Razmilovic the class act

A report from the Solent Etchells fleet's Bedrock Trophy

Tuesday September 8th 2009, Author: Laurence Mead, Location: United Kingdom
Gary Player is credited with the saying “The harder I work the luckier I get” and, while some of the saying was true at this weekend's Etchells Solent racing for the Bedrock Trophy, it was only the first part. With five bullets to count at the end of racing, Ante Razmilovic needed absolutely no luck, his hard work over the season giving him a commanding position at the head of the fleet. In the absence of Graham and Stephen Baileys Arbitrator, which has been the form boat to date this season, Razmilovic, Stuart Flynn and Andrew Simpson were nearly unbeatable. They started better than the fleet, picked the shifts better and, although they were rarely out of sight ahead, they always managed to lead when it mattered, hearing the winning gun all but once over the two days.

Day 1 was sailed in a northwest breeze of 8 to12 knots that was quite shifty and with the sun breaking through there was always a chance the sea breeze would have an influence. The pin end was favoured in Race 1 and Razmilovic set up just above Laurence Mead, who was late in his time on distance run to the pin, which allowed Razmilovic to roll him and lead. Further up the line David Franks, Robert Elliot and Andrew Cooper had all started nicely but, having given up the line bias to Razmilovic, none could threaten him. Mead slowly got back to 2nd having tacked just after the start and ducked the fleet for clear air and with a lap remaining closed down the leader strongly. Despite Mead getting within 2 boat lengths of the leader there was no catching him.

Race 2 was shortened to one lap of the windward-leeward course after a wind shift (the second blast of a less than convincing sea breeze) 30 seconds before the start made the start line and the course very lopsided. Mead won this after crossing the fleet on port on the gun. Race officer Willie Sanderson and his team from the Island Sailing Club then played a manful game of 'chase the breeze' for an hour before getting race 3 off in a re-established north westerly. With the breeze having flitted left and right over the previous hour, a big split emerged on the first beat with Razmilovic going hard left looking for another burst of the westerly, and Mead and Andrew Cooper hanging onto the increasingly lifted port tack hoping for a shift back to allow them to get across from the right hand corner. In Stuart Walker parlance it was a persistent shift however, so the shift back never came and Mead and Cooper were buried. David Franks, sailing with Graham Sunderland and Andrew Yates joined Razmilovic at the head of the fleet from the left. Robert Elloit was third from the middle of the beat, before falling back as the race progressed, allowing Mead into 3rd at the finish line.

Day 2 dawned and the fleet need to close down the leader fast or see the trophy slip away. With a light westerly in place, the tide against the fleet on the first beat and some boat end bias the right hand side of the beat always looked good. Rob Goddard led the fleet that way and had the lead. Sailing high and fast he was in control. Mead and Razmilovic were close, Franks was in the mix and Elliot wasn’t far behind. The small fleet were enjoying classic Etchells racing, great one design sailing where the fleet is close and the tactical and sail trim decisions coming thick and fast. A slightly stronger south westerly flicked in and out and the balance was between putting the bow into the tide and hoping for a better breeze from the left, or tacking back under the Bramble bank to get out of the tide. Goddard chose the latter option and led round the top, Mead second and Razmilovic third. Finally the fleet were engaged in close quarters combat with the overall leader and things stayed that way until Mead passed Goddard half way up the second beat with some close leebow tacks. Razmilovic was still in the mix however and was in no mood to let his domination slip. He showed great tactical confidence to take a very well timed step out into the tide at the very top of the second beat, pick up a nice puff from the increasingly prominent southerly and roll into the lead. That was how it stayed and the winners name was starting to emerge very clearly

Race 5 was the shiftiest of the weekend, 6 to 9 knots of southwesterly that couldn’t establish itself completely. Mead won the start at the pin and with an individual recall Andrew Cooper headed back. It looked like Razmilovic might have been over as well but he set off up the beat after Mead, both quickly on port. Also showing well and further left were David Franks and Andrew Cooper. By the top mark these four boats were fighting for the lead but once again Razmilovic / Simpson and Flynn were just a bit sharper all round and by the end they were clear winners. With a 1st and three second places on his scorecard Mead sailed the last leg waiting to see if Razmilovic had been over as an OCS for him would have left some room for a last race battle but it was not to be. The winners gun for Ante Razmilovic gave him the 2009 Bedrock Trophy without needing to sail the last race.

However, with the National Championships only a month away he chose to do so to continue his work up to that event, and with a demoralized fleet behind him he won the start at the pin end and just sailed away to record his only “easy win” in what was a totally commanding weekend. Mead finished 2nd again with Andrew Cooper taking 3rd in the last race and the same position overall. Razmilovic capped a very good two weeks having also won the Irish Etchells Championships the weekend before in Howth, the scene of next years Etchells Worlds Championships. The Solent fleet is out again in 2 weeks for the Red Funnel one design weekend.

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