Monday, October 31, 2016

Hamble Winter Series Report

J/111 sailing Solent (Hamble, Great Britain)- The annual fall offshore classic on the Solent has been taking place over the past few weekend.  The Hamble River Sailing Club is hosting its 35th Hamble Winter Series and, to date, they have been blessed with three mostly sunny weekends for the hardy sailing teams.  The fleet is split into IRC handicap divisions as well as one-design racing for J/70s, J/80s, J/88s and J/109s.  Here are the reports from each weekend- courtesy of Louay Habib.

A chilly start greeted competitors on the first day, but the sun soon warmed up the Solent to deliver an enjoyable day on the water in bright sunshine.

J/97E sailing on the SolentOut on the race area, the wind settled to a shifty 6 knot northerly at start time – but despite the strong tides, there was enough wind to get a race in. This year's series sees a strong entry of winter series stalwarts but also lots of new boats – leaving the podium very much up for grabs in all classes.

To give all fleets a chance to get ashore in good time, the race committee had advised they may reverse the starting order on occasion this year - and thus it was the smaller end of the fleet, IRC 4, that was the first to start.

In all classes, the fleet soon split up the first beat, and a left shift near the top mark lifted those who had chosen that side onto the layline.

The wind eased during the race, but filled in in patches to make for a classic game of snakes and ladders, with gains there for the taking for boats that could take advantage of the wind and tide.

In IRC 3, the J/92S UPSTART (Robin Stevenson) took the second spot.  The J/109s dominated the IRC2 class in terms of numbers – and it was JIRAFFE (Simon Perry) and JAGO (Mike Yates) that took the two top slots.

Paul Ward and crew on the J/88 EAT SLEEP J REPEART kicked their series off to a good start by taking the top spot in the J/88 class. TGIRS (Gavin Howe) and J-DREAM (Richard and Kirsty Apthorp) completed the podium.

J/88s sailing on the SolentCommenting on the day's racing, Paul Ward, secretary of the J/88 Class said: "What a great way to get a busy autumn's sailing off to a good start with a sunny day on the water and good class racing for the J/88 fleet. Thanks to the race team for a great day"

With one race completed, the easing wind and building tide led principal race officer Stuart Childerley to hoist AP over A and send the assembled fleet home for the day – giving crews the opportunity to enjoy the food and drink on offer at HRSC and discuss tactics overlooking the water from the sunny Clubhouse terrace.

PRO Stuart Childerley, commented: "Two new daily prizes have been introduced for this year's series: the ‘Best Start’ of the day, chosen by the race committee, and the 'Top Dog' prize for the best performance, worked out based on the best corrected time over distance sailed totaled over all races of the day."

The “Best Start” was won by Chris Burleigh’s J/109 JYBE TALKIN and the “Top Dog” was another J/109- JIRAFFE (Simon Perry).

J/109 sailing off Cowes on the SolentWEEK 2
Sunday saw the second race day of the Winter Series– which, after a changeable forecast, delivered some champagne sailing conditions– albeit with some choice shifts to stir up the fleets a little. PRO Stuart Childerley managed to fit two races in from a startline in the vicinity of North Ryde Middle buoy. Two races on and in some fleets the pecking order was beginning to show in the overall results. Top photographer Paul Wyeth was afloat snapping away, and more shots will be available on his website,

IRC 2 saw Simon Perry's J/109 JIRAFFE took a first, leaving them only point in the lead.

In IRC 3, Stevenson's J/92S UPSTART added two bullets to their score, taking them comfortably clear at the top overall. Meanwhile, with Jonathan Stevens' J/97 WINDJAMMER took second in the final race of the day.

In the J/88 class, the Apthorp's J-DREAM improved on last week's third place, scoring two firsts to take them straight to the top of the overall standings. Dirk van Beek's SABRIEL JR scored two second places, with Howe's TIGRIS banking two third places.

Competitors swapped tall tales back at the HRSC clubhouse, where the day sponsor, The Bugle pub, was providing the prizes.

PRO, Stuart Childerley announced the special prize winners- one of them was Simon Cavey’s JUST-4-PLAY who was sailing in the Hamble One-Design Championship.

J/92 Upstart sailing off Cowes, EnglandHamble One Design Championships
A chilly northeasterly breeze, accompanied by beautiful sunshine provided near-perfect conditions for the racing in the first weekend of the Hamble One Design Championships, which featured racing for J/70 and J/80 classes. Kathy Smalley, CRO Hamble One Design Championships, commented: 'The lighter winds on Saturday resulted in shifty conditions at the top end of the course- as would be expected from that direction - meaning the top marks were moved constantly to compensate for that and the increasing tides. The stronger wind on Sunday was much more steady.'

