Whale SWSA Evening Series Yacht Racing

The Whale SWSA evening series

The evening series began in 2008 and has grown in popularity such that in 2011 we had a total entry of 25 boats from 7 clubs and up to 18 boats racing on any particular day.

One of our primary objectives has been to facilitate entry to as many boats as possible and noting that many of our members are on tide restricted moorings the races are always scheduled to coincide with the high water stand. This policy also gives a sufficient expanse of deep water that none of our standard courses need to cross the main shipping channel and potential interaction with commercial shipping is therefore minimised. We are proud to say that in the 6 seasons that the series has run, we have experienced no close quarter incidents with commercial shipping and received no complaints from ABP or other water users. Racing at high water also ensures that our courses are largely devoid of current which can be a source of frustration during the light airs often experienced on summer evenings.

We also take pride that the SWSA protest committee has never sat for the evening series; testament to the friendliness, good seamanship and sportsmanship of our competitors.

Our sailing instructions and courses are kept as simple as possible with 8 pre-set courses published on the SWSA website as a set of chartlets. The committee boat simply displays a number board corresponding to the selected course.

Auriole & Patricia Elaine II – Fawley PSSC

Our start line is always set-up adjacent to the buoy Hovercraft 2, just off Netley foreshore, a location roughly equidistant between the extreme ends of Southampton Water.

As with all SWSA keelboat racing the basis for our handicapping is the Byron Cruiser Handicap system. Therefore there are no/minimal costs associated with formal measurement and certification. Entry fees are also maintained relatively low, commensurate with SWSA having no salaried staff, instead being entirely managed by volunteers from the member clubs.

Solace – Southampton SC

Race  scheduling

Whilst determining the evening series race dates and start times, SWSA adhere to the following criteria which are subject to periodic review by the cruiser sub-committee:

1.    Boats at the extreme ends of Southampton Water (e.g. Itchen River) need a minimum of 1 hour   commuting time to get from their slipways, out in the dinghy to the yacht and thence by yacht to the race area;

2.   We always finish the race before sunset (sunset as-defined by the ABP tide tables);

3.   We never start earlier than 6pm on a week day (preferably later if tide and daylight permit);

4.   Preference is given to week days over weekends and to Wednesdays over other weekdays;

5.   We allow for a maximum race duration of 1.5 hours (as-per the sailing instructions);

6.   We never race on Thursdays as this would clash with the Warsash and RSYC evening series;

7.   We allow for a 10 race series with 5 discards;

8.   Where possible, we avoid races on consecutive days with SWSA passage events;

9.   For tidal moorings (e.g. Hythe, Southampton SC, Itchen river) we assume access from 2.5 hours before 1st HW to 2.5 hours after 2nd HW.

Hawkwind (Southampton SC, Arty Miss RAFYC and Zipper, Fawley PSSC

Photos courtesy of Nigel Smith