Wow – what a weekend… The first half of the two headed Warsash Spring Championships delivered spectacular sailing in cold easterly winds under clear blue skies.
Designstar 2, Jago and Jumping Jellyfish joined Jiraffe and Jukebox to form a 5 boat J/109 contingent within the 22 boat, IRC 2 fleet. If only we could get everybody out on the same day, we’d comfortably field more than the 8 boats required on the line to justify our own start.
The fleet were put through their paces with four races on Saturday. The race officer suggested that the first was a bit short, the third a bit long, but that the final, fourth race would be “just right” and so it was! Those fresh to the water were left wishing they’d put in a couple of Sunday mornings earlier in the regatta to ease into the new season as the onslaught of activity proved a test on bodies and boat preparation.
The first race was indeed short. A two lap windward/leeward in fresh easterly to south easterly winds of 15 kts to 20 kts, initially on the cusp of the range of the medium jib. Cold weather gave the wind a greater bite than we’re used to in the summer and a flooding tide kicked up some choppy solent conditions. Fresh out on the water with a new logo, Jago led the fleet from the committee boat end, out to the right and around the windward mark first with Jiraffe in hot pursuit. Jukebox suffered a broken shackle on the headsail tack, but there was confusion amongst many of the fleet as to the correct leeward mark and as Jiraffe screamed off over the wrong horizon wrestling down the kite, Jukebox and Designstar 2 slipped through, then Jumping Jellyfish, leaving a rather dejected Jiraffe to bring up the rear.
But the disappointment of the first race provided the stimulus required for Jiraffe to up their game and they followed up with three wins in the following races. Jago was consistently getting off the line in the best position and showed great speed upwind. But Jumping Jellyfish was quick to get back on form and 2nd and 3rd places in the next two races was shared between Jago and Jellyfish.
Sunday’s races count for both the Spring Championships and the Spring Series. The five Championships starters were joined by Jybe Talkin’, Mojo Risin’ and Red Arrow from the RAF Sailing Association giving us 7 on the water. Add to this tally two other participants from earlier in the series, Jubilee and Jengu and we have 9 J/109s competing through the series – a pretty good turnout and I believe the second biggest one design participation in either White or Black Group after the J/70s.
Plenty of wind again from the East and still cold. But the sun shone. Jago and Jumping Jellyfish got away in the first race with Jiraffe hot on their heels. Jago profited from the last of the flood tide out to the right, but Jellyfish did well in the second half of the beat having pushed hard out to the left. Jago led around the first mark by a comfortable 2 minutes, but Jellyfish and Jiraffe closed the gap to less than a minute by the last mark and Jellyfish just managed to catch Jago on the finish line to win with Jiraffe a close third behind Jago. Great racing.
The second race saw the wind really pick up with some stiff gusts topping out at 28 kts (according to Jago’s instruments) and with an opposing tide, there was quite a swell. Jago was again leading at the top mark and clocked 12 kts on a couple of good waves under A4. But it was Jiraffe who stuck their neck out under A2 and with some steady boat handling took off into the lead ahead of Jellyfish, just as the latter’s kite disappeared in an explosion of white sailcloth and leech tape. The gust laid waste to many of the surrounding yachts who lay smitten on their sides all around. Sobered by the carnage, Jiraffe switched to A4 for the next run managed to stay the right way up to the finish. Jukebox and Red Arrow seized the advantage and pushed up the fleet with Jukebox taking second, then Red Arrow fourth, just behind Jago.
Jukebox has elected to race with overlapping headsails for this regatta, which under the new class rules means that they are not allowed in-haulers. It also means that in IRC 2, they are labouring under a higher rating. But in the conditions of the weekend, we were all on J3’s in any case, so Jukebox was unable to extract any advantage. We’ll have to await lighter conditions to see whether the tables are turned when we’re all on our largest permitted sails.
After the first half of the Championships, Jiraffe leads from Jago by 4 points, with Jumping Jellyfish just a point behind Jago and Jukebox just behind. It’s still very close indeed and with another 6 races scheduled for next weekend there’s a lot to play for. In IRC 2, the J/109s are doing well with Jiraffe in second, Jago in fourth and Jellyfish in sixth.
With just two races to go in the spring series on the final day, Sunday 28th April, J/109s are led by Jiraffe followed by Jybe Talkin’ and Mojo Risin’. In IRC 2, Jiraffe is in second, just one point behind the Elan, Passion, but being chased hard by the J/112E Devanti Tyres.
Words from onboard Jukebox, Jago and Jiraffe
Photos from Closehauledphotography, see them all here.