The day's closest racing was undoubtedly in the Quarter Ton class, where just nine seconds separated four of the first five boats on corrected time at the end of an intense four-hour race. "It was a great day's sailing, with an awesome course," said Chris Preston, sailing in the class for the first time since 1975 as tactician on Rob Gray's Aguila. "The quality of sailing in the class is amazing, yet it's very fair and friendly."
Getting the right side of a wind shift on the first beat enabled Aguila to take the lead, which she held for one-third of the race, until Louise Morton's Espada got ahead on an upwind leg off Gosport. Aguila split with Olly Ophaus's Cote, a newcomer to the fleet this year, on the final upwind leg, with Cote staying close to the island shore while Gray's boat played the middle ground, which didn't pay off quite as well.
At the finish Ophaus was 31 seconds ahead, leaving the two boats tied on corrected time. David Thomas's Sergeant Pepper and Howard Sellars' Bullet were fourth and fifth, just six and nine seconds behind on corrected time respectively.
On the rocks
In White Group most of the early starts again had a handful of boats that hit Grantham Rocks. As with yesterday's racing the different classes became mixed together while beating west along the island shore against the tide, with good sailors from later starts catching up with the back of the fleets ahead.
Three Darings were noticeably well placed at the start - yesterday winners Jeremy Preston and Scott Macleod's Defender, Andrew Norton's Decoy and Alistair Speare-Coles's Medina 2. Simon King's Finesse also looked well placed at the inshore end of the start, but Philip Bown's Dasher, starting a dozen lengths to windward came out ahead of Finesse after the first few tacks.
At the finish Defender led Decoy by a margin of more than one minute, so it's easy to imagine the disappointment on board when she didn't get a gun - she had been OCS.
Undaunted by his OCS in the J/80 class yesterday, Ian Atkins' Here at Last hit the line at speed, starting near the inner limit and a full length ahead of the next boat, Simon Ling's Team Spitfire. Some 50-60 metres further offshore, Robert Walters' Wild Wally looked to be slightly better placed, and when they crossed tacks a couple of minutes later, Walters tacked under the lee bow of Atkins.
When they next crossed Atkins was clear ahead, with both boats extending their lead on the fleet as they short-tacked to the west. However, Simon Ling's Team Spitfire got ahead to finish with a comfortable three-minute margin, while Thor Askeland's Elle S'Appelle was just four seconds behind Here at Last.
A winning strategy
Next away was the Dragon class in a very closely fought start. Len Jones's Rumours was a length clear ahead of the fleet at the gun, but had not accelerated to full speed, so lost this advantage almost immediately, while Richard Cullen's Supremacy was closest to the shore and doing well.
Julia Bailey sailing Aimee, however, opted for a different strategy, starting furthest offshore and tacking offshore early. This approach paid off - when she tacked back onto starboard she cleared ahead of the entire fleet, with Rumours having to duck one third of a length to clear her stern.
Very tight close tacking followed, with Bailey's slim lead under threat and much place changing. The class saw the tightest podium finish of the day in White Group, with Eric Williams's Ecstatic just four seconds behind Aimee at the finish.
Yesterday one third of the Sonar fleet was OCS, which led to a rather more timid approach from some crews today, allowing Simon Barter's Bertie to lead away from the start, after hitting the line at speed in a perfectly timed manoeuvre. Like Julia Bailey he stayed a little out from the shore, which again paid off and Bertie's lead extended a length or two on each tack in the initial stages of the race. As with other classes, there were many close port/starboard situations as the boats short-tacked past the Green and towards Gurnard, with the occasional dull thud indicating a minor collision.
At the end of the 12-mile race, Bertie finished first, 62 seconds ahead of Simon Clark's Jenny, with both boats holding a very comfortable margin on the third-placed Shoreham Youth Team.
The 20 boats in this distinctive Redwing class, originally dating from 1938 saw unquestionably the tightest short tacking action of the day after the start. Almost a minute before the start Matt Alexander and John Raymond's Harlequin began reaching down the line towards the shore, but in the final moments they were over the line and had to return, dipping briefly back before skilfully working their way back up through the fleet.
With the tide a little higher than for earlier starts, Grantham Rocks did not pose a problem for these relatively shallow draught boats - their home port of Bembridge dries at low water. Thomas Montagu Douglas Scott's Siskin started closest inshore, dipping the stern of George Greenwood's Rosetta after tacking out, giving Greenwood a slim early lead. Nicholas Robertson and David McCue's Musicus also looked well-placed at the gun, with Michael and Rupert MacInnes's Avocet almost neck and neck alongside.
A few minutes later Robin Ebsworth's Quintessence, H Tidbury's Enigma and Nick Holland and Sophie-Jo Walker's Kestrel all crossed ahead on starboard. However, when they next crossed tacks Greenwood had regained the lead.
As the race progressed, Alexander and Raymond continued to gain places, finishing 18 seconds ahead of Rosetta, with Musicus crossing the line third. However, a penalty applied to Harlequin's time saw her slip from first to third in the final standings.
More photos from Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com