The J/70s are a very competitive, yet friendly, class with 11 boats finishing within a minute in one race. The starts were equally competitive and in race 6 a sudden gust of wind at 30 seconds to go resulted in everybody being early and a general recall. The prompt use of the U-flag brought the fleet back under control, and for race 7 the competitors were back to their normal good behavior.

The competitors were undecided on which way to go on the beats and runs, with splits on every race. In race 1 everybody wanted to go up-tide and so chose the right hand mark at the gate, but a quick tweak meant that the fleet were spread for the rest of the weekend.

The course ended with a reach to the finish and with a building wind there were whoops of delight as the winners flew across the finish line.

In the 12-strong J/70 class, four different boats took bullets– but after 7 races it was Mark Lees' JUST-4-SALE that was topping the class, a healthy eight points clear of two boats. Patrick Liardet's COSMIC and Simon Cavey's JUST-4-PLAY were tied on points, with COSMIC just edging ahead on countback– which should ensure some close racing in the second half of the Championships in two weeks' time.

The 8-boat J/80 fleet also had a good weekend of sailing. At the halfway stage, the class was being led by Jon Powell's BETTY - a stalwart of the fleet. But, they didn't have it all their own way. Bullets were also recorded by AQUA J, owned by Terence O'Neil, sitting in 2nd overall, and Michael Lewis' JESTER, who took 3rd for the weekend.

Hamble Big Boat Championships
The first of two weekends of racing in the Hamble Big Boat Championships kicked off this weekend.

IRC 1 also saw some extremely close racing, with boats switching positions all around the race course. After 6 races, it was Simon Bamford's J/111 KESTREL sitting in 2nd place.

J/88 sailing off Cowes, EnglandWEEK 3
Despite a pessimistic forecast, oilskin-swaddled crews enjoyed a day of champagne sailing – with only a few rain squalls to remind them that Autumn is setting in.

A wind direction of around 215 degrees with big gusts under ominous clouds allowed the race team to send the assembled fleets on a course that led them to the north side of the Bramble Bank. Kathy Smalley, assistant race officer, said 'We had a really good day on the water and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to send everyone to a bit of the Solent they don't normally get to sail in – with the Calshot shoreline and Bramble Bank to add some tactical challenges to the race course!'

There was some close racing in all classes – with some split-second finishes. In the J/88s, there was an even closer finish, with Tim Tolcher’s RAGING BULL and J-DREAM crossing the line exactly abreast for an equal fourth place!

In IRC 1, the fleet was extremely close, and despite two boats over the line in the second race the fleet fought all the way to a very tight finish, with only 4 seconds separating 3rd and 5th.

After a close and busy day on the water, it was Christopher Daniel's J/122 JUNO that moved up the leaderboard with a 3rd in the first race and a comfortable win in the second race.

In IRC 2, Perry's J/109 JIRAFFE scored a second and a third apiece, leaving them in second overall for the series so far.

J/88 sailing SolentIRC 3 leaders, Stevenson's J/92S UPSTART, scored a 3rd and a 4th this week and Andy Howe's J/97 BLACKJACK II won a race. Meanwhile, David Greenhalgh's J/92 J’RONIMO filled in the gaps with two solid second places.  As a result, UPSTART still leads the series with the J/92 J’RONIMO in 4th place, the J/97 BLACKJACK II in 5th position and the J/97 WINDJAMMER in 6th.

In the one-design J/88 class, experience paid off for Paul and Marie-Claude Heys' JENGA as they scored two comfortable first places – which moves them closer to the top of the leaderboard. Class captain Paul Ward and crew on EAT SLEEP J REPEART and the Apthorp’s J-DREAM scored a second place each.  Consequently, J-DREAM has climbed atop the leaderboard for the series followed by EAT SLEEP J REPEAT, TIGRIS, JENGA and RAGING BULL.

The J/109 class continues to see Perry’s JIRAFFE leading with Burleigh’s JYBE TALKIN second, Cotterill’s MOJO RISIN in third, Tom Chatterton’s RED ARROW fourth and Mike Yates’ JAGO in fifth.

At a packed prize-giving in the HRSC clubhouse, supported by Wadsworth, Stuart Childerley announced the day's special prizes.  The “Best Start” this week went to the Bamford’s J/111 KESTREL! “They had a perfect time on distance run and nailed the first start, bang on the line,” said Stuart.   Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth/ and Hamo Thornycroft.   For more Hamble Winter Series sailing information