Anchor Challenge into the lead
Day two of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup, hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes, brought some of the most challenging conditions the Solent can deliver - and as any Solent sailor will tell you, that's saying something. With a rapidly shifting and gusting wind from the northeast quarter fluctuating in strength from single figures up towards 20 knots, plus a strong spring tide which changed direction in the middle of racing the 35 competing boats had their work cut out.
"The cream of the tacticians certainly rose to the top today!" Quarter Ton Class Secretary and skipper of Espada Louise Morton commented wryly after sailing, "I can't quite believe that we have 35 boats competing, although it feels like a hundred when you have to cross behind them all on port, which is what we had to do today."
PRO Bob Milner and his team were on a mission and had forewarned the competitors of their intention to run four races today to catch up the schedule following the abandonment of yesterday's attempted third race. Good to their word they laid on three windward leeward races in the Hill Head area of the central Solent followed by a final round the cans race taking the competitors back to finish off Cowes.
With six races completed it's been snakes and ladders on the leader board and with the discard still to kick in (it comes into play after seven races) there's still plenty more climbing and sliding to come on tomorrow's final day. Peter Morton sailing the 1976 Farr designed Anchor Challenge with bowman Jason Carrington, pitman Kelvin Rawlings, trimmer John Newnham and tactician Stuart Childerley has jumped into a 1.5 point lead thanks to an outstanding day with a 1, 3.5, 1, 1 scoreline.
Lying in second place on 17 points having added 3, 1, 3, 2 to their score is Darren Marston and Olly Ophaus's 1990 Gonzalez design Cote with tactician Dave Lenz, trimmer Rob Dyer and pitman Chris Cooper (Darren helms and Olly does the bow). Although they had an excellent day afloat the boys joined the emergency boat repair club tonight as they affected repairs to the anchor points on their pushpits which were starting to give way (we're not sure if this is because they are hiking harder than everyone else or just that they've eaten more pies!).
Currently in third place on 34 points, but looking forward to the completion of race seven and the instigation of the discard,as they are counting a 16th place thanks to a Z flag penalty, is John Greenwood and his crew of tactician David Howlett, Andy McClelland, Brett Aarons and Dan Gottz sailing Rob Gray's 1990 Vrolijk design Aquila. Alongside the Z-flag their other scores today were 2, 2, 2, 11 which moved them nicely up from last night's sixth overall.
Louise Morton and her all girl crew of Josie Gibson, Vicky Lenz, Charlotte Lawrence, Collette Blair and Nicky McGregor had a very consistent day and have moved up from fifth into fourth on 47 points. They got the day off to a fair start with a ninth in race three but stumbled in race four where they could only manage joint 20th, largely thanks to that bad start Louise mentioned in our opening paragraph, before recovering a little to finish sixth and eighth to close the day.
Day oe leader Whiskers is another boat that can't wait for the discard to kick in after they were OCS and also blew up a jib track in the third race. forcing them to withdraw and get the toolbox on deck once again They subsequently went on to score 6, 5, 5 so while they have currently dropped down into sixth place overall on 58 points if they can do well tomorrow and drop that DNF/36 they are still in with a good chance of making the podium.
For Howard Sellars and Mike Till aboard Bullet, a 1978 Fauroux design, it was a day of mixed fortunes. Having gone into the day lying second they now find themselves in fifth, seven and a half points ahead of Whiskers. Tactician Henry Bagnall summed things up perfectly saying: "It just wasn't our day, we just couldn't seem to find a clear lane and when ever we wanted to go somewhere we found someone else had got there just before us. It was definitely one of the toughest Solent days I've seen."
As always the action has been fleet wide and perhaps the most spectacular action of all came from Flashheart, the 1978 Dubois design Starflash owned by Mike Webb and Tom Bailey. A bunch of dinghy and big boat sailors they are the first to admit that they are on a steep learning curve with the Quarter Tonner (although as the son of George and nephew of Jim Webb, both legendary Quarter Ton sailors and builders, Quarter Ton sailing is in Mike's blood). Today the boys just couldn't quite seem to remember the old adage about keeping the aluminium above the plastic and their pirouetting and horizontal side slides kept the photo boats busy on a regular basis. Below is their best effort of the day, which won them a bottle of Mount Gay Rum at tonight's prize giving.
Another young competitor with Quarter Tonners in his blood is Ireland's George Kenefick, son of the infamous Neil Kenefick of Manzanita fame, who with co-owner George Kingston and crew Nathan Kirwan, Donagh Good and Dian Twomey is sailing the 1989 Faroux design Tiger (formerly ASAP). The boys got their regatta off to a slightly wobbly start yesterday and were lying in 14th overnight. But today this enthusiastic young crew found their form and thanks to a 4, 5, 14, 6 score they were not only the fourth best performers of the day but have also moved up into seventh overall. This young crew are always up for some craic as can be seen from their media information form which tells us nothing about their sailing skills but does advise us that pitman Denis Good is the current 'Best Fishmonger On The Irish South Coast'.
This evening the sailors have been enjoying the traditional Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Gala Dinner. Always a highlight of the event this year's after dinner speaker was the New Zealand sailing guru Roy Dickson. Winner of the One Ton Cup, the Quarter Ton Cup, championships in multiple classes and even two Round The Isle of Wight Races as well as a participant in numerous America's Cups, Roy regaled his audience with some incredible tales of how he came to take part in that winning Quarter Ton Cup - a complete accident he assures us - and of the regatta itself. He also praised the Quarter Ton Association for its outstanding work in reviving the class and thanked his team members for giving him the chance to sail in a Quarter Tonner once again. He did point out that he was breaking three of his personal rules in being here: A) That you should never go back. B) That you should never sail on a boat whose length in feet is less than your age - and at 78 years he acknowledges he is more than 60% out on this one. And finally C) That he never makes speeches. His audience were delighted that he had agreed to break all three of these rules to join them on the water and entertain them this evening and gave him a rousing reception.
The regatta concludes tomorrow and with good winds forecast and plenty more races to come (the NOR allows for up to 12 races) we can expect a nail biting finish.
Full results here