Quarter point lead

Andi Robertson reports from the Old Pulteney 1720 European Championships in Largs

Thursday September 2nd 2004, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
Andrew and Jane McLelland's Splash Test Dummies lead by the smallest possible margin after a hotly contested first day of racing at the Old Pulteney 1720 European Championships on the Clyde off Largs.

For the visitors from England and Ireland it was a perfect introduction to racing on the estuary off Largs, with modest but settled Southerly breezes and sunshine, with the magnificent hills of Bute and the more Arran, forming a spectacular backdrop.

The Cowes-based Splash Test Dummies built the foundations of their quarter point lead overnight by winning the first race and then consolidating with a consistent fifth and sixth place in the 28 boat fleet.

With owner McLelland steering and Mike Broughton calling the tactics, Splash Test Dummies bailed out from a below average start, tacking early onto port, and was one of the first to benefit from the progressive wind bend and more solid breeze up the right side of the beat. This gave them the lead at the first mark and they managed to extend to win comfortably around the windward-leeward course.

In the second race Mike Budd sailing Animal/Gul - last year's European Championship winning boat - made a clean break from the start and took the honours, but got into too much trouble in the third race to make an overall impression on the overall top 5.

Former Irish champions Ulster's Shaun Douglas on Irish Spars, with Gareth Flanegan steering, made the early gains on the third race, when the breeze had veered slightly to make for a more even course, and took the third winning gun, with the first three boats finishing within seconds of each other.

For Splash Test Dummies consistency was the day's watchword. They managed to come back from 10th at the first mark after being pinned too far to the left on the first beat, taking three boats on the first downwind leg by staying to the mainland shore where there was more breeze, gaining another two places on the next beat.

McLeland, former J/24 UK National Champion and Irish Champion, who finished third in the 1720 UK Nationals earlier this summer, had to fight hard in the third race to score another counting result. 12th on the first round they took seven places on the second beat, losing fifth place to the Greenhalgh clan on G&T on the final round.

"To be honest there are no favourites in this fleet it is so tight. That was our feeling last night before we started and it is incredibly close on the water today with just no room for mistakes. Nobody was getting the upper hand all the time," commented McLelland. "Everybody had a chance and all the races were close. The good thing is that is just close one design racing. It is not about an arms race here, who is spending the most money, and nobody knows who is going to win before the race starts. Still, it is nice to be leading after the first day. Now it is up to us to keep it clean and stay out of trouble tomorrow."

Hard on their heels is the class's World Council Chairman Conor Clarke on Wow, while they have a two points margin over G&T which scored a 5,4,5 for the day.

Results:

Race 1:
1 Splash Test Dummies (A & J McLelland, Cowes)
2 Wow (C Clarke, Royal Irish YC)
3 The Big L (C Frize, Clyde)
4 Buddy White (C Frize Jr, Clyde)
5 G & T (D Greenhalgh)

Race 2:
1 Gul (M Budd, Leigh & Lowton),
2 Twister (A Smith/R Larke, Royal Southern YC),
3 Boats.com (I Atkins, Hillhead SC),
4 G&T,
5 Splash Test Dummies

Race 3:
1 Irish Spars (S Douglas, Royal Ulster YC),
2 Team Polecat (Woods/Carveth, Leigh & Lowton)
3 King Quick (G & R Scott, Tarbert)
4 Wow
5 G & T.

Overall results after three races:

1 Splash Test Dummies 11.75pts
2 Wow 12pts
3 G&T 14pts
4 The Big L 21pts
5 Rageur (C Thomson/M Links, Australia) 25pts

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