Tom Bombadil takes the lead

After a light opening day to the Coutts Quarter Ton World Championship in Cowes

Tuesday June 17th 2008, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
The 2008 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup got off to a fantastic start today with the 25 competitors enjoying three lovely moderate airs races in the central Solent.

The day dawned sunny but windless and Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Race Officer Bob Milner posted a two hour postponement. By 13.00 the wind had built to 7-9 knots from 140° and racing was underway. The wind held pretty steady for the first and second races but on the first run of race 3 a very light westerly breeze suddenly crashed in from the western Solent. With insufficient time left to move the weather mark for the second beat the Race Committee wisely decided to shorten course at the end of the first lap, a decision the sailors were more than happy with.

With Quarter Tonners from all eras, including several built under the original RORC rule as well as boats from both iterations of the IOR Quarter Ton rule competing racing is run under IRC. Each of today's races was incredibly close both in terms of the on the water finishing positions and corrected times.

It was Chris Frost and Kevin George's Tom Bombadil, a 1982 Doug Peterson design, that won the day taking two firsts and a fourth. Helmsman Kevin, a man of few quotable words, summed it up perfectly when he said, "We had a nice day out on our little yacht!"

Louise Morton and her all girl team sailing the 1980 Bruce Farr designed Espada, winner of the 2007 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup, are determined to prevent the boys getting it all their own way and with a 6, 2, 3 score they currently lie second overall giving the lads plenty to worry about. Espada crew member and Australian Olympian Nicky Bethwaite is thrilled to be back in the class: "A Quarter Tonner was probably the first offshore boat I ever set foot on in the mid-70s in Sydney. They're great boats. It's all within our strength capability, they're light and responsive. The start line is pretty fast and furious and people aren't giving much quarter so it's full on racing."

Lying third overall is David Tydeman and his crew in the 1978 Jubert Nivelt design Snoopy. Their day got off to a good start with a fourth in race one, but a ninth in race two left them looking momentarily off the pace. Fortunately they regained their equilibrium and went on to take a confident win in race three - not bad for a crew who had only raced the boat for a total of three hours before this morning.

On equal points with Tydeman but in fourth on count- back is the ASAP syndicate of Christie/Layton/ Crawford/Churchill whose 3, 6, 5 score for the day keeps them well in contention. This young team are stalwart supporters of the revived Quarter Ton Class and always put in an excellent showing.

After breaking their rig during stepping earlier in the week everyone was thrilled to see Quarter Ton Class Chairman and 2007 Quarter Ton Cup winner Peter 'Morty' Morton and his crew out on the water in their new boat Anchor Challenge. Although a sister ship to his 2007 winner Espada the new boat couldn't be more different. She's spent the last 22 years in a shed and unlike Espada, which was completely refurbished before racing, this time Peter is determined to prove that you can have fun without spending a fortune. They've done no work on the boat at all and are only using spare parts and equipment they already own or can beg, borrow or steal from other members of the fleet. As a result they're sailing with three different sail numbers, Catch's spare rig and more duct tape and emergency bits of string than you'd have thought possible. They've also brought out a secret weapon not seen in the Quarter Ton fleet since the 1980s - a blooper. For those of you too young to know what a blooper is think small asymmetric sail set alongside the symmetrical spinnaker. Setting and trimming a blooper is something of a black art and the boys were to be found doing a little practise on the dock this morning. Fortunately that practise paid off and they made good use of the sail on today's downwind legs ending the day in 12th place overall.



The diversity of the fleet means that there are dozens of different battles going on across the course in each race. One of the most hotly contested battles is between fleet newcomers John Spottiswood sailing the MG26 Favors and Adrian Bishop from Plymouth sailing his GK24 Samurai, and Coutts Quarter Ton Cup regular John Griffiths from Wales in his Robber Mk3e Pindari. These three boats may be battling for last place overall but that doesn't mean they are resting on their laurels and the competition between them today has been intense. After three races just three points separate them and Samurai leads the group with Favors second and Pindari third.

Pimms poisoning and an unexpected 4am disturbance in the camp site are among John Spottiswood's brilliant excuses for their performance today, although having the same rating as Catch, one of the fastest boats in the fleet, isn't helping, particularly as they're one of only two boats with an inboard diesel engine! Despite all this John and his crew are having a great time. "We had a superb battle with the French team in Farrniente in the final race which was fun. We're having a good laugh. We're not that competitive, the crew's not sailed together before and our new bow man is trying to learn the job as we shout it at him! There are some very good sailors out there - even Morty in his boat held together with sticky tape and plastic bags - so we're actually very happy."

The forecast looks good for tomorrow and racing is scheduled to start at 10.30am with three further races planned. The regatta runs until Wednesday 18 June with a total of nine races scheduled. Four races constitute a series and if seven or more races are sailed one discard will be allowed.

Top Ten Overall Standings

1. GBR7278 - Tom Bombadil - Chris Frost & Kevin George - 6 points
2. GBR50 - Espada - Louise Morton - 11 points
3. GBR902R - Snoopy - David Tydeman - 14 points
4. GBR9999 - ASAP - Christie/Layton/Crawford/Churchill - 14 points
5. GBR502 - Catch - Darren Marston - 18 points
6. GBR7070 - Purple Haze - Tony Dodd - 20 points
7. GBR7055 - Runaway Bus - Paul Kelsey - 21 points
8. GBR7775 - Bullet - Howard Sellars & Mike Till - 23 points
9. GBR6498 - Diamond - Graydon Dawson - 32 points
10. GBR7616 - Jackflash - Peter Crabb - 34.5 points

More pics on the following pages....

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