Although not quite as far as last weekend’s trip to Chichester, eight Redwings raced to Portsmouth via the Forts on Saturday and nine went as far as No Mans Land Fort on Sunday for the Charles Nicholson Trophy – a beautiful model of a Redwing that belongs to the RNC & RAYC. Although the breeze dropped as the fleet neared the finish Committee boat for the first race on Saturday close to the Haslar shore, there was enough to ensure no one had problems crossing the main shipping channel particularly on the race home to Bembridge. The first race started with a short beat to St Helens Fort and then a longer one via No Man Land Fort to Spitbank Fort. Bruce Huber in No 14 Redstart II and Colin Samuelson in No 11 Toucan were close throughout; Tom Scott in No 36 Siskin was third and Chris Andreae with John Cleave crewing in No 33 Sophie, who were racing for the first time in many years a very creditable fourth. The return race started with a reach to Spitbank Fort and then a long run to St Helens Fort leaving No Mans Land Fort to starboard. Having been last in the first race, Philip Bown in No 21 Redwing proved to be a force to be reckoned with downwind and finished nearly four minutes ahead of Bruce in Redstart II; third was Tom in Siskin who just managed to cross the line a second ahead of Chris in Sophie. Having been second as they approached No Mans Land, Nick & Suzie Wakefield in No 35 Bizarre found themselves at the back of the fleet after only narrowly missing being swept into the fort.
The five One-Designs meanwhile had two local races; the first of just under an hour and the second of just over an hour. Both used Drum as the first windward mark and Britten as the second one. Having established a lead on the first beat, Anna Row in No 8 never looked as though she was going to be caught and finished over a half a minute ahead of Sarah Marshall in No 7 with Mark Grzegorczyk in No 9 well over a minute later in third. Initially the fleet was set a slightly longer course using Tara for the second race, however with the breeze looking as if it was going to drop off, the course ended up as the same as the first one. Rob Mathieson in No 1 managed to get well ahead of the rest of the fleet to come in a couple of minutes in front of Sarah in No 7 who was three minutes ahead of James Row helming No 8.
With the wind direction backing to the West/South West on Sunday, options to include St Helens & No Mans Land Forts in the Redwing course were somewhat limited, however the ROs, Mike Samuelson & Stuart Aiken did their best. After a pretty good start based on Janson and some close tacking to Nainby, the fleet became well spread out as they sought to find the best route to minimise the effect of the tide on the long run to St Helens Channel buoy. First round was Bruce Huber in No 14 Redstart II, followed by Meri Benham in No 1 Paroquet, Nick Wakefield in No 35 Bizarre and Tim Hill helming No 18 Harlequin. Although the next leg to No Mans Land Fort did not quite provide the hoped for beat, it was still quite testing, as was rounding it when they got there. Unfortunately Chris Andrea in Sophie had to retire just after St Helens when her jib halyard parted, however she was quickly taken under tow by the Committee boat, Sea Breeze, which had been close by following a course change. On the next leg, a luffing match between the first two boats, Redstart II & Harlequin, as they closed on Ruthven allowed Paroquet & Bizarre to catch up and although the top places remained unchanged on the beat to the finish at Pepe, things could easily have been different with less than a minute separating the first four boats.
The One-Designs did not venture so far afield and arguably had a better course with three excellent beats, two in from Ruthven. After not the best of starts with Helen Mathieson in No 1 the only one even close to the line when the hooter went, the fleet enjoyed some very close racing and after an hour and a half only one second separated the leading two, Mark Grz in No 9 and Norman Marshall in No 8 as they crossed the finish line at Pepe. Helen Mathieson was third in No 1 thirty seconds later; James Row was fourth and Martin Bonhan was fifth.
Congratulations to Bruce Huber in Redstart II who won the Charles Nicholson Trophy with two firsts and a second.