It was a busy weekend for Warsash Sailing Club on April 21-22 when Saturday racing for the Spring Championship was added to the penultimate gathering of the Spring Series the next day. New entries had also come in resulting in over 190 boats out on the water enjoying a range of weather conditions.

IRC2 Warsash Spring Series 2012

The IRC2 fleet heads downwind - photo Eddie Mays

Saturday April 21 – Warsash Spring Championship Day 1
The Warsash Spring Championship offers an intense schedule of four days’ racing for selected classes. This year all IRC1 and IRC2 boats are eligible as well as Farr 45 and J/109 one designs. Sportsboats include Laser SB3, J/80 and Quarter-ton classes. Sections are also included for Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup triallists with an entry of 17 boats ranging from Cobra (Michael Blair – King 40) to Mike Moxley’s HOD35 Malice, well known on the Solent circuit, and the J/109s Yeoman of Wight and Diamond Jem. The planned programme aims at 12 races for Black Group and 14 for White Group. The results of every race count towards the final placings.

The forecast five knots did not materialise in the morning and everyone waited for the wind until around 1130. When the breeze arrived it was in the 8/10 knot range west/southwesterly to westerly but shifty. Racing for Black Group got underway just before noon near Fastnet Insurance buoy with short windward/leeward courses set. In the afternoon the wind increased and dark clouds formed resulting in gusts to 20 knots in the showers. This enabled longer six mile courses to be set for the second and third races. It was a long day for competitors who were finishing the third race after 1600, so it was sensibly decided not to go for a fourth race. White Group racing under the lee of the northern shore had less stable conditions and there was an interval of two hours between the first and second races. Even so, three races were completed except for the Quarter Tonners which just managed a short fourth race.

The Farr 45s enjoyed close tussles. Alice 2 (Simon Henning) beat Kolga (British Keelboat Academy) by seven seconds in Race 1 whilst Werewolf (Jerry Otter) was only a further five seconds adrift. Werewolf gained her revenge in Race 2 but missed out to Alice 2 by a slightly larger margin in Race 3.

IRC1 included a fair-sized entry from J/Boat designs but in the event Michael Bartholomew’s King 40 Tokoloshe took two wins with Trustmarque Quokka (Grand Soleil 43 Peter Rutter) taking one. IRC2 had a smaller entry comprising First 40s and 40.7s, Elans and the Grand Soleil 39 Malaika. Winston (First 40) squeezed a three second lead over sistership Tarka II in Race 1 but Tarka II came back on form for the latter races. The CC class for Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup triallists produced three different winners:  Eaujet, Philosophie IV and Magnum III. Jahmali gained two wins in the J/109s with Just So winning Race 2.

In both the SB3s and J/80s a group of four boats has started  to edge ahead of the rest of the fleet. Including Team Russia, Henri Lloyd, Orthteam and Robina in the SB3s.The Irish quarter tonner Anchor Challenge achieved the best points in the Quarter ton class.

Sunday April 22 -  Spring Series Day 5, Spring Championship Day 2
Conditions in the morning were bright and sunny with a forecast for increasing wind and squally showers. In Black Group, IRC1, IRC2 and J/109s were scheduled for two races.  IRC1 was joined by the Farr 45s and Commodores' Cup triallists which made for a lively start of 27 boats.

Even with an adverse tide, the fleet pushed the line and were all recalled. IRC2 fared better with only four individual recalls. Starting at Fastnet Insurance, the first leg was a long beat to Air Canada buoy by the Brambles Bank. Most tacticians decided to put in a long port tack across the tide towards Calshot shore and by the mark Jim Macgregor’s Elan 410 Premier Flair had established a lead which was extended by over three minutes at the finish.

The restart of IRC1 was under the ‘Z’ flag penalty system. Four boats were penalised including Peter Rutter’s Trustmarque Quokka which finished first but was downgraded seven points. Jerry Otter’s Werewolf won his second race of the weekend in the Farr 45s and Michael Blair on board Cobra did well to take line honours and a class win in the CC1 division from Andrew Mills’ Dignity (Mills 39). This was Andrew’s third time as runner-up over the weekend. The J/109s were given a shorter first leg and by the time the leaders were round Flying Fish buoy, they were sailing back downwind in parallel with IRC1.


Warsas Spring Series

Photo Eddie Mays

One long race
The remaining Black Group classes enjoyed one longer race using a combination of fixed and laid marks with a windward/leeward loop towards the finish. The J/Sprit class got away cleanly but in others there were several declared OCS, including some of the front runners for overall honours.

Again classes found themselves sailing alongside as the Sigma 38s caught IRC3 in the increasingly windy conditions. By this time the tide had turned. Conditions became uncomfortable and the last downwind leg was littered with broaching yachts. In the Sigma 38 class, the leaders were well bunched with Kindred Spirit (Rob and Julie Lee) having their bow just ahead. However, the eagle-eyed race team had spotted them starting early, enabling Mefisto to add another first to their tally with an unassailable lead. It was good to see Jamie Wilkinson and Philip Meakins out and enjoying the racing too. Both Mike Bridges (IRC3) and Tony Mack (J/Sprit) recorded consecutive wins.

Shorter courses
With the first races completed for the relevant classes the Black Group committee boat moved north and west for the start of the second and shorter race. The wind had by now swung towards the southwest which allowed the continued use of Air Canada as the first mark followed by a short series of runs and beats before finishing at East Knoll buoy. In the first fleet, the changed tidal conditions meant most boats cleared the start line and kept on their starboard tack all the way to the port layline. Judging that point was crucial. Some in all classes overstood the mark and lost places.

Jeffrey Blair’s Farr 45 Espresso Martini, badged in the colours of Team Pindar, was first to the mark but only by a length or so. In the cluster of boats immediately behind,  the two Ker 40s Magnum III (Andrew Pearce) and Keronimo (Jonathon Goring) with Eddie Warden-Owen in the afterguard, went round side by side. Magnum III edged ahead but then Keronimo caught a gust and accelerated so quickly she could have been a 49er! They established enough of a lead to head CC1. One of the most interesting features of this year’s series has been watching how these two boats perform in a variety of conditions. When the breeze is up they certainly come into their own downwind.

Second race recalls
In the second race, the entire J/109 class was OCS and a general recall was signalled. They got away OK at the second attempt under a ‘Z’ flag preparatory signal. The afternoon conditions also suited the two sportsboat classes racing near the entrance to Southampton Water, although by the final race, conditions were brisk and even the front runners in each class were having difficulty gybing smoothly. Now joined by the Spring Championship contenders, Laser SB3s and J/80s had increased in class size to 20 plus.

With the J/80 World Championships being held at Dartmouth in June, there has been a steady increase in both quantity and quality. Rob Larke has been the man to beat but this weekend Stewart Hawthorn, returning to the class, has slowly been narrowing the gap.

Although Rob holds a substantial lead in the main series, things are much tighter in the Spring Championship with Rob (J2x) and Stewart (J’ai Deux Amours) only a couple of points apart. Ian Atkins ( had a bad result in the first race of the day and trails slightly but in a 14 race series, with no discard, this could still prove a small setback. Race honours in the SB3s have been more clearly divided, although Oleg Zherbtsov (Team Russia) has won half the races completed. Both Joe Llewellyn (Henri Lloyd) and Jerry Hill (3 Sad Old Blokes) have endured one poor result each, leaving a lot to do on the remaining two days.

Next week
Next weekend has the grand finale on April 28-29 with a full schedule of racing over the weekend which sees the conclusion of both events in the Warsash Spring Series and Spring Championship Powered by Slam.