RSYC Double Handed Regatta

Michael Jones och Richard Hinde-Smith i Joyride vann alla tre racen i helgens doublehanded-regatta på The Solent.

Fabulous summer sailing weather over the two days, combined with great racing, contributed to what the 50 competitors agreed was a fantastic MDL Marinas Double Handed Regatta, organised by the Royal Southampton YC in the central Solent over the past weekend.

Saturday’s racing started with a steady 12 knot NW breeze and the race officers set courses for the 5 classes for what they hoped would be a 2 hour first race. The wind subsequently dropped to 8/10 knots and this made a beat against a strong easterly tide a lengthy and tactical process, until the tide changed.

With no early sea breeze, the second race in the afternoon was intended to be shorter, but a wind shift to the West after the starts made for more reaches and an even shorter one and a quarter hour race for some, but that was appreciated by the crews after what had been a long day on the water.

Forecasters had predicted even less wind for the Sunday, but race officers were met with a fresh northerly wind gusting up to 20 knots before the start. The question was: would it last, or fade to the strength that had been forecast? The race team took a conservative view and opted for courses ranging from 7.5 miles for the smaller boats to 10.5 miles for Class 1 and Multi-hulls. The wind did drop to an average of 10 knots during the racing, but all classes had an average of a two hour race.

Class 1 was dominated by the J109 Joyride, sailed by Michael Jones and North Sails’ Richard Hinde-Smith in their first RSYC Double Handed season together, who won all three races. Likewise, Chris and Hannah Neve from Lymington sailing their First 34.7 No Doubt won every race in Class 2. The J92 Solan Goose came second in all three races in Class 2. The Laser 28’s of Kathy & Rupert Smalley and Andy and Peter Pickett tried to dominate Class 3, but Harry Walsh in his J24 Juliette spoiled their party by sneaking between them to take second place overall. Kathy Smalley in Flying Fish won the regatta – perhaps fittingly for RSYC’s Captain of Racing – with two firsts and a third.

Class 4 was more open with Will Bridge on Fusion III and Andy & Sara Horwood on Asante tying for first place overall. Fusion III won the regatta on countbacks, with Michael Stoner and Rebecca Meigh’s Folkboat Svenja in third place. The Multi-Hull class was won by Simon Forbes in his Dragonfly 800 and crewed by Roger Barber on Saturday and Cathy Foster on Sunday, with two firsts and a second. George Burn, sailing with Rebecca Bernstein in his brand new Corsair F32R Freebird, achieved two seconds and a first, to take second place overall, with Harvey Bowden in his brightly coloured Firebird Orion taking third place overall.

Prizes were given out on Sunday afternoon by Michael Glanville, Manager of MDL Marinas at Ocean Village. He said “We were delighted to sponsor the Regatta and even more delighted that the competitors had such wonderful sailing weather for the whole weekend. It was great to see so many happy faces after racing each day and to know that they had had a good time.”

Victorious Michael Jones from Joyride described the weekend as “fantastic” with really good courses, decent length legs and sensible mark roundings. “The second race on Saturday became a bit one sided with the wind shift, but that suited us well. The J109 is a perfect boat for two handed racing. The Sunday race was again a bit one sided on the first beat, but there were a lot of gybes on the runs, which with the strong tide, made for very tactical racing. Overall, it was a well organised and fantastic weekend.”

As well as being the leading promoter of two handed racing, RSYC is also one of the few clubs that regularly organises racing for MOCRA multi-hulls. They had some great racing over the weekend, even if some found the first race a little long. Harvey Bowden on Orion was so tired that he fell asleep between the races and subsequently was 15 minutes late for the start of the second. Despite that, he still took line honours. George Burn in his first outing on his new Freebird found that he was heading for the wrong way around SE Ryde Middle during the Sunday race and had to tack back against the tide. That little error probably cost him the race – and the regatta victory. David Hyland and Neil Owen are relative new boys to Double Handed racing with their Dragonfly 920 and were thrilled to be first across the start line in the Sunday race, on a port tack.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Double Handed series is that it attracts and welcomes rookie racers, as well as the more experienced. Typical amongst the former are Andy and Sara Horwood, who only took up two handed racing two years ago when they acquired their Maxi 1000 Asante. Andy said “We have now joined the RSYC, mainly because of its really friendly Double Handed series and we have just had a fabulous weekend. Really good racing with lots of tactics involved.” What was their high point of the regatta? “Being first over the start line in the first race” Sara laughed. “We’ve never been in that position before and it opened up a whole new experience for us. We couldn’t just follow the leading boats to the first mark!”

Such is the spirit of the Double Handed Series competitors!