The final gathering for the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series and Spring Championship took place over April 27-28. 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.

J/70 North Sails Photo Iain McLuckie

J/70 North Sails - photo Iain McLuckie

April 27 – Spring Championship Day 3
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.  After a 50 minute race Tokoloshe (Mills 40 - Michael Bartholomew) counted her first win in the Championship followed by Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 39 Antix. There was keen competition further down the results when, after handicap calculations, eighth place produced a dead heat between Jeez Louise and Belladonna. La Reponse (Beneteau First 40 - Andrew McIrvine) beat Premier Flair (Elan 410 - Jim Macgregor) in IRC2 and Sardonyx IX (William Edwards) topped 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. The tussle between Tokoloshe  and Antix continued in IRC1, with the Irish boat scoring a first in the final race. La Reponse made a clean sweep in IRC2 as did Sardonyx  IX 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 and SB20s got away cleanly only for two SB20s to be swept onto the anchor line of the committee boat and across its bows, with the tide pinning them down. For the J/80s the start line was moved and a large fender marked the anchor chain! T

he 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 resailed. 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 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. Gill Race Team (Craig Burlton) headed the SB20 class after four races.

April 28 – Spring Series Day 6, Spring Championship Day 4
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.

Tokoloshe once more came to the fore in IRC1 beating Magnum III (Ker 40 – Andrew Pearce) by over a minute. In IRC2 Richard Fildes and the team on Impetuous had travelled from Abersoch, north Wales, to use the final Spring Series race for training and to test new sails. Their debut brought them a first place by 38 seconds from Jim Macgregor’s Premier Flair. Mike Bridges in Elaine chalked up his second win in IRC3 and 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.

IRC4’s start line was near Royal Southern buoy. After a half hour delay awaiting the arrival of the wind, racing got underway.  The quarter tonners kept to the port side of the first beat to a laid mark with others to starboard trying to maximise the benefits of the tide in the early light winds. Flashheart (Mike Webb and Tom Bailey) was first round and led for some time. From 7 knots at the beginning, the breeze steadily increased to 15 knots and above. By this time Aguila (Sam Laidlaw) held the fleet in her wake until all boats had to make navigation decisions at the Brambles Bank. Menace (Tim Rees, Derek and James Morland) kept well over the bank, but Aguila slipped into an adverse tide. Capitalising on this small mistake Menace was able to win by a minute. Prospero of Hamble (Allan Fraser) was again the best of the Sigma 33s.

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. There were also three different winners in the SB20s – Henri Lloyd/Forelle Estates (Llewellyn, Vigus and Wakefield), Wkd (Geoff Carveth) and Gill Race Team (Craig Burlton).

The prizegiving for the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series and Spring Championship takes place on May 17 and all competitors are welcome to join the race management team at Shore House, Warsash to celebrate another enjoyable event.

Results: Spring Series
IRC1 Tokoloshe (Michael Bartholomew)
IRC2 Puma Logic (Sailing Logic)
IRC3 Elaine (Mike Bridges)
IRC 4 Menace (Tim Rees, Derek and James Morland)
J/109 Jahmali (Mike and Sarah Willis)
Sigma 38 Mefisto (Kevin Sussmilch)
J/70 North Sails (Ruairidh Scott)
J/80 Betty (Jon Powell)
SB20 Whyaduck (Tom and Richard Clay)

Spring Championship
IRC1 Tokoloshe (Michael Bartholomew)
Farr 45 Rebel (Stewart Whitehead)
IRC2 La Reponse  (Andrew McIrvine)
IRC3 Starspray (Bateson family and friends)
IRC4 Aguila (Sam Laidlaw)
J/111 Jeez Louise ((James Arnell)
J/109 Sardonyx IX (William Edwards)
J/70 North Sails (Ruairidh Scott)
J/80 J’ai Deux Amours (Stewart Hawthorn)
SB20 Henri Lloyd/Forelle Estates (Jo Llewellyn, Jerry Vigus, Nigel Wakefield)