Aguila and Espada tied at the top
Day 1 of the 2011 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup dawned bright and clear, but with an almost total absence of the most necessary ingredient for a regatta - wind. With the glassy conditions meaning that there was very little chance of racing getting away at the scheduled 10.30 start time, Principal Race Officer Robert Lamb sensibly held the fleet ashore while he and his race team headed off onto the Solent in search of some sort of usable pressure. Having persevered in their quest for some several hours, Lamb and his team were eventually rewarded for their patience at around 14.00, when a pleasant 10 knot southwesterly breeze materialised, enabling the eager fleet to finally put to sea for what turned out to be two excellent and closely fought races.
Despite the wide range of sizes and designs making up the 30 boat fleet, the racing could hardly have been closer both on the water and on handicap, with every startline and mark rounding fiercely contested throughout the day. In Race 1, Louise Morton's Espada, (helmed at this event by Colette Blair standing in for the injured Morton) turned in a line honours performance in the first race, which was good enough to also give Espada a corrected time race win by just under a minute. Second in that race was last year's Quarter Ton Cup winner Cote owned by Darren Marston & Ollie Ophaus, who edged Sweden's Rickard Melander on Alice II into third place by just 16 seconds on corrected time. Fourth was Rob Gray's Aguila, ahead of Ireland's Eamonn Rohan on Anchor Challenge.
Race 2 saw a compelling three-way battle for line honours between Aguila, Alice II and George Kenefick's Irish entry Tiger. Aguila eventually prevailed to take the gun and a narrow eight second corrected time victory over Tiger in second and Alice II in third. Espada rounded out a solid day with a fourth place ahead of Ian Southworth's Whiskers.
With two races completed at the end of day 1, only seven points separate the top six teams. Rob Gray's Aquila holds the overall lead with a total five points, tied with Espada in second. Rounding out the top three just one point adrift of Espada is Alice II, which holds a four point advantage over George Kenefick's fourth placed Tiger. Fifth at the end of day 1 is Cote.
As the fleet returned to the dock this evening, the smiles on the faces of the sailors was a clear indication of a fun day of Quarter Tonner racing. Having travelled from Russia to compete in Cowes this week with his French Quarter Tonner Bullit, Dmitry Borodin said that he had thoroughly enjoyed his first experience of racing in England. "To have the chance to sail here in Cowes is a real pleasure. There are so many fantastic boats and just being here in a town with this sort of sailing heritage is fantastic. On the water I think we have much to learn but we are enjoying our first Quarter Ton Cup and we will take the message back home with us. Hopefully in years to come there will be more Russian boats coming to sail in this regatta."
Colette Blair from Espada declared herself happy with her team's first day performance: "We are fortunate that Espada performs well in all conditions, but today we seemed to be going well and we are pleased with the way we sailed." Blair also commented that Espada's only non-female crew member, mainsheet trimmer Stuart Childerley, had coped well with being the only man on-board. "It's great to sail with Stuart although I think he found the general conversation onboard today rather different to what he is used to..."
Anchor Challenge's Eamonn Rohan, a first timer at the Quarter Ton Cup, had also clearly enjoyed his day on the water, but was quick to pay tribute to the quality of the fleet. "This is the toughest Quarter Ton racing that we have done since we bought the boat. There are so many really fast boats and competitive crews sailing here this week, it's been a bit of an eye opener. We are having fun though and looking forward to tomorrow's racing."
Despite lying in last place overall Richard Johnson & Sarah Lyle on Hannah J were still amongst the most enthusiastic owners checking the results in the clubhouse after racing. "We had a great day out on the water and we are really pleased not to have finished last in the second race! Can you tell this is our first time? What we are really hoping for is an overall wooden spoon prize!" commented Sarah.
Full results here