Vice Admiral's Cup
The 2011 Vice Admiral's Cup, hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes, from 13-15 May, offered three great days of racing on a mix of windward-leeward and round the cans courses for Class 0 (45 footers), Quarter Tonners and J/109s. Friday's opening day featured Class 0 and the Quarter Tonners, who raced off the same start line making for a fun atmosphere on the course. At the weekend the J/109s joined the fray, using the event as a warm up for their National Championship later this month.
Friday brought three races in light and shifty winds with lots of fair tide beating and plenty of nip and tuck racing. It was so tight in the Quarter Ton fleet that in the first race of the day 8 boats finished within 45 seconds of each other on corrected time. Louise Morton's Espada was the top performing Quarter Tonner claiming three wins, although a quick glance at the individual race results reveals that each of those wins was very hard fought. Paul Treliving's Odd Job, whose crew included Louise's husband Peter Morton took three second places to put them into second overall behind Espada while Ian Southworth's Whiskers, being helmed by Liz Rushall, put in a solid day with two fifths and a fourth to end up third overall.
In Class 0 there were different winners for each race with Bernard Lambiliotte's Nemo of Cowes winning race 1, the British Keelboat Academy's Kolga winning race two and Stewart Whitehead's Rebel winning race three. Rebel and Nemo of Cowes finished the day in joint overall lead with Kolga in third.
On Saturday the wind was up and the fleet made the most of the more exciting conditions to complete three more races. Steven Tapper's Stalker took victory in the opening J/109 race with Kirsty and David Apthorp's J-Dream and Owain Franks and Jean Lockett's Jynnan Tonnyx chasing them hard around the course. Races two and three for the J/109s were both won by Adam and Helen Wright's Velvet Elvis, which had finished fourth in the opening race, and this put them in the overall lead at the end of the day. Stalker had followed their race one win with a second and third to sit second overall with Jynnan Tonnyx just behind them in third.
In the Quarter Tonners it was the turn of Rick Melander's Alice II to shine as they finished second in race four and won races five and six to move up into second overall. The Espada team lost their way a little in race five where they finished fifth but regained their momentum to finish second behind Alice II in races five and six which in turn extended their overall lead. Odd Job had a less consistent day and a 6, 7, 3 score line pushed them down into third overall.
There was a moment of high drama as J/109 J-Dream reached the leeward mark in the sixth race. Behind her the rest of the J/109s and the Quarter Tonners were all closing the same mark as a group. J-Dream rounded the mark to starboard and there was a moment of panic amongst the Quarter Tonners who knew that their course required them to round to port. The thought of the two fleets, which were mixed together and travelling at the same speed at this point, rounding simultaneously in different directions put the wind up everyone. Fortunately the crew on J-Dream realised she had made a mistake and re-rounded in the correct direction just ahead of the pack and much to the relief of the Quarter Tonners.
In Class 0 Tony Langley and Tom Wilson's Atomic won the fourth and sixth races and came fourth in the fifth which pulled them up into second overall. Rebel had a very consistent day with a 2, 1, 4 score line helping them to maintain their overall lead. Sadly overnight joint leader Nemo of Cowes did not fare so well and slid down to fifth overall after a lackluster day. Jerry Otter's Werewolf moved up into third overall with a third and two seconds on his card.
With the wind cranking from the northeast day three brought plenty of thrills and spills for the final two races of the series. To quote Farr 45 Rebel's tactician Mike Richards: "It was a brilliant weekend and the last race on Sunday was epic!" As Class 0 went into the final moments of the start sequence for race 9 Atomic misjudged the start and ended up broadside onto the start boat - the catamaran Twin Wakes - puncturing her hull and forcing Atomic to retire.
There was another tense moment when Class 0 found themselves going round the Flying Fish mark from one direction at the same time as the Quarter Tonners rounded it from another. Several of the Quarter Tonners, including Alice II and Whiskers, were squeezed out in the melée, but fortunately there were no serious incidents.
Aside from these dramas the fleets enjoyed a spectacular final day to put the icing on what had already been a seriously good cake. In Class 0 Rebel and Werewolf spent the day vying for supremacy. In race seven Werewolf got the upper hand with Rebel finishing second and Atomic third. In race eight the tables were turned and it was Rebel who claimed victory with Rebel second and Kolga third. Overall Rebel claimed the premiere podium position with Werewolf second and Atomic third, despite their forced retirement from the final race.
In the J/109 fleet Velvet Elvis confirmed her supremacy by taking two bullets while Stalker claimed second in both races. Third place in race four went to David Richards' Jumping Jellyfish and in the final race it was Alex Ohlsson's Jai Ho which filled third place. In the overall standings Velvet Elvis won by three points from Stalker with J Dream in third.
The final day for the Quarter Tonners was a stunner as these classic little boats reveled in the windy conditions. Willi McNeil and Mike Pascall's Illegal Immigrant, sporting a new livery for this season, found their form in the stronger breeze and was the most consistent performer of the day with a second and third.
In race seven Alice II won followed by Illegal Immigrant, Graydon Dawson's Diamond, which is sporting a new keel, and Matt Clark and Tony Thackray's Lancelot. But the biggest battle of the race was between the ladies as Louise Morton and Liz Rushall slugged it out round the course. It was a battle royal and on corrected time the boats dead heated giving them equal fifth place. Going into the final race Espada led Alice II by just two points so it was all to play for. With the pressure on Espada was over eager at the start and had to go back and were forced off to the left following Odd Job while the rest of the fleet went right. Fortunately for Espada left turned out to be best and they rounded the first mark in the lead and went onto win the race from Odd Job. Unfortunately Alice II was not having such a lucky day and scored their worst result of the regatta with an eighth. Overall Espada won the regatta with an eight point margin from Alice II, with Odd Job third.
Speaking after racing Nick O'Leary, who was sailing on Alice II said: "It's the best IRC racing I've experienced. I can't believe how close it all is and I'm really looking forward to the Quarter Ton Cup."
The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club would like to thank event sponsors Musto, North Sails and Boat Sails International for their continuing and most generous support of this event.
Full results here