Two bullets for Purple Haze
Today's top performers were the evergreen crew of Tony Dodd's 1977 David Thomas-designed Purple Haze. Sadly Tony couldn't compete this week, but the boat is here with usual suspects Derek Moreland and Jim Webb heading up the team. They are joined by three young bloods in the shape of James Moreland, Garrod Hewlett, who has taken Tony's place on the helm and Tim Paul on tactics. After a slow start yesterday the boys really found their form today winning races four and five, taking eighth in race six and second in race seven to charge up the leader board from 6th to 2nd.
Another team on a roll today were the French crew of Olivier Hays aboard Farrniente. This enthusiastic team, who are ardent supporters of the Quarter Ton Class, had a mediocre time in yesterday's light airs and lay 22nd in the rankings overnight. Today was a different story though and as the wind built they stormed up the fleet, improving with every extra knot of wind to score 16, 8, 4, 5 and move all the way up to 11th overall.
With winds gradually building through the day from 7 to around 17 knots the racing got progressively more exciting to watch. The fleet was incredibly closely bunched at all mark roundings and there was plenty of good old fashioned IOR rocking and rolling on the windier runs. Quarter Ton Class Chairman Peter Morton tells us that there are two types of Quarter Ton sailors - those who have completed the classic rolling Chinese gybe and flattened the boat and those who will shortly complete the classic rolling Chinese gybe and flatten the boat.
Today two of our newer Quarter Ton fleet members executed this extremely advanced technical manoeuvre with aplomb and gave the fleet and watching spectators much entertainment in the process. Graham and Veronica Hetherington and their crew in Great Bear IV went for the classic double role, gybe and laydown, but Peter Crabb and his crew in Jackflash decided that they could go one better. They threw the waiting audience off the scent initially with a minor dummy broach, then appeared to recover momentarily before going all out with a superb triple role, high speed spin out and boom in the air laydown with spreaders and masthead underwater and two crew hopping on the keel to right the boat. Although they soon had the boat back under control the speed of the broach and the force of water against the rig had popped a spreader and with the outboard now firmly knitted up with various bits of kit and rope below they happily accepted a tow from the waiting safety boat until they were able to extract the outboard and complete the trip home under their own steam.
We also had a humdinger of a husband and wife battle in the middle of the fleet today as Peter and Louise Morton went head to head in their sister ship 1980 Farr designs Anchor Challenge and Espada. Yesterday Louise and her all girl crew in the superbly restored and race prepared Espada had the upper hand, but today Peter and the boys were determined to fight back in their trusty, if somewhat fragile and completely un-restored or race prepared Anchor Challenge. The first three races of the day saw the boats neck and neck on corrected time all the way round the race course.
Ultimately the boys got the better of all three battles, but only by 9, 5 and 11 seconds respectively. Never ones to take defeat lying down the girls grunted up and Espada romped home to a lovely third place in race seven while Anchor Challenge languished down in 14th place, some 2 minutes 33 seconds behind on corrected time.
Back on the dock John Newnham, bowman on Anchor Challenge, was to be found sweeping the deck of debris from the assorted early 80's vintage sails which had gradually fallen apart as the day wore on. Determined to stick with his "if we don't already have it in the spares box or can't borrow it from someone else in the fleet we're not using it" campaign, Morty has been searching the fleet for some spare headsails that might fit and praying for a windy final day as they are now down to just the number three!
With seven races complete the discard comes into play and in the overall standings Chris Frost and Kevin George's 1982 Doug Peterson-designed Tom Bombadill continues to lead with 14.5 points. They opened their day with a joint third place, shared on corrected time with Darren Marston's Catch, followed by a second and third before scoring 12th in race seven, their worst result of the regatta so far.
After their stunning two win day Purple Haze has jumped from sixth to second place counting 21 points. ASAP, a 1989 Fauroux design owned by the Christie, Layton, Crawford, Churchill Syndicate, came within a gnat's whisker of winning race four, loosing out to Purple Haze by just one second, then took a fifth and seventh before turning the tables and winning race seven from Purple Haze by 18 seconds. They move up from fourth to third overall just one point behind Purple Haze.
Howard Sellars and Mike Till in the 1978 Fauroux-design Bullet also seemed to find better form in today's stronger winds winning race six and also adding 9, 3 and 8 to their score to move up to fourth overall with 32 points. David Tydeman and his team in the Joubert Nivert-designed Snoopy also moved up a place overall and lie fifth on 32.5 points. Sadly Louise Morton's third in race seven wasn't sufficient to hold onto second place and the girls have now slipped down into sixth overall with 35 points.
This evening the crews are enjoying the traditional Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Gala Dinner where legendary sailor and Olympic team coach David "Sid" Howlett is the after dinner speaker. Equally traditionally Ben Wood is leading the after dinner heckling, ably assisted by Jim Webb.
Two races remain to be sailed in tomorrow's final day and with stronger winds forecast everyone is looking forward to a stunning finish to what has already been a quite outstanding regatta.
Full results here