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Warsash Spring Series

A highly competitive series of six races ‘round the cans’, which take place on Sundays through March and April, in the Solent. A great way to get back on a boat early in the year. There are a variety of classes, including some one-design categories. See Warsash Spring Series for more details.

The Spring Series forms the first part of LCSC's race programme for 2007, continuing where the Hamble Winter Series left off. Each weekend there is race practice/training on Saturday and a race on the Sunday. We expect to be racing J/109s as we did last year. See reports from 2006 below.

This is an ideal opportunity for people who want to try racing or improve this facet of their sailing. You do not need to have racing experience, just enthusiasm.

If you are interested in taking part please contact the Rear Commodore Offshore Racing .

Race 4 – Warsash Spring Series – 2nd April 2006 – Notes from the rail on High Tension

After a windy practice day on the Saturday, which saw the wind building through the afternoon, it seemed quite calm in Hamble marina. We were warned that the wind was similar to the day before out in the Solent with winds expected to build. As ever we left the pontoon later than planned, having just changed to the racing main, and still sorting out lines. As usual we agreed that we really should try and get up earlier next week.

Nipping down to get my life jacket the forecast on radio came out with the "and gusting to 40 knots in the afternoon". I looked at Mark, who comfortably assured me we would have finished racing by then. Up on deck we got the main up and followed the other boats to the committee boat. After a couple of delays our race was announced and the 10 minute count down started. There were ten J109s racing, plus a few other bowsprit boats in our start. With full main and no 3 Genoa, we had a great clean start, the rest of the field were bunched towards the committee boat end and we got across the middle of the line with clean air and speed. I did note that most other boats had gone for the reef option, so hoped the wind would not be building too quickly.

On the first beat the two closest boats to us were Zelda and Red Arrow, who have had good results in the series so far. After a couple of tacks we were just ahead of Zelda and well ahead of Red Arrow and feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Good call on tactics, excellent team work from helm and main, good trim on the Genoa, and a serious attempt to hike out by those of us on the rail, was having the desired effect. Then the first disaster struck, something went bang and the Genoa started flapping very angrily. The sheet had severed one foot from the sail. We tacked onto the other side and foredeck retied what remained of the sheet onto the Genoa, we tacked back and on we went, but Red Arrow was now ahead of us. The No 3 Genoa was also looking pretty ragged after its flapping interlude, and we were concerned that in the strong winds it would not survive the race and we decided to therefore put up the 3.5 which was in better state of repair.

After a quick change we set off again at full speed with the newer (a relative term) sail. Having watched the few brave but largely disastrous attempts by other boats to fly the spinnaker, we took the cautious and ultimately sensible decision to not attempt to hoist the spinnaker.

Once again the boat speed was good and things seemed to be working well when there was another bang, the other Genoa sheet severed. We gibed and foredeck set off to do the required once more, a third bang followed swiftly, the original Genoa sheet went again. Luckily we did not loose our foredeck or his hands, although it must have been a very close call, since he was dealing with the other sheet at the time. We then had no option but to bring the Genoa down and use the spinnaker sheets instead.

By the time we had sorted all of these problems, I think we were at the back of the fleet, although it was hard to tell. As the race went on, the number of boats sailing around us seemed to dramatically decline in number. We did eventually put in a reef, the winds continued to build and we thought our main sheet man might want to be able to raise his arm to mouth level at the end of the race.

Looking at the rest of the fleet, there was one J105, who were having an amazing time surfing behind their spinnaker, and there was one larger boat who managed to fly their spinnaker, despite the pole having come loose, but other than that it seemed all the other boats were in survival mode. Wind speeds during the race were at F6 – F7 (22-33 knots), rising to F7 – F8 (28 – 40 knots) for the last part of the race. It was also pretty choppy under the boat as the waves picked up, the percentage of white in the Solent increased noticeably through the day. When we were rounding the final mark the only other boats in sight in the Solent were a handful of the hardy Sigma 38s.

