Espada romps home
The 31 boat fleet competing at the 2011 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup were treated to three excellent races sailed in moderate northerly winds on the third and final day of the regatta. The shifty breeze, combined with strongish tides running across the racecourse for most of the day, made for challenging conditions for the tacticians and skippers alike.
The (almost) all-female crew aboard Louise Morton's Espada took an 11 point lead into the final day and, with the tactical assistance of Stuart Childerley, the girls never looked likely to relinquish the stranglehold they established on this regatta from the very first day. A third in the first race today, followed up by a first and a second in the last two races, put their comprehensive overall victory beyond any doubt.
A win in the first race of the day along with second and third places in the subsequent races, elevated the winners of last year's Coutts Quarter Ton Cup, Darren Marston & Olly Ophaus on Cote, into second place overall.
A 4,4,1 performance on the final day saw day 1 regatta leader Rob Gray on Aguila, take the final overall podium place. Rickard Melander's Swedish team on Alice II finished the regatta in fourth place with Eamonn Rohan's Irish crew aboard Anchor Challenge in fifth.
In the strictly amateur only Corinthian Division George Kenefick's Irish entry Tiger confirmed overall victory with a 2,1,2 Corinthian scoreline on the final day, by a margin of 23 points. Impressively Tiger also finished in sixth place in the overall standings. After a putting on a good final day performance, Paul Kelsey on Runaway Bus moved up to take second place in the Corinthian Division, five points ahead of Willy McNeil & Mike Pascall on Illegal Immigrant in third.
A packed and at times slightly raucous prizegiving ceremony was held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club soon after racing concluded. The prize for the youngest crew competing went to 'Panic' owned by Paul & Mark Lees, with a combined age of just 142. Contrastingly, Tony Dodd's crew on Diamond swept the board in the oldest crew category, totting up to 296 years between them. Diamond's George Webb also collected a beautiful wooden walking stick trophy as the regatta's oldest Bowman. Diamond was also the recipient of one further tongue in cheek prize - a small tin of lubricating oil to help silence their spectacularly noisy spinnaker halliard sheave which had deafened the fleet at every leeward gate during the regatta.
The Concourse D'Elegance Marineware Trophy for the smartest boat and crew, as voted for by the Race Committee, was awarded to Dmitri Borodin's Russian entry Bullit - primarily for their stylish matching blue waterproofs.
Having been overheard earlier in the week enthusiastically wondering if there would be a prize for the boat to finish in last place in the regatta, Richard Johnson & Sarah Lyle's on Hannah J were duly awarded a specially purchased Wooden Spoon for their spirit and perseverance over the 9 race series.
The trophy donated by Quarter Ton Class patron Bob Fisher and awarded to the oldest competing boat went to Paul Treliving's Odd Job. Designed by Stephen Jones and built in 1973, Odd Job was originally owned by Jack Knights who ironically sailed her with Bob Fisher himself in the Quarter Ton Cup that year. A new trophy donated by class stalwart Peter Morton for the first boat with her original keel went to Rickard Melander's Alice II and the prize for the first production boat went to Laurent Beaurin's Farr 727 45 South. The Coutts Quarter Ton Trophy, awarded to the boat with the most first places in the regatta, went to Espada.
Despite having owner and skipper Louise Morton sidelined due to a leg injury just prior to the regatta, the Espada crew proved to be slicker in their boat handling and more astute on their tactical calls throughout the event. With a string of five race wins and able to discard a fourth place, it was the Espada crew's sheer consistency that ultimately enabled them to dominate this regatta. Speaking immediately after the prizegiving this afternoon, replacement helmsman Colette Blair, had this to say: "We are very pleased as a team to have won. I don't think it was something we expected. Coming into the regatta I think we were shooting for a top three result, so coming away with a win is a great success."
Despite taking an 11 point lead into the final day Blair confessed to some last day nerves creeping in during today's three races. "We were still nervous going out there this morning and the first race first beat we definitely were showing signs of the jitters. We made a couple of mistakes early on, but once we had got them out of our system for the rest of the day there were no real problems."
Asked about the importance of the contribution of Stuart Childerley - Espada's token male for the regatta - Blair had this to say: "Stuart's experience was something that really helped us, but also having him there really challenged us a lot too. There was no let up with him onboard. We had to be constantly on the ball, working hard all the time. We all felt that we needed to be 100 percent the whole time to keep up with what Stuart demanded of us."