Following the electoral polls and ousting of “congestion charge Ken” from City Hall, 45 crews got down to real business for the first SB3 class sanctioned event of 2008. The event hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes commenced the build up to the inaugural SB3 World Championships this coming September and marked the end of a long winter (particularly for those who didn’t make it to the Primo cup in Monaco).
The forecast for the long weekend promised mild temperatures and mostly light airs and challenging racing amongst the 45 entered teams in the brisk Solent tides. A small majority of crews migrated to the Isle of Wight for the event and partaking in the shore-side festivities whilst the balance “commuted” from Hamble.
Saturday promised the best conditions of the weekend and delivered with 8-12 knots from the South East.
Race one got under way following a general recall into an Ebb tide. Shaun Beaver (Tim Fells) led early starting by the pin and lead the pack into the top mark with the majority of the fleet racking up on the port lay. The run saw the fleet spread across the course with Shaun Beaver continuing to lead until overhauled by Car Jacked (Craig Burlton) at the leeward mark and finishing in that order. Cheekey Monkey (Ian Sullivan) started the event well with a third ahead of Team VW Touareg/PWC (Jono Shelley).
After a long delay while the race committee moved the course a number of times race two saw another general recall and the black flag in use catching out eight teams. When racing resumed City of Cape Town (David Hudson) port tacked the fleet and lead by about ten lengths only two minutes into the race! With the pressure up a little the run was fast and furious, class stalwarts Jerry Hill in 3 Sad Old Blokes and Mini Summerhayes in Team MacLaren stepped up the pace in these conditions finishing in the top three closely following Car Jacked across the line.
Race three was delayed again with a number of teams electing to call it a day as the afternoon drew on. Set under way for a one lap race that lasted less than half an hour Baloo (John Outhwaite) stayed ahead of the other northern Jono in Team VW Touareg, just avoiding being Car Jacked and holding onto second.
After eight hours on the water teams retired to both shores for some well earned recovery time and an early night for some.
Day two resembled the first although somewhat lighter and shifts more pronounced. Race four included a significant right hander the first lap which saw those looking to avoid the ebb tide on the left down the order. The shift to the South persisting down the first run saw David Hudson again in the lead at the leeward mark but suffering as the breeze shifted through 50 degrees on the second beat to fall back to third. Darling Associates (Chris Darling) showed brilliant upwind speed on the second beat, passing the leading group in it’s entirety to lead before being passed by Car Jacked on the run crossing the line second. Chris did however take a penalty and scored 20th despite the fine performance.
Face five again saw John Outhwaite and David Hudson in the mix at the head of the fleet beating Tim Fells and Chris Darling while Craig in Car Jacked took the win passing the team on Baloo at the second leeward mark.
Race six was lead by Craig in Car Jacked at the first weather mark having taken sterns off the start on a heavily port tacked biased first beat. As a result of the bias traffic was very heavy at the weather mark with the tide now flooding and pushing many over the lay. Tim Fells pulled through to first on the run only to be dealt an off hand as their spinnaker caught around the top batten at the leeward mark letting Car Jacked through again. Selden Masts (Chris Jennings) had been alongside the two leaders but chose the right hand mark at the gate and suffered significantly as the running fleet created a vacuum allowing Mini and Team MacLaren to steal third.
Monday morning dawned wet with little promise of breeze, however the rainfall rapidly moved off and the Northerly breeze settled in to allow the final two races to proceed off Hill Head in very shifty conditions. Race seven saw a very tight finish with John Outhwaite taking his second win of the weekend by a mere second from David Hudson and Colin Simonds third ahead of Sarah Allan steering Palava this weekend (joined by European champion helm and partner Geoff for the final day).
Race eight was notable for a horrible incident shortly after the start when Selden Masts was rolled onto its side by a cruising boat spearing through the fleet. Somehow 40 SB3s heading upwind off a start line was not enough of an obstacle to take avoiding action and dip behind. Chris’s sponsor’s product remained intact but the hull and keel are apparently in somewhat of a state.
Laser Performance (Ian Mills) led around the first two marks on another heavily port biased course with Eau No (Mark Stokes) and Baloo in close company early. Thereafter Rumbleflurg (Dave Cummins) hit a massive right hand shift to pull ahead briefly before Craig took over in Car Jacked and sped away down the run. Dave Cummins held onto second with Ian Mills finishing third ahead of Mark Stokes.
Overall Car Jacked (Craig, Adam and AB) won from Shaun Beaver (Tim and Sue Fells, Sandy and Jules) with City of Cape Town (David and Roger Hudson) in third. The next month sees plenty of class activity with a Royal southern event in Hamble ahead of the second class GP in Sunderland and the UK Nationals in Largs Bay.