With less than a month to go until the 2011 Mini Ton Cup, hosted by the Island Sailing Club, the Solent based mini-tonners got a taste of competitive racing again in the third round of the IRC Solent Series which was organised and hosted by Portsmouth Sailing Club.
With little wind, the race committee headed south toward Ryde Pier and were able to eventually lay marks to form a windward-leeward course across the Southern shore of the East Solent.
Six mini-tonner owners sailed in the event but unfortunately, due to a shortage of crew, only three of the boats made it to the start line with the Ken Doherty (Solo) and Rowan Horner (Meg) joining Matt Atkins on his Limbo 6.6 Fuzzy Rush and George Beevor (Roughian) guesting on Olly Bewes’ Sonata High Note.
David Cowell’s Eskymo went into the first race on top class four having won in the Clarkson Cup in May (the June round having been cancelled due to excessive wind). High Note had struggled for crew in the Clarkson Cup but was fresh from winning the Sonata Salver for the second year running in June’s Round the Island Race. Fuzzy Rush was making her eagerly anticipated first start of the series.
In light airs, the ODM was the favoured end of a square line due to there being less tide along Ryde Sands. Both Eskymo and Fuzzy Rush picked this end and got away well whilst High Note suffered from being rolled at the committee boat end. The error was not repeated however and the Sonata gradually hauled the Limbo back. At the final mark it looked as if Eskymo would be clear and in the lead but a problem with dropping the spinnaker meant allowed the other two to catch and on the line the three mini tonners finished within four seconds of each other. High Note nudging into third place overall and first among the MTs.
In the second race of the day, on a similar course, High Note was alone amongst the fleet in spotting that the tide had gone slack and that there was better pressure off shore. In doing so she was the first of the IRC 4 boats to the windward mark, though only just in what proved to be a very close race in which the mini-tonners kept up and sometimes ahead of the larger and faster rated boats such as Kathy Smalley’s Laser 28 Flying Fish.
This time around it was High Note’s turn to have trouble with the final mark rounding, allowing Eskymo to finally get away and secure a victory to add to their sixth place in the first race. High Note came in fourth with Fuzzy Rush seventh. This meant left High Note and Eskymo sharing third place in IRC four on seven points with Fuzzy Rush scoring eleven.
Thoughts will now turn to the Mini Ton Cup hosted by the Island Sailing Club on 20th August where a large fleet is expected to turn out to challenge Shallot, the defender. There is still more time for Mini-tonners to enter. Those without an IRC certificate are warmly invited to compete for the Solent Trophy for vessels with an Island Sailing Club Rating System handicap. It promises to be the largest gathering of mini-tonner owners in decades and a great opportunity to meet afterwards in Cowes and share stories, ideas and doubtless a few beers.
See www.minitonner.com for more information.