to sixth place in the second race when Django was the winner. In the J/80s, Betty has performed consistently very well and this year wins both the Spring Championship and Spring Series. She finished with an eight second win over Juicy in Race 1 and was runner-up to Aqua-J in the remaining races.

CRO White Group Peter Knight commented that this was the first time in his memory of the event that the Black Flag has stayed firmly below decks for the whole Series. He puts this good starting discipline down to an increasing number of boats having invested in new electronics to mark the start line.

When all the points were calculated, the J/111s had an incredibly competitive series for both the Black Group series as well as the Black Championship event.  Winning the Black Championship over the two weekend series was class newcomer Louise Makin & Chris Jones on JOURNEYMAKER 11 with 32.5 pts total.  Past champion Duncan Mcdonald sailed SHMOKIN JOE to a solid series to grab second with 36 pts and just squeaking into third was David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM.

For the Black Group series sailed only on Sundays from the start, it was the Apthorp’s J-DREAM taking top honors, followed by Makin/ Jones’s JOURNEYMAKER 11 in second and Cornell Riklin’s JITTERBUG in third.  In fact, the outcome of this spring-long series was pretty much determined by the last day’s racing, that’s how close it was!

The J/109s saw Paul Griffiths’s JAGERBOMB edge ahead of David Mcleman’s OFFBEAT for the Black Group Series win and David Mcgough’s JUST SO followed them taking third.  In the Championship series, Tony Dickin’s JUBILEE took the gold with Ian Mackinnon’s TIGH SOLIUS in second and David Mcgough’s JUST SO in third.

Things were close in IRC3 with Nick & Adam Munday’s INDULJENCE one point adrift from the lead after their less than stellar last race (snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?). Nevertheless, as the only boat with three bullets on the board and missing Race# 3, there’s was a tremendous performance against teams that sailed every single race.

The J/92 J’RONIMO sailed by David Greenhalgh in IRC 4 took class honors, a wonderful accomplishment for one of the long-standing J-sprit boats on the Solent. 

For the two sportsboat classes sailing in the White Group, it was a tale of two worlds for the J/70s and J/80s.  JOYRIDE skippered by Ian Wilson took the J/70 spring series with a total of 65 pts.  Taking second in the series was Malcolm & Tristan Jacques on DJANGO with 78 pts and third was Simon Cavey’s JUST4PLAY with 85 pts.  In the J/70 Championship series, it was clear that Ian Atkins’s team on BOATS.COM had benefitted from their experiences sailing in Key West Race Week, taking ten 1sts in fourteen races to win overall.  Second was Simon Ling’s RAF SPITFIRE crew with 34 pts, just one point ahead of Malcolm & Tristan Jacques DJANGO in third.

The J/80s saw past class champion Jon Powell’s BETTY sailed a very consistent series, finishing with 22.5 pts net.  Patrick Liardet’s AQUA-J took a comfortable second with Ali Hall’s BOYSTEROUS grabbing third. On the Championship weekend regatta, BETTY continued her winning ways, followed again by AQUA-J and Allan Higgs’s JUICY.

The final weekly champagne prizes were presented by Brooks Macdonald Director John Wallace, accompanied by his daughter Eleanor. The SLAM jacket went to Brian Moreton of the J/70 Jukebox. Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright/  For more Warsash Spring Series sailing information