Close racing at final at the Royal Channel Islands YC Freeport Marine Frostbite Series

The sixth and final race in the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club’s Freeport Marine Frostbite Series was held in St Aubin’s Bay, Jersey, on Sunday 22 January. For the third time in succession the wind gods smiled on the event with a gentle easterly breeze ensuring superb tactical racing in strong sunshine for the 17 boats.

With just a few points separating the top three boats in the series there was all to play for. The sportsboat and IRC cruiser/racer classes were first away at 1000 after an impeccable start that saw most of the ten-strong fleet line-abreast on the line as the starting signal went.

The Benest/Fellowes Ker 11.3 Voodoo Doll led the fleet on the short leg to the East Rock buoy but it was the Pipon/Williams J/92 Jammin’ that went for an immediate shy port-pole spinnaker hoist, planning to get an early lead on the more closely matched boats. This tactic gave them the jump on their counterparts and she rounded the mark not too far behind the Ker and ahead of the pack.

In the sportsboat class, Allen Brown and partners’ Melges 24 The Dog’s ??..! led the Myatt/Treliving Melges 24 The Bees ?..! round the mark, a lead she held to the finish just over two hours later.

The leg to the West Mark, on the far side of St Aubin’s Bay, saw the fleet split evenly between those who suspected an early west-going ebb, going for port pole, whilst others, including arch-contenders Rhys Perkins and partners’ X-332 Xtravaganza and David Jones’ Beneteau 317 Jack Rabbit chose to gybe early to get the benefit of the counter-clockwise tide in the Bay. The southerly option appeared to be the better choice with Voodoo Doll well ahead and Jammin’ easing still further ahead at the mark.

Conditions in the Bay were light and fluky giving Xtravaganza the edge on the beats and enabling her to close rapidly at each windward mark but losing out to the J/92 again on the runs whilst Voodoo Doll continued to increase her lead over her smaller rivals. Close racing was the order of the day with Nigel Guenier’s J/105 Jubilee G, the Ohlsson/Maclachlan J/92S Jaya of Jersey, Bob Milners’ Laser 28 Shasa and the Langlois’ Dehler 39 Cordon Bleu joining in the busy and extremely competitive business of racing over the short legs of an Olympic course in St Aubin’s Bay.

After just under two hours racing, including innumerable spinnaker hoists, Voodoo Doll sailed to line honours in the IRC cruiser/racer class, followed some twenty minutes later by Jammin’ in a very close spinnaker finish with Xtravaganza just thirty seconds astern. Voodoo Doll took the race by over a minute on corrected time, Jammin’ second and Jack Rabbit third, Xtravaganza slipping to fourth by just seven seconds and any dreams of winning the series evaporating.

With all six races run, Jammin’ takes the series with 13 points, relegating Xtravaganza to second place by two points and Voodoo Doll, just one point behind, in third.

In the Sportsboat class, The Dog’s ??..! notched up its fifth win in the series although The Bees ?..! was in contention throughout the race, finishing just over a minute and a half later. The fastest IRC boat proved to be the Ker, however, beating The Dog’s ??..! by nine seconds on corrected time.

The RCH (club) handicap class started five minutes after the IRC classes with Team Micmac’s Farr 727 Micmac setting of at a good pace and Julian Rogers’ Sigma 33 Canders hanging on her tail. Micmac was the only boat in this eight-strong fleet to gybe on the East Rock buoy, for the West Mark, whilst Canders and those behind chose to stay out in the hope of finding a better breeze. This proved to be a doubtful move as boats arriving at the mark from the south met a tidal gate that was difficult to beat, with the light breeze, whilst Micmac, arriving from the north, sailed comfortably round with the tide under her, increasing her lead substantially and, ultimately to finish eight minutes ahead of the next boat to take the race by over twelve minutes on corrected time.

Although this class was sent on a slightly shorter course it, too, had its fair share of spinnaker work with Andy Pitter’s Sigma 33 Warrior and Chris Weeks’ Starlight 30 Cassiopeia mixing it with the leaders on the Olympic legs whilst contending with the IRC fleet sailing on the same legs. A spectacular sight for those ashore!

After a two-hour tussle with her sister ship, Canders pipped Warrior by two minutes to take second place with Cassiopeia finishing fourth.

With five wins out of six races, Micmac takes the series, well clear of second place Canders with 14 points, Cassiopeia 17 and Warrior 18.