British Summer Time arrived for the second week of the Warsash Spring Series on March 25 but the early start did not deter the hundreds of sailors ready to compete. The wind played plenty of tricks but the full schedule of races was completed, albeit rather later in the day.
In a light and fickle breeze the Black Group committee boat initially waited at Hill Head buoy for the wind to fill in and steady. IRC4 had a separate start line nearer inshore. They benefited from better conditions and got away with only a slight delay. For the remaining six classes there was a longer postponement. The committee boat moved further north and at 1220 IRC1 and IRC2 were combined for a start near South Coast Sailing using a course of laid and fixed marks finishing at Hill Head. The J/Sprit and J/109 classes were also amalgamated followed by IRC3 and Sigma 38s racing together. Although the breeze stayed at 6 to 9 knots over the racing period, it swung by 40 degrees to turn beats and runs into reaches, with only minimal use of spinnakers.
In IRC4 the lead was constantly changing, especially between the two Impalas, though by the line and after a two hour race it was Warsash veteran Bernard Fyans helming his Mustang 30 Erik the Red who managed to gain enough lead to take both line and class honours.
Closer to the mainland shore the J/80s and SB3s also started. By the top mark the J/80s found that getting clean air was the priority and the fleet tended to sail higher than the spread mark. Those who succeeded made big gains. However the downside was when they gybed those boats found themselves to leeward of all the others. Progress back to the bottom mark was very protracted and the race officers made the sensible decision to shorten the course. Mark Baskerville helming Mistral was the main beneficiary and took his first gun of the series. One J/80 helm was heard to say that racing in two different winds systems with a hole in the middle was not his idea of fun and could they all be sent home. CRO Peter Knight however is made of sterner stuff than that and both fleets had to settle down until the wind sorted itself out.
In IRC 1 and IRC2, a few boats were adjudged OCS. In IRC 1 the Farr 45 RAN (Niklas Zennstrom) led the way but, on the first lap, she was hotly pursued by Kolga (British Sailing Academy) and Andrew Pearce’s new Ker 40 Magnum III. Although the new conditions had taken the tactical element out of the racing there were still opportunities for boats to make up places. On lap 2 Jonathon Goring’s Ker 40 Keromino had closed the gap on Magnum III and they started the last leg side by side. At the line Magnum III edged it by the length of her foredeck but she could only finish third behind RAN and Ken Lowes’ King 40 Cobra. With IRC 3 and Sigma 38s having a shorter windward leg the classes were completely mixed by the bottom mark and it was often a helmsman’s ability to find a clear path round the mark that paid the greatest dividend. It was only as the boats freed off to make for the finish at Hill Head that the relative positions became clearer. With boats finishing in a stream, the timekeepers were really earning their lunches. The closest finish, on handicap, was in IRC 3 where La Nef IV (John Noe) and Hot Rats (Robbie & Lis Robinson) were tied for 10th place.
Over on the Sportsboat course racing was finally resumed just before 13:00 and with a decent southeasterly breeze the fleets enjoyed two good races. Honours were shared in the J/80s where Rob Larke (J2x) and Ian Atkins (Boats.com) won a race apiece but in the SB3s Andrew Oddie found good boat speed in Underground Toys to take both races.
The Warsash Spring Series continues until April 29.