We made it back in with smiles on our faces, not knowing our result but having had an exciting and exhilarating day on the water. We have since discovered that our perseverance paid off, only two of the class completed the course. The winner, who is also the series leader, was only 12 minutes ahead of us, which considering our problems, was not much. We got a well deserved second place.

The whole crew did a fantastic job but in those conditions helm and main sheet do the bulk of the work, so huge thanks to John Cronk (Helm/Skipper) and John Kewley (main), for getting us round quickly and safely. And to the rest – Mark Emerson (Nav/Tactics), Louise Kewley and David Matches (Trimming), Paul Ryan (Pit), David Edwards (Mast), Phil Morgan (Foredeck) – thanks I really enjoyed sailing with you all.

Robina Barker Bennett

Race 5 – Warsash Spring Series – 9th April 2006 – High Tension starts to deliver

What a great weekend we had. The weather was superb, the whole crew knew their positions, Susi Norman (new to the High Tension crew) fitted in easily on mainsheet and we had a good training session on the Saturday. It would have been nice to have had lighter winds for the training, more like the actual race winds; after the series we've had, sailing in less than force 5 is an area where we need more practice!

During the race the whole boat ran smoothly, everyone was sharp (if that goes with smooth) and morale/communications were excellent. This really felt like a crew that has come together over this series and the HWS and can start to deliver results.

On Sunday the whole crew were responsible and ready to go by 0800 and we actually left the dock at 0815, a good omen for the rest of the day. The wind was F3/F4 and quite variable in direction, as might be expected in light winds and a mix of sunshine/clouds. This variability made the whole race very interesting for me, the tactician. For the first two IRC starts the wind was about 315 but then as we were in our start sequence it veered very quickly and unexpectedly to 340. Most of the fleet spotted this (including us, although it happened so quickly I initially was worried we had an instrumentation problem!) and started converging on the committee boat, who decided with 2 mins to go that they didn't like this idea and postponed the start while they relaid the line and changed the whole course (!?).

The wind then started to back slowly so we opted for the pin end and had a reasonable start in clear air a few boat lengths down from the pin. On the beat, those boats that had had a "perfect" start and gone hard left but forgot to pay attention to nav soon found themselves over the lay line as the wind continued to back. (Thankfully we tacked in good time.) This led to the whole fleet bunching up as we approached the windward mark.

The next two legs were reaches and we found ourselves in a pack with Red Arrow, Zelda and Beth chasing the leaders (Jahmali, as usual, and one or two others from the bowsprit start). We never quite got within reach of those leaders but we never felt that far behind either. For the rest of the race we were jockeying for position with Red Arrow and the other two and it felt good to be sailing in their company.

On the next upwind leg we sailed beautifully, hit every wind shift and, having crossed just in front of Zelda at the beginning, managed to build up a lead of several boat lengths over her and Red Arrow. We maintained this lead on the downwind leg and the whole crew were having fun.

Unfortunately on the last long beat the wind strength was getting more variable and Red Arrow and Zelda did manage to catch us up and get ahead at the mark, a lead which they kept over the last 3 short legs to the finish. I was disappointed to have let our lead slip but still, as the crew pointed out, we are not used to dealing tactically with situations where we are the leader of the pack! (Must pay more attention to leverage.)

I also took it as a compliment that both Zelda and Red Arrow kept tacking on top of us in a little duel on the last short beat to the line.

We finished seconds behind Zelda but we subsequently discovered them to have been OCS so we had the last laugh and possibly a moral victory, since those few seconds at the start line were all that separated us at the finish. And it was sweet when Beth, finishing a minute or two behind us hailed us with a "good race" and "see you at the Red Funnel". So we have a reputation to maintain next weekend guys...

Well done to all the crew: Robina Barker Bennett (nav), John Kewley (helm), Susi Norman (mainsheet), Louise K and David Matches (trim), Sally Nicholl (pit), Nick Sharpe (bow), Phil Morgan (mast and crew boss).

Mark Emerson

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