Fog, rain and the prospect of no wind greeted competitors in the final day of
the Royal Southern Academy Frostbite Series. Despite the conditions, the fleet
were able to locate the race course that the committee had managed to set in the
building 6 - 8 knots of breeze.
Racing for both J/70 and J/80 classes got away promptly. With the prospect of
the spring series starting the following day, the J/70 starts were keen, X-Ray
being displayed on several occasions. The J/80's pushed the starts slightly less
- perhaps they were having issues locating the line in the now dense fog!
With a good, square windward- leeward course set, the left hand side seemed to
pay up the beat. Mostly due to tidal advantage and the prevailing header coming
into the Hampshire shore. That said however, boats that erred on the side of
caution and stayed towards the centre didn't seem to lose too much; benefiting
mostly from more reliable pressure and clearer sightlines to the windward mark
in the fog. On the downwind legs, picking your gusts and staying with them in
clear air paid the best dividends.
Racing in the J/70 class was close, although Alan Higgs' ESF Energy was
consistently on the pace in the right part of the course. All 70's finished
within a few minutes of the leader; demonstrating clearly the fun that is to be
had in short course, one design sportsboat racing. John Powell's Betty and
Terence O'Neill's Aqua J raced closely all day, with Aqua J eventually coming
out on top and taking the series win in the J/80 class. Doug Struth's DSP took
the J/70 series win.
As usual in Academy racing events, the courses were kept short, ensuring close
action and lots of manoeuvres. With a target race time of 25 minutes, PRO Mike
Foster did an excellent job with all four of the day's races in the 24 - 28
minute range. Turnarounds between races were fast keeping everyone engaged and
just as importantly, ensuring the fleet was ashore in good time for the rugby.
Prize giving back at the Royal Southern, presided over by the Commodore, Karen
Henderson- Williams was well attended with prizes awarded to the top two boats
in both fleets. Doyle Sails, the Academy sponsor kindly extended their
sponsorship to this event; the loft's Nick Bonner was on hand to award the
prizes and extol the virtues of youth keelboat sailing.
Once again, The Royal Southern Academy Winter and Frostbite series' have proven
that there is a demand for out of season sportsboat racing, and that the racing
can still be close, fun and well attended.
Jack Neale - Chairman, Royal Southern Yacht Club Academy.