Race crews walked a tactical tightrope in trying to balance the benefits of a moderate south-easterly breeze against a strong and unforgiving tide in the Solent.
Those who got it right were rewarded with a strong showing on the third weekend of the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series, with the strong wind of a week ago giving way to conditions that hinted at the summer to come.
Close racing has become the order of the day in many of the classes, none more so than in IRC4 which has seen a different winner in every race to date.
Bragging rights on Sunday went to James Muir’s SJ320 Scarlet Jester which finished ahead of the quarter-tonner Menace and David Greenhalgh’s well-sailed J92 J’Ronimo.
However, fourth place on the day was sufficient to keep Toby Gorman’s venerable Sigma 33 Stan The Boat on top of the table, albeit by a single point from Menace – in turn a point ahead of Scarlet Jester.
It’s tight at the top of IRC3 as well, with John Barrett’s impressively-consistent First 35 Stiletto leading the class by three points despite not having yet won a race.
That honour went at the weekend to Mike Moxley’s HOD35 Malice, which finished ahead of Stiletto and Aindriu McCormack’s (corr) X99 2XS, which pipped Mike Bridges’ Elaine for the final podium position by just three seconds.
Elaine still holds second place overall ahead of the Bateson family’s Dehler 36 Starspray.
Crew-member Flavia Bateson, who is also one of the spring series organisers, said: ‘It’s really close racing all round, and in our class there was a constant changing of the lead as decisions were made about wind and tide – on the day others got it more right than we did.’
Peter Morton’s JND 35 Salvo has opened up a six-point lead in IRC2, though victory in race three went to Guy Prest’s First 40 Tarka.
Sailing Logic’s Reflex 38 Puma Logic and Jim Macgregor’s Premier Flair are second and third overall in the class.
After a man overboard drama last weekend, James Gair’s Cowes-based Local Letterbox Zero II bounced back on Sunday to win IRC1.
Cornel Riklin’s Jitterbug leads the class overall by a single point from David and Kirsty Apthorp’s J-Dream – both with a single win in the series to their credit – with Local Letterbox now third.
Jitterbug and J-Dream also head the J111 class – their one-design contest being held within IRC.
Although Charles Ivill’s ETB Tyres won the race-within-a-race on Sunday.
There is a tussle at the top of the J109 class, with Paul Griffiths’ Jagerbomb and David Mcleman’s Offbeat separated by only a single point, with Offbeat taking the weekend win to end Jagerbomb’s winning streak.
It’s a similar picture in the J80s, with Patrick Liardet’s Aqua-J derailing Jon Powell’s impressive run aboard Betty with two wins.
Powell still leads overall, though only by a single point.
After nine races in the J70 class, Ian Wilson’s Joyride leads. But absences across the fleet rather mask the true picture.
In the poorly-attended SB20 class, Greg O’Brien’s Crewsaver Racing rules the roost, with eight wins and a second in the nine races to date.