Wind and Waves for SB20s in Seaview
A fleet of 35 SB3’s arrived in Seaview on the Isle of Wight over the weekend of 6th/7th June for the second leg of the 2009 Solent Grand Prix series sponsored by Wight Vodka.
For most it was a fairly long haul down the Solent from Hamble on the Friday evening or the Saturday morning, either by rib or under sail, the trip being made harder by 20 knots on the nose. The 2 Race Ahead teams from South Africa took the opportunity for over 3 hours of two boat tuning and didn’t arrive until 10.30pm but most got there earlier and were happy to be tucked up in the hospitable Seaview YC bar for the evening.
Saturday dawned with 15 to 20 knots from the East and a decent swell which made rigging up on the moorings fairly uncomfortable, but with the exception of a couple of late arrivals from Hamble the fleet set off for the 4 races scheduled for the day. Race 1 got underway after the customary general recall and with the wind building the fleet set about the 2 lap windward leeward course, with the swell there was a premium on keeping the boats driving upwind before the fleet got the opportunity to get some proper surfing in downwind in some of the best conditions of the season so far. Craig Burton’s Gill Race Team took the bullet after being chased hard all the way by Sarah Allen on Sailboats spares with Jerry Hill reunited with the other 2 of the original 3 sad old blokes coming in third.
Race 2 and the breeze had moderated slightly as Mark Rushall and his crew stepped it up a gear and showed solid upwind pace to lead into the windward mark, hotly pursued by Geoff Carveth in Cre8tivity with Gill Race Team and Dave Hudson and crew on City of Cape Town not too far behind. A fairly sizeable overstand on the second windward mark layline by the chasing pack gave Rushall and Carveth a bit of space for the final run, with Carveth looking to pace around the outside of Rushall, however Rushall managed to hold him off as well as a late surge from Burlton to secure the win.
Race 3 and it was Gill race team back to the front again after some rapid downwind sailing on the first lap, Andy Oddie and the team on In Your Pocket showed some solid pace up the second beat and with Rushall still on the charge these 3 boats rounded the final windward mark within a few lengths of each other. Burlton and crew managed to hold on down the run, although Rushall closed to almost make things difficult on the last mark, shortly followed by Andy Oddie and crew in third.
The wind increased for the final race of the day, and with the change in tidal flow the waves also became a little more fierce, making the downwind legs even more spectacular, in fact a little too spectacular for Craig and Co, with a demonstration spin out at the end of the first run. Rushall paid little notice to all the entertainment to sail off for his second win of the day. Taariq Jacobs, over from South Africa with his young crew under Dave Hudson’s Race Ahead programme, demonstrated his asymmetric experience from 29ers to send it downwind at a blistering pace to secure second place, with Gill race team recovering to take 3rd.
Overnight it was Rushall leading by one point from Burlton with current World Champion Carveth not too far behind in 3rd, and current National Champion Jerry Hill in 4th. A BBQ was put on by the Seaview YC and with the return of Dr C to the bar with the indomitable Lovers aiming to down a drink or two it almost looked like Stuart “The Beard” would have competition for the evening. However Dr C soon got sidelined swapping tales with Dr. Tommo and the natural order of things was returned.
After a pretty ferocious night for the boats on the moorings with one boat coming a cropper on the nearby shore, the wind eased and swung to a tricky offshore direction but still with enough pressure to get racing.
Following a postponement to allow the 30 degree wind shifts to settle down to some relatively more acceptable 15 degree shifts the fleet got underway. With such significant changes in direction and sizeable changes in pressure across the course the key was in staying in the middle of the course and working the shifts as hard as possible. Coming to the top of the first beat it was the 3 boats of Burlton, Carveth and Chris Jennings in Selden Masts who seemed to have managed this best; into the final approach to the mark the lead changed a few times before Gill Race team managed to just get under Carveth and shoot the mark, allowing them to gain some separation down the run. Despite the shifts in direction and pressure Burlton managed to hold off the advances of Carveth, Jennings and Hudson to take the win. With Rushall finishing seventh this meant that Gill Race team took the event with a race to spare and managed to head off early for the trip back to Hamble.
The final race saw a few boats becoming victims of the black flag, with Jerry Hill and his sad old blokes leading for most of the race until local Seaview legends the Simonds brothers on Doolalli stormed through on the final run to take the gun with Andy Oddie, having showed pace all weekend, following Hill home in third.
Thanks must go to the Race Officer and his team who ran a great series of races with decent courses, square lines and quick turnarounds, in spectacular conditions on the Saturday and more trying conditions on the Sunday. Thanks also to Seaview YC, the staff and all the boatmen who made it another great year for the SB3’s in Seaview.
All eyes now turn to the west country and the Torquay Grand prix on the 20th – 22nd June and the build up to the National Championships in Falmouth the following week, entries for which are already topping 50 boats and with all number of past and present National, European and World champions set to race, it promises to be a proper dust up not to mention the promise of another legendary end of regatta knees up on the Saturday night.
Adam Heeley, Gill Race Team