Sigma 38 crewmember airlifted

After accidental gybe causes head injury

Tuesday August 7th 2001, Author: John Greenland, Location: United Kingdom
Early forecasts were suggesting potential wind speeds of over 30 knots for today's racing on day four of Skandia Life Cowes Week. These winds are only now reaching the Solent, however some shifty conditions on the final approach to the finish still produced some impressive broaches.

Sigmadrigal, skippered by Barry Gore, was one of the first Sigma 38s to broach as they tussled for the best lane down the final run to the finish. They were sailing low to avoid gybing out into the tide when the wind shifted, causing an accidental gybe, which resulted in one of the crew sustaining a serious head injury.

The crewmember was airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital, Newport. Staff at the hospital are expecting an early discharge.

So close was the racing in the Sigma 38 class today that the top three boats, Polyphagus, Gauntlet of Tamar, and Gusto III, finished within ten seconds of each other. Barry Choules' Gauntlet of Tamar led the fleet for the beat from Cowes to Yarmouth, only to be passed on the final tack in to the mark by current Sigma 38 class and Black Group leader Polyphagus skippered by Stephen Porter who clawed their way up the fleet from 10th place off the start line.

Gusto III passed ahead of Gauntlet when a large gust caught the Gauntlet crew off-balance sending them in to a Chinese gybe. "It was really impressive, however the speed with which they recovered was just incredible. They were back into second place in no time," commented Craig Dymouk from Polyphagus.

There were far fewer incidents today, mainly because the short and steep Solent waves that were wrecking havoc with the fleet yesterday were only starting to develop when a large part of the fleet had already finished. The majority of broaches were as a result of boats being hit by backing gusts shortly after gybing.

These conditions posed no problems for the three leaders in the Contessa 32 fleet, South Haze, Blanco, and Roulette of Beaulieu, jointly owned by Jan Matthews and John Doree . Blanco were leading the fleet on the final run towards Egypt Point until John Holloway's South Haze, brimming with confidence having survived yesterday's conditions, switched to their number one kite and passed them.

South Haze pulled ahead slightly, only to be reeled in when the three leaders parked up in the light breeze and strong ebbing current just 100 yards from the RYS finish line. South Haze, positioned furthest offshore of the three boats, just managed to pick up a gust of wind to win the race. This puts them into joint first position with last year's winner Blanco at the half way stage in the regatta.

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