Blustery series

The Vice Admiral's Cup braves autumnal conditions

Sunday October 1st 2006, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
The second Vice Admiral's Cup, hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club off Cowes over the weekend of 30 September and 1 October, has been declared a resounding success by all involved. The event, which this year attracted 33 boats, is all about going back to basics and having fun so racing is predominantly level racing over short windward/leeward courses with lots of races plus an informal social bash on Saturday night enabling everyone to get together.

This year three classes participated. Class One, which was won by Jerry Otter's Farr 45 Werewolf, comprised production boats in the 44-47 foot size ranges and was made up of ten Farr 45s and two DK46s. The class level raced without handicap and the crews enjoyed some of their closest and most competitive racing of the season. The next class was dedicated to the Beneteau 40.7s, who also elected to level race and used the event as their British National Championship with 11 boats competing. Peter Robson and the Playing Around crew were declared 2006 Beneteau 40.7 British Champions. The final class was for the Quarter Tonners who have seen a fantastic resurgence of interest in the past two seasons. The ten competing Quarter Tonners raced under IRC to allow for the disparities in age/speed and regatta organiser Louise Morton and her Super Q team were delighted to win the class.

It was a predominantly windy regatta and with four races run on the first day and the crews definitely felt they'd had their money's worth by the time they got to the bar for Saturday evening's club supper. The wind blew from the south all weekend and ranged from the mid teens to well over thirty knots making for challenging conditions. Sunday was definitely the windier of the two days and with gusts over 30 knots Race Officer Willie Sanderson wisely decided not to start the Quarter Tonners although over on the other course Bob Milner and his team were able to get a fifth race in for Class One and the Beneteau 40.7s.

In Class One Nick and Annie Haigh in their DK46 Dark & Steamy took the first race and David Franks in Farr 45 Rebel took the third race but it was Jerry Otter's crew aboard Farr 45 Werewolf that got the upper hand overall on day one winning the second and fourth races. With a second in race one and a third in race in race three Werewolf finished the first day with a comfortable nine point lead, although they were aware that once the discard kicked after race five their worst score was a third but Dark & Steamy would drop an 11th.

Rebel won Sunday's fifth and final race from Exabyte Four with the John Merrick's Sailing Trust Farr 45 in third. Behind them the Werewolf team, with Mark Richmond at the helm and Mike Richards calling the shots, had their worst race of the regatta finishing sixth, however, with Dark & Steamy finishing fourth they'd done enough and Werewolf took the overall honours by a two point margin. Dark & Steamy was second overall with Exabyte Four in third and Farr 45 Renaissance, owned by John Bainbridge, fourth.

"I'd just like to thank the Royal Corinthian for what they've done with the Vice Admiral's Cup event. I think bringing it through for the first time last season when the Admiral's Cup failed was a tremendous insight and I think the success we've seen not only last year when we were just two classes, but this year in particular with the 40.7s and the Quarter Tonners plus the great social event last night shows it has real potential for the future. In my own personal opinion level racing has to be the way forward, people want racing where they can see exactly how they are doing on the water." said Werewolf's owner Jerry Otter after racing.

The 40.7 National Championship was incredibly hard fought with four different winners in the five race series. Tarka, owned by Guy Prest; Love Shack, owned by Tim Spalding/Gareth Lloyd-Jones; Playing Around, owned by Peter Robson; and Incognito, owned by Paul McNamara/Tony Lowe; placed first to fourth in race one and this was to be a sign of things to come. With positions changing on virtually every leg and plenty of thrills and spills in the strong winds the crews had to work hard for every place in every race.

Race two went to Incognito with Love Shack second and Playing Around third. The wind had really picked up by that start of race three and this time it was Love Shack's turn to shine with Tarka in second and Playing Around third yet again. In was all change in the fourth race as Playing Around, who'd obviously had enough of third place for one day, got the bit between their teeth and won the race from Chimaera, owned by the Jones/Walker/Johnson consortium, with Peter Newland's Anticipation third. Going into the final day Playing Around was just two points ahead of Love Shack with Tarka 11 points back in third. Despite the very strong winds Playing Around's young crew, almost half of whom are 16 or under, sailed a fabulous final race to take the 2006 Beneteau 40.7 British National Championship by two points from Love Shack with Tarka third and Incognito fourth.

"It's been a fantastic event for us and we've had a really good time," commented Peter Robson. "We've got a very young crew of family and friends on the boat and we're really pleased with how it's gone. For the 40.7s the level racing has worked extremely well. Tactically you sail a very different race when you are level rating, it's far more exciting when you know you have to beat someone over the line rather than just having to be within so many seconds of them!"

In the Quarter Ton class the strong winds ensured plenty of spectator sport as the crews struggled to keep their rigs above their keels. Class stalwart Graydon Dawson borrowed Peter Morton's Espada for this regatta and was delighted to win the first race of the series despite only stepping on the boat for the first time that morning. Louise Morton's Super Q, helmed by Liz Rushall, gave them an excellent run for their money and finished second by just 8 seconds with the legendary Purple Haze, owned by Tony Dodd, in third. Super Q also took second in race two, however, this time it was Purple Haze who won by 18 seconds, with Espada third.

The wind really came up during the third race to around 28 knots which got everyone’s adrenalin pumping. Super Q sailed a stunning race to win by over two minutes, the biggest margin of the series, with Purple Haze second. ASAP, owned by Layton/Crawford/Christie/Churchill, seemed to revel in the tough conditions and came third, their best result of the regatta despite having to sail the last leg without a pole and using sails clearly stamped with the 1989 Quarter Ton Cup mark!

For what was to be the final race of the Quarter Ton series the wind had moderated somewhat. The race became a battle to the death between Paul Treliving aboard Odd Job and Super Q with the two boats neck and neck round the course. As they crossed the line the stop watches were out but it wasn't until they were back ashore that it was confirm that Odd Job had won the battle by just one second. With winds regularly gusting over 30 knots it was not possible for the Quarter Tonners to race on Sunday and so Louise Morton and her Super Q team took the overall honours by just four points from Tony Dodd's Purple Haze with Graydon Dawson in Espada third.

After the prize giving a delighted organiser Louise Morton commented: "We sailed with six this weekend which really helped in the heavy airs and we also had a couple of secret weapons in the shape of Mark Rushall on tactics/trim and Kelvin Rawlings in the pit. We've spent a lot more time racing and learning to tune the boat this season and it's really starting to pay off. I'm delighted we were able to include the Quarter Tonners in the Vice Admiral's Cup as their approach fits the VAC's ethos of competitive but fun racing perfectly. It was lovely to be sailing against Purple Haze and Odd Job who always provide us with such great competition and I'm thrilled that Graydon and his crew made it down from Sunderland to race on Espada. It was also really nice to welcome Robin Russell and his crew who were making their first appearance in the Quarter Ton fleet aboard the Rob Humphrey's designed Full Circle."

Full results: class one - class three - Quarter Tonners

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