News Desk
Harken May Regatta 2016
The weather gods smiled on the Royal Southern Yacht Club's opening Summer Series event, with the Harken May Regatta happily coinciding with Caribbean conditions; bringing bright sunshine and a respectable sailing wind, which attracted over 70 competing boats.
The racing had extra spice as Saturday formed the first of a six-part programme constituting the IRC Solent Region Championship 2016, while the whole regatta was part of selection trials for the RYA Commodores' Cup.
The weekend began with delayed starts thanks to an initially light and variable Solent breeze which could not compete with a robust Spring tide. Thankfully the wind soon settled down to a reliable 15 knots which allowed a full programme of races.
On the Black Line, IRC1 saw three winners from three starts, with Alice (Simon Henning), La Reponse (Andrew McIrvine) and Cobra (Michael Blair) sharing the honours.
IRC2, meanwhile, demonstrated you don't always have win it to be in it as Phil Elford's Bengal Magic led the class by virtue of three second places ahead of race winners Xcitable and Jiraffe, the latter's two bullets offset by a seventh place.
Annie Kelly's Blackjack II took a firm grip on IRC3 with three straight wins, followed home in each race by Richard Sparrow's Only Magic.
Polly (Ben Meakins) emerged as the early leader in IRC4, two wins helping to secure a single point advantage over Crackajax (Richard and Ursula Hollis).
Over on White Line the ever-competitive J70 class saw Allan Higgs' ESF Energy take two wins and the class lead ahead of Patrick Liardet's Cosmic.
Hamish Wilson's Mischief took a clean sweep of first places in the XODs on Saturday.
Sunday proved to be a classic late Spring day with - vitally - a steady and stable breeze that allowed race officers to complete a full sailing programme. As per the race instructions this triggered a single race discard - a relief for a number of competing racers.
One to see an abrupt reversal of fortune was Michael Blair's Cobra, which was able to ditch a 13th from Race 1. A win and a succession of podiums saw the Mills 40 take Class 1 by three points from fellow Cowes-based yacht La Reponse with Alice coming third overall.
Also benefitting from the discard was Michael Lewis' Jester, which took the Mixed Sportsboat class with five bullets to count after dropping an atypical eighth place.
In Class 2 Bengal Magic threw-off her runner-up tag with three straight bullets for a comfortable overall victory ahead of Jiraffe and Xcitable, who were tied on points with the J-boat getting the nod thanks to Saturday's two wins.
Class 3 was dominated by Blackjack II which added a further three wins on Sunday to complete a clean sweep.  'It was a great weekend for us - we got the boat going well and we didn't make any mistakes,' said Blackjack's Andy Howe.
'It was exactly our conditions and everyone performed. As for the weather it could have been a different country, and the windward-leeward courses we were given were ideal.'
ESF Energy also carried on as they finished on Saturday, posting another first and two seconds to take the J70 class after seeing off a determined challenge from Cosmic.
'It is always competitive racing in the J/70s and we had a really great weekend,' said ESF skipper Higgs. 'Jalapeno were coming on very strong and the guys on Cosmic kept us honest all through the weekend.'
The ESF team are gearing up for the J70 Europeans followed by the Worlds in San Francisco, but calendar commitments permitting will be back in the Summer Series later in the year.
In Class 4 Polly continued her strong weekend with another two wins and a second to finish comfortably ahead of Olly Bewes and George Beevor's Magic and Pete Rouse's Voodoo, Crackajax taking a day off.
A burgeoning Cruiser Class saw victory for the Six-metre Erica, which was on her first racing weekend.
'It was our first time out and a great work-up opportunity to see how the boat works,' said mainsheet man and tactician Charlie Hatfield.
'The Southern was very accommodating to have us in the fleet and it was a great opportunity for us to work the boat up for other regattas through the summer.'
Mischief, meanwhile, added a first and a second - trading places with Andy Hamlett's Satu - to take the XOD class.
The next Royal Southern Yacht Club Summer Series event is the June Regatta over the weekend of June 18 and 19, sponsored by North Sails and Aston Martin with the Saturday evening party sponsored by Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
The overall Summer Series is also sponsored by BTM Inc, which this year will present a Champion of Champions Trophy in addition to its usual prize of flights and hotel accommodation for two on the island during Barbados Week in January 2017.

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Our Commodore Karen Henderson-Williams was recently interviewed by Sasha Twining on BBC Radio Solent's H20 slot.
Karen was asked about her childhood and how she got into sailing with her parents, how she progressed from dinghies into keel boats and about her role in helping to develop youth sailing at the Club. She explained her current role as well as her stewardship of the Royal Southern as only the second lady Commodore in the Club's 179 year history. Karen also discussed her aims and objectives for the Club going forward. It's a great listen, and we hope you enjoy it.

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Royal Southern Yacht Club is a trading name of Royal Southern Yacht Club Ltd Registered in England Reg: 05372495