It doesn't take zillions...

Gilbert and McGrane lead the pointscore in the build-up to the Prince of Wales Cup

Tuesday September 8th 2009, Author: Jon Blackburn, Location: United Kingdom
There is a belief in the sailing world that you need a banker’s salary to compete at the front of the International 14 fleet. Fortunately, that myth has been busted as up amongst the leading boats costing more than a benefit addict’s income are a number of third hand, cheap and very cheerful boats making headlines. Indeed one such boat is leading after two days of racing down here in the south west: Tom Heywood and Ed Clay have shown great consistency in a fleet that professionals come to sail their own boats in to lead after the first three races.

Our gallant sailors enthusiasm was not dampened by the grey and wet morning that greeted the crews in Restronguet. Indeed, the crews fervour in bimbling new gizmo’s for the ships in preparation for tomorrow’s Prince of Wales cup race, the winner takes all National championship for the 14 class, remained at its normal fastidious level.

Typically, the pre-POW race day is a light affair allowing crews the time to polish, primp and perfect there boats for the big day. No chance. Clearly, these Cornish sailors are real men and after the briefest of briefings, the fleet put to sea on the Carrick Roads for a long day on the water.

As ever the class employed a degree of voting with feet in a bid to lengthen the courses form the previous days racing. The general consensus is that 14s are fast and they need big courses, short courses leave little tactical options as tacking and gibing comes at such cost and the races to date have seen significant corner bashing as standard.

Today’s racing was not to disappoint the card-carrying corner huggers amongst you, after a number of false starts the first race got away. Rob Greenhalgh, no stranger to this fleet, took a near perfect pin end start hit the left corner hard in leading into the first mark closely followed by fellow Woofsters Alistair Richardson and Dan Johnson, class hero Rollo Pyper and 200 legend Roger Gilbert in fourth. The run provided little interest to the soggy spectators and it was not until Rob and crew Simon Marks owned, no dominated, the right hand side of the second beat that the race got interesting.

Monsieur Gilbert played left early and closed the gap on Mr G. sniggling past Alistair in his yellow, rich HARD WOOF, racing machine and as they came round the windward mark for the second time this lead pair had stretched out a comfortable cushion on Alistair in third. Messrs Greenhalgh and Gilbert guided there galleons in to an alliterative 1-2 whilst series leaders Tom and Ed worked hard from a nasty first beat to recover to 7th.

Clearly the freshening breeze was to Gilbert and crew Ben McGrane’s liking as they did a Usain Boltesque job on the race leading from start to finish coming in a comfortable leg ahead of Heywood and Clay followed up by Mark Upton-Brown and Phil Kennard who had overtaken Alistair and Dan who capsized at the wing mark.

So, for those of you interested in the form for tomorrow’s championship no one is truly standing out as a dominant force in the 14 fleet right now but anyone of Richardson, Greenhalgh or Gilbert would seem a fair bet if the wind is up and Katie Nurton and Buff Nige are a deadly duo in the light stuff. But, before you all head down to the betting shop, stop and consider Heywood and Clay. They have yet to turn heads with a commanding victory but are doing great things with a more stately boat that certainly does not lack for speed.

Watch this space.

I14 POW Points Week Results (after five races):

1. Roger Gilbert/Ben McGrane
2. Tom Heywood/Ed Clay
3. Andy Partington/Tom Partington
4. Alistair Richardson/Dan Johnson
5. Mark Upton-Brown/Phil Kennard
6. Douglas Pattison/Mark Tait

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