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Warsash Spring Championships First Weekend

by Peter Bateson and Peter Knight 19 Apr 2023 13:44 BST 15-16 April 2023
Elaine Again and Malice in IRC2 on the Warsash Spring Championships First Weekend © Close Hauled Photography

The first Saturday of the Spring Championship saw Black and White Group racing side by side off the Hill Head shore in a N/NNW breeze that started the day at around 11 knots and eased to 6 knots during the afternoon.

As always when the breeze is coming off the shore, there were many windshifts to exercise the course setters and tacticians alike. Both groups were sent windward-leeward courses in intermittent spring sunshine.

The Black Group start and finish lines were between East Knoll and Hill Head buoys, with the windward marks varying during the day from near Fumesy 4C and William 4L, both of which were used at some time during the day as well as a variety of coloured inflatables. Cape 31s and IRC 1 class had courses of about 5-5¾ miles, IRC 2 4 half 4¾ miles, and IRC 3 about 3¾-4 miles. Four races were completed during the day.

In the Cape 31s, Simon Perry and Giraffe took control with three 1sts and a 2nd; Bullitt (Julian Metherell) and Chaotic (Nick Phillips) contesting for second place but 7 points adrift of Jiraffe at the end of the first day. In a rare coming together (or at any rate, rare so far in this event) Bullitt and Flurg tangled at the leeward mark in race 4, Flurg missed the mark, went back and into last place. IRC 1 was dominated by J/111s, Journeymaker (Chris Jones) with 2 firsts and a second needing a tie-breaker to put her just ahead of Jitterbug (Cornel Riklin), also with 2 firsts but marginally lower scoring in one of the other races.

In IRC 2, the Arcona 340 Argo took the first win by 22 seconds on corrected time from Mike Moxley's HOD35 Malice. After that, the J/109s Jukebox (John Smart) and Jago (Mike Yates) shared the spoils, Jukebox heading the table at the end of the day only on tie-break count-back. Ed Mockridge and the JPK 1010 edged Malice for third place. Four IRC3 boats took wins in the 4 races, with James Crew's Quokka leading at the end of the day by one point over Ian Handley's Mustang 30 Banter, with whom she had actually tied for first place on the 2nd race.

Sunday dawned cloudy and windless. It seemed over-optimistic but the race committee went out and dropped anchor. Several boats didn't come out, assuming that no breeze would materialise, and several that had come out went home again an hour after the scheduled start time.

However, half an hour later a zephyr started to make itself felt, from the SSW and racing was attempted in an initially very light breeze at 1230 over a short windward-leeward course. By half way through the race, a light breeze was filling in nicely at around 6-8 knots and the race was completed satisfactorily. The race committee re-aligned the race course as the breeze went into the south-west but did not lengthen it. The second and final race of the day proved quite short as the breeze held and indeed rose slightly to 8010 knots. However, the competitors weren't complaining as they had got in two races that had seemed most unlikely during the morning.

The Sunday races scored both in the Championship and the 6-week series. In the Championship, Simon Perry and Jiraffe continued as they had started, with a 1st and a 2nd to leave him 4 points clear in the Cape 31s at the end of the first of the two Championship weekends after the single discard had kicked in. Bullitt lies 2nd and Chaotic now 3rd. In IRC1, the J/111s had collectively gone home half an hour before the announcement at midday of racing about to start, so Sailing Logic were able to clock up a first win in IRC 1 with Lancelot II and a crew largely comprising 'learners.' The J/109s continued at the front, each with a 1st and a 2nd, and Jukebox edged one point in front overall after the discard. The newly entered Quarter Tonner Pacifist (Duncan Peace) won both the races but carries only DNCs from Saturday, hence with two 2nds, Quokka now heads the class by 4 half points over fellow Warsash SC member Jon Powell on Betty (Seaquest SJ320). Banter dropped down to 4th overall with a gear failure and retirement.

The "Sunday Series" scoring has Jiraffe leading IRC 1. The Arcona 38 Triarchy (Ollie Reynolds and Faith Burns) are 2 points ahead of the J/109 Jybe Talkin' in IRC 2 with another J/109 Mojo Risin' 3rd. Quokka lies first in IRC 3 by 3 points over Betty, with David Greenhalgh's J'ronimo 3rd, scoring a steady string of 2nd and 3rd places, showing the importance of consistency.

On Saturday, over in White Group, the J/70s and SB20s were out for their first races of the season. Being to the north of the North Channel, and closer inshore, the wind was a little more shifty and kept the mark layers busy responding to the demands of the race officer, whose attempts to keep the course true didn't always match the whims of the wind.

The first 3 races for both classes got away cleanly under a 'P'. The J/70s had three different winners, Joskin (Henry Edwards), Jenga8 (Andrew Barraclough) and Jellyfish (Finley Dickinson) with five boats having at least one top three place. EV Experts (Tim Collins) was the most consistent with three thirds. The gusts in the first race provided some gentle planning downwind, but, in line with the forecast, there was a slow drop in strength.

In the SB20 class, Betty (Simon Berry) took the first two races, with Twenty (Mark Gillett) taking the third race. Tan Gwillt took most of the remaining top three places with two seconds, and a third.

At the start of the fourth race the wind really began to play tricks and shifted left and dropped away. The first start was abandoned, course adjusted left, and restarted. Well, the sequence was restarted, but as the wind faded the AP came out again. With no wind in sight, it was decided to call it a day.

Sunday dawned a flat day. The forecast was light and very shifty, which suggest that no racing would happen. However, around midday, after several brief attempt of 5 knots from the east and the west, the wind began to fill in from the south and a course was quickly set up and racing got under way. Surprisingly, the wind held and three short races were completed with the axis following a trend to the right.

In the J/70s Jellyfish took the first race, and followed it with two seconds, with EV Experts taking the other two races. Jenga8 completed the places with a second and two thirds.

The SB20s managed to claim the only recall, and a general at that, in their second race with a classic mid-line bunch going over early. The restart, using 'U', saw 6a Vision squeezed over to claim the first starting penalty.

Twenty carried on where they left off on Saturday afternoon and took all three races, with Betty taking two seconds and a fourth, Chris Sproat took most of the other places with a second and two thirds.

At the halfway point of the championship, with a discard to kick on after the next race, it is all to play for in the J/70s with Jellyfish and EV Experts are tied on 14 points, with Jenga 8 just one point behind. In the SB20s consistency is being to show with Twenty leading Betty by 5 points and Tan Gwillt 10 points behind in third.

Next weekend will see the remaining planned 6 races for Black Group and seven for White Group.

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