Tense conclusion

The Baileys secure the Etchells Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy

Tuesday May 5th 2009, Author: Laurence Mead, Location: United Kingdom
They were tied when they left the dock for the last race of the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy on Bank Holiday Monday, but in a knock out punch that would have saved the day for Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas on Saturday, Graham Bailey, Stephen Bailey and David Heritage floored Ante Razmilovic/Phil Lawrence and Stuart Flynn with a great start and blistering speed to literally sail away with the trophy.

It could have been very different, the conditions were classic Solent , a westerly breeze of 12 to 16 knots, an ebb tide and a good straight course laid by PRO Jonathan Peel from the RYS. Razmilovic has shown in the past that he is one of the fastest Etchells sailors in the world in a breeze. On this occasion though Bailey stamped his authority on the race, and Razmilovic found himself in a scrap for the podium. In truth the trophy was out of his reach after the first 3 or 4 minutes of the start.

The 'theory' said go left up the first beat and James Howells started on the pin at speed and led the way to the left. Further up the line Razmilovic had Bailey to windward and there were some little right hand shifts that seemed to be allowing Bailey to lift off those to leeward. Also showing at the front after a series of scores just outside the top three was Evelina (Sam Carter and Richard Glen) who started even further up the line and was in good shape. There wasn’t a lot of appetite to tack onto port but eventually Razmilovic tacked and he was just behind Carter. Bailey was already firmly in control, he landed his punch off the start line and was closing in on a knockout thanks for speed and height on the fleet.

Howells made the theory work and, from the left hand corner, he grabbed second at the top mark. Apart from Bailey, the fleet was incredibly close and although the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy was heading to the Bailey/Bailey/Heritage team, the fight for second was intense. Laurence Mead in fourth but only a few feet behind Razmilovic wrapped his spinnaker all over the windward mark and by the time he had taken his penalty the pack had swallowed him up. David Franks and Andrew Cooper flew by and Rob Goddard was showing good downwind speed to roll by as well.

Bailey literally blew the fleet away up the next beat and Mead got back in front of the pack by taking the left hand gate mark, which had been subtly offset by the PRO to try and entice people to it, despite the tidal gain likely to be evident on the right hand mark. The leading pack couldn’t stay with Bailey, who was literally sailing away, but the rest were never more than four boatlengths apart. The next pack, who had been joined by Robert Elliot who came in from the right (having picked the change of tide nicely,) were all busy tacking on each other to secure their positions.

James Howells never let second go however, and despite not sailing on the Saturday (and therefore counting a DNS on his scorecard) he got up to 5th overall.

Evelina took third in the race, Razmilovic fourth (his discard) with Mead fifth (also his discard). On the finish line Robert Elliot, hard on the wind on port, crossed Andrew Cooper who was on starboard and on the layline to the pin end by no more than 18 inches to secure 6th.

The Etchells fleet has had a fabulous three days racing with great courses set by the Royal Yacht Squadron team and is looking forward to the trip north to Holyhead for the Northerns and European Championships over the next three weeks. Thereafter the fleet is back in the Solent for the Red Funnel weekends at the end of May and in early June.

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