Saturdays racing had been in a building WNW breeze that made for a sparkling day and absolutely superb racing. The Solent at it’s very best. Starts were nip and tuck and the Etchells fleet lived up to its billing of providing some of the keenest one-design racing in the Solent. Bailey took race 1, sailed in 6 to 9 knots of breeze (but with a big wind shut down on the last run) relatively comfortably, Razmilovic/Brian Hammersley/Stuart Flynn won race 2 and, in the best breeze of the day, 12 to 14 knots and bright sunshine, Laurence Mead/Oscar Mead and Andrew Yates took race 3, leading from start to finish.
Also showing well was Andrew Cooper who just held 4th at the end of Day 1 with a 3rd and a 5th, ahead of Robert Elliot who had a 4th and a 5th to count. The fleet convened for the Rum and Coke party at Cowes Yacht Haven after racing, and another session of banter was held in brilliant summer sunshine, after a truly great days racing.
Sunday dawned windless but by 1130 hours a 7 knot Easterly was filling the Solent and the fleet got away smartly after an hours delay. All except for Robert Elliot/Matt Adams and Tornado ace Leigh McMillan who were busy checking upwind numbers and got so far down tide that they were 40 seconds late for the start by the time they got back again. However, as everybody knows, it’s not over till the fat lady sings and by the time the singing was heard, Elliot had sailed from last to first and broken the stranglehold of the top 3 at the same time. Mead made a hash of every leg, going from a great start to 6th. Bailey showed why he is (so far!!) the top Etchell sailor this year by doing the opposite. After a poor start he picked off one after another of the boats ahead of him and got up to a magnificent 2nd. Razmilovic circulated in 3rd and Chris Walmsley, new to the class from the IRC big boat fleet got a very good 4th to put a well deserved score on his card.
Race 5 (of 6 scheduled) was looking critical for Mead and Razmilovic, anything other than a bullet would surely leave either of them with too much to do and Mead responded by winning the race comfortably, sailing tidily to move out from the first mark scrumage. Bailey got another 2nd and the deadlock was in place. After a discard they were on 7 points each but Bailey had a much better discard. Robert Elliot took another podium in 3rd place to pretty much lock up 4th overall. Razmilovic needed something special in the last race, being 3 points off the top 2 with “one to play”.
Race 6 was for the title, wind 5 to 7 knots easterly, tide just turning so not a huge factor, but this is the Solent so there was bound to be some tidal element. Mead and Bailey were both towards the pin with Andrew Cooper between them. Mead was lined up for the pin but in trying to secure it he ended up too low on the starboard layline and had to shoot head to wind to make the pin, Cooper had to avoid him and did the same but Bailey, a boat length up the line sheeted on, blasted over them both and looked to be away. Mead tacked over and took some transoms but was at least headed right in clear air. Razmilovic had started up the line and was hard right. The best breeze was in the middle however and at the top mark it was Razmilovic a boat length ahead of Bailey with Mead back in the hunt and almost overlapped inside Bailey as chutes were hoisted.
However, just as it looked as though it was going to be a fist fight for the title, Bailey landed a sucker punch on his adversaries, gybing away to the left before they could cover him, a move which may have put him in very slightly less adverse tide, and, when the top 3 re-converged it was all over, Bailey had extended away to a comfortable (by Etchells standards!) 3 boat length lead, leaving Razmilovic and Mead to take 2nd and 3rd, positions in the last race, which were reversed in the overall standings. Chris Walmsley bagged another 4th to show that he was learning the boat very fast and that he will be a contender in the future, Elliot continued his good run of form in the last race to comfortably secure 4th overall, with Walmsley just a point ahead of Andrew Cooper in 5th overall.
Great racing, lots of cut and thrust and great PRO work from Jamie Clark and his team from the RCYC. Full results here.
The Solent fleet is back out for the Southern Area’s on 18-19 July.