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J/88 sailing on Hamble and Solent(Hamble, Great Britain)- The Hamble Winter Series might have only taken a week's mid-season break, but the weather had become noticeably colder since the last race a fortnight ago. Nonetheless, a veritable army of competitors and volunteers ventured out onto icy decks for the fifth weekend of racing in the series.  Here is Louay Habib's report:

"Out in the Solent a chilly Northwesterly breeze was funneling down Southampton Water and spreading out into the race area and the start line between Hill Head and East Knoll. The breeze was patchy and came complete with oscillating shifts to keep competitors on their toes and the results ever-changing until the finish.

IRC 1 saw Christopher Daniel's J/122 JUNO take the top spot.  As a result, Simon Bamford’s J/111 KESTREL is sitting in fifth overall for the series.

IRC2 has seen some close racing between the top boats. Simon Perry's J/109 JIRAFFE was third – leaving her only two points behind the leader overall.  Sitting in 5th and 6th place are two other J/109s- Chris Burleigh’s JYBE TALKIN and Rob Cotterill’s MOJO RISIN, respectively.

J/97 sailing Hamble and SolentRobin Stevenson’s J/92S UPSTART had one of their worst races of the series, scoring a 5th and having to discard that result to remain in the overall lead.  Nevertheless, it is unlikely they will succumb to the depths of despair since they have a handsome lead of 5.5 points over the second place boat going into the final weekend!  Lying in fourth place is David Greenhalgh’s J/92 J’RONIMO and in fifth overall is Annie & Andy Howe’s J/97 GBR 97X- BLACKJACK II!

Gavin Howe's TIGRIS scored their first bullet of the series so far in the nine-boat J/88 class, finishing comfortably ahead of second place- overall leaders Kirsty and David Apthorp's J-DREAM. Third was Paul Ward's EAT SLEEP J REPEAT.  As a result, the Apthorp’s lead may look unassailable, just four points clear of Ward’s team, but anything goes in this highly competitive group!  Howe’s team is only one point back in third!  The series could easily come down to the wire in the series finale!

It's all to play for with three races left to sail in the series. Day Sponsor was long-established winter series supporters One Sails, and Ian Brown handed out prizes to competitors in the HRSC clubhouse, where competitors warmed up with hot food and drink.

Well done to all competitors and to the army of volunteers who braved the icy conditions to deliver some excellent racing!"   Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth/ pwpictures.com and Hamo Thornycroft
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