Round 1 of the IOM Winter Scratch Series and as far as wind strength goes, it certainly was "wintery" conditions. With a strong wind warning issued by the BOM, skippers were greeted with top end B Rig to C Rig conditions coming roughly down the dam from the WNW, varying from 10 to 30 knots and swings of around 90 degrees depending on which part of the dam you were on. With pleasant sunny conditions around the 20 degrees C mark, the day was promising some exciting IOM racing at the extreme!
Eleven skippers initially turned up, however when it was obvious that the C Rig was the only choice, those of us without C Rigs wisely chose to sit this one out. "Every cloud..." they say, and with no one rostered as PRO, I put my hand up and organised the fleet, which was now down to 7 boats; one of them sitting it out till after the lunch break, onto the water just before a bullet came through at 40 to 45 knots, smacking the C Rigs flat. The course was; start between 1 and 2, shortish beat to 4 then into 3, crossover down to 2 into 1, 2 laps running down to 0 then beat back to finish between 1 and 2. Good Luck!
Six skippers on the water for Race 1and Ray Joyce had the Britpop fizzing with a comfortable win from last week's Southern Champion Rod Jackman and the Silver Fox Peter Darcy third. Race 2 and Rod continued with his current form to win from Matt Gray sailing a V8 in second and Michael Hickman rounding out the podium. Race 3 and the Silver Fox out whited the fleet to take the win from Sir Rodney and Michael close behind. Race 4 saw another win for Rod with Ray second and Matt third. After the first drop, Rod had a comfortable 4 point lead over Ray Joyce on 8 points and Matt Gray 1 point behind in third place. Race 5 was the last before lunch and Ray Joyce was back at the pointy end with a comfortable win from Matt in second place and Michael in hot pursuit.
Conditions eased slightly over the lunch break, so Lisa Blackwood joined the fleet with the B Rig installed and 32 points on the board in last place. The rest of the fleet still carrying the C Rig. Race 6 line honours went to Michael Hickman with Ray Joyce second and Peter Sylvester getting a handle on the conditions in third place, with Lisa coming DFL, unlike in Race 7 where the average wind speed suited the B Rig better than the C, and she took the gun from Matt Gray and Michael Hickman in second and third spot respectively. Race 8 and nearly a carbon copy in the placing's with Lisa's B Rig proving capable over the C's again and a double, Matt in second place and a double second as well, and Rod back on the podium after a hat trick of fourths.
After the second drop, Rod still had the lead but by only 2 points from Matt on 15 points and Ray 2 points further back in third place overall. Michael Hickman was in fourth place with 18 points, Peter Darcy fifth with 24 points, Peter Sylvester sixth with 28 points and Lisa DFL with 33 points.
Matty Gray cracked the whip in Race 9 and took the gun from Lisa in second spot and Peter Sylvester sailing well and on the podium again in third place. Race 10 and the wind had eased another 5 percent or so and had quite a lot of west in it warranting a change of course. A windward leeward course from a long starting line between the little white W mark close to shore and the bottom 0 (make the pin end attractive), longer beat up to outer mark nine, run back down to W, 2 laps finishing on the final run between 1 and 2. Even though the wind strength had moderated a little, the C Riggers persisted as there was still frequent "blasts" that would send the IOM's dancing so to speak. Despite this the B Rig prevailed over the C Rigs with Lisa taking a comfortable win from Ray Joyce second and Matt Gray third. Race 11 and the Silver Fox grabbed a win only just from Lisa Blackwood who stole 2 positions within 10m of the finish line to finish second within a boat length from Peter Sylvester and Ray Joyce. The leader board had Matt Gray on top with 23 points from Ray Joyce in second on countback to Rod Jackman, both on 27 points, 4 points in arrears.
Race 12 and Lisa notched her fourth win in 6 races with Rod Jackman finishing second and Michael Hickman finishing third. His third and last win for the day for Sir Rodney in Race 13 with Matt recovering from a couple of "droppers" in the previous 2 races, finishing second and Michael in contention in third spot. Rod led the score board with 30 points on countback from Matt in second, a healthy 8 points clear of third place Ray Joyce. Race 14 saw another win for Lisa with Matt claiming the overall lead with a second place and Rod keeping him honest in third place, and 1 point behind in second place overall. Race 15 and the penultimate race for the day saw another win to the sole B Rig of Lisa Blackwood from second place Rod Jackman reclaiming the overall lead, and Michael Hickman fighting for valuable points. The final race of the day was Race 16, giving 3 drops to the skippers. The race was won by one of the Brook's masters Lisa Blackwood, taking a hat trick and 7 wins from 10 starts, with Matt Grey recovering from a droppable sixth in the last to finish in second place and Peter Darcy showing his stalwart competitiveness finishing in third place.
Final results and despite Lisa's domination of the afternoon's races, the winner for the day was in form Rod Jackman with 34 points, on countback with 3 wins from Matt Gray in second place with the one win, and "consolation prize" third place to Lisa Blackwood with 41 points.
Next Sunday is the first Long Distance Series of the new sailing calendar with handicap racing from 11:00 AM and BBQ lunch and a frosty or 2. I'll be bringing the Marblehead and the on-board camera, so let's hope for a bumper turnout and plenty of subjects for the video.
Till then, wet sails.
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