Kites explode in big boat classes

More close encounters of the Cowes kind in Classes 0, 1 and 2

Wednesday August 8th 2001, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom

Is there a conspiracy among sailmakers to underbuild their spinnakers? You would have thought so, judging by the number of sails that blew apart on Not-So-Big-Tuesday.

The race committee held the fleet off Hill Head waiting for the predicted squall to hit before they sent the big boats off around the eastern Solent. Yes, the breeze did build but only to 26 knots. Only? Well, it was really quite sedate racing compared with the epic struggle of previous day.

But for one reason or another, spinnakers were blowing up left, right and centre. Stephen Bailey's Arbitrator suffered two exploding spinnakers within 20 minutes of each other. The Sydney 40 decided to retire before she did the same to her one remaining light-air masthead kite.

While the race for the Bathsheba Trophy between the Class 0 and 1 boats did not produce the countless broaches of Monday's 30-knot-plus thrash round the buoys, it was still incident packed. Already overstanding her layline, Douglas Flynn's Beneteau 47.7 Kirribilli went to tack and duck David Cummaford's Corby 40 Converting Machine 4. But when the main failed to go out for the bear away, Kirribilli looked set for an 8-knot T-Bone into the side of the Corby boat. A swift luff back onto starboard tack saw the worst of the impact avoided, but bizarrely, the headsail on Converting Machine exploded, the stress of the situation seemingly too much for it.

The Farr 40s having completed their three-day windward/leeward regatta, joined in with the Class 1 fun. Jim Richardson's American team which had dominated the home fleet in the weekend's one-design racing, went on to score a second under handicap for Barking Mad, a former Farr 40 world champion. Almost three minutes ahead, however, was Richard Loftus' Swan 65 Desperado.

Just 15 seconds behind Barking Mad on corrected time was I-Site, David Brown's new Ker 11.3m, with Charles Dunstone's Nokia in fourth.

Adam Gosling took the Mills 50 Yes! T&G to first in Class 0, a minute ahead of yesterday's winner, the Swan 68 Spirit of Jethou. After looking like the poor relation compared with Kit Hobday's Bear of Britain, it was Loco's chance to shine in the Farr 52s as she sailed to third on corrected time ahead of Serano, the IC45 which today was helmed by Ben Ainslie.

Adrian Stead told madforsailing he had nothing to hide, following accusations voiced to madforsailing yesterday by other IC45 sailors that Serano was unfairly rated. The IC45 skipper commented: "They can come and look at the certificate and see for themselves if they have a problem."

Stead's GBR Challenge comrades on the IMS 50 chartered by United Airlines have had a sedate week so far, more concerned with preserving life and limb of their corporate guests than testing their competitive instincts. Their dramatic moment came just as they were pulling into Ancasta Marina for the evening. Richard Sydenham was manoeuvring the boat into its pontoon and threw the engine into reverse to slow her forward momentum when the propeller fell off. For a brief, rabbit-in-headlights moment, the crew of nearby Tonnerre de Breskens saw impending disaster and ran to the back of their boat.

Then, a moment of Jonathan Edwards inspiration came to Andy Beadsworth who, in the words of United Airlines' navigator Peter Bentley, "leapt further than he has ever leapt in his life" to land on the pontoon, throw a rope round a mooring cleat and arrest the seemingly inevitable collision that was about to befall the hapless yacht.

Meanwhile, back on the Solent, Nick Lykiardopolo continued his winning ways with his Swan 46 Aera. The Brits did not even get a look in on the podium positions, with the Greek-registered Aera finishing two and a half minutes ahead of two French boats, IMX-40 Fastwave 3 and X-442 Ster Wenn I.

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