The first day of the Red Funnel Easter Challenge took place yesterday on the Solent 7/4/07

The competitors for the first day of the Red Funnel Easter Challenge were reaching for the suncream proving that you don’t need to go to Spain to get a suntan! Unfortunately the glorious sunny conditions meant light airs and very fluky breeze which was testing not only for the competitors but the Race Committee. PRO Jamie Wilkinson chose to send the fleet to the Central Solent to avoid the worst of the tide and to benefit from a consistent wind direction. The fleet of over 70 boats gleaming in the sunshine was a fantastic sight.

During the course of Race 1 the breeze petered away which moved the Race Committee to shorten the course for IRC 2 and 3. As the smaller boats approached their new finish line they became becalmed by the lack of wind and the disturbed air. The larger boats in clear air came charging down the run to be confronted by a melee of boats. It seemed an impossible situation but several of the larger class boats managed to squeeze through much to their advantage. The boats that didn’t, joined the park up.

There was some delay before racing could resume but thankfully the breeze filled in to a steady ten knots allowing for a short windward leeward course with consistent wind direction. Much to the appreciation of the competitors, many of whom viewed the first race as something of a lottery.

Race 1: Benny Kelly’s TP 52 Panthera sailed a smart race in the light conditions winning the class by over 2 minutes from Andy Greenwood’s Farr 45 Fraxious who had a consistent race holding off Jerry Otter’s Werewolf.

Race 2: Benny Kelly had a great day at the office in IRM with Panthera scoring its second bullet. Nick Lutte’s DK 46 Shockwave had a much better second race piping Jerry Otter’s Werewolf by a mere seven seconds on corrected time to claim second place.

IRC SZ and Zero
Race 1: Jochem Visser helming the first ever X 41 in British waters, called Legally Brunette, won the first race. The light air conditions certainly suited yachts at the bottom end of the rating band. In second place was Tim Costello’s Mills 40, Tiamat, which came all the way from Ireland especially for this regatta. Third place was the Swan 45 Crackerjack owned and helmed by Keith Miller.

Race 2: Benny Kelly’s day was capped off with a bullet in IRC to go with the two in IRM beating Tim Costello’s Tiamat into second place by less than a minute. Swan 45 Fever entered by Stuart Miller, had a much better race after being caught in the park up in Race 1, claiming third in class and top Swan 45 for the day.

Race 1: Peter Robson’s Beneteau 40.7 Playing Around had an impressive start to the season by clinching the first race by over 2 minutes from Addiction, another 40.7 owned by Paul Jenkins. In third place were Tim and Sophie Harrington with their brand new one design X-35 Vortex competing in their maiden regatta.

Race 2: Tim and Sophie Harrington were delighted with their first win of the regatta beating Paul Jenkins Addiction into second place by a slender margin. Peter Robson helming Playing Around was third with the above three boats all equal on points at the end of the first day.

Race 1: The evergreen Peter Scholfield helming his HOD 35 Zarafa opened his account at the Red Funnel Easter Challenge with a comfortable win from the Corby 30 Wild Child, with Andrew Allen helming No Naked Flames in third.

Race 2:
Nick Jones helming his new First 34.7 Astarte won a nail biting by a mere 13 seconds on corrected time from Jeremy Troughton’s J 109 Beth. Steve Maine’s J 109 J2EAU was third, a marvellous achievement with a brand new crew for the season, beating the highly fancied J 109 No Naked Flames.

Race 1: Last year’s Easter runner up, the X 99 Electra managed to gain the upper hand against current class champions Elusive, the Elan 333 owned and helmed by Jackie Welch. In third place was Jamie Muir’s SJ320 Scarlet Jester.

Race 2: One of the more unusual designs, not seen in the UK that often, is Myles Perrin’s Capo 30, Santana who won the last race of the day. It is a fine example of IRC at its best as at only 30 feet it is an excellent sea boat and can still win round the cans. Mike Tattersall rounded off a consistent day with a second place helming Electra. Jonathon McGuire’s First 31.7 Aviva made up the podium.

This event is billed as a coaching regatta and this year the RYA have brought along trainee coaches as well to learn the tricks of the trade from the likes of Jim Saltonstall.

Three races are scheduled for today and more light and variable conditions are forecast.