There are more glamorous classes, there are more modern classes, and there are undoubtedly more expensive classes, but you would have to go a long way to find a class that offers more spectacularly close racing and bang for your buck than the Quarter Ton Class. This proved true once again on the opening day of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2013 where the pace was fast and furious and four different boats claimed a race victory.
Day break brought hot sun, but not a breath of air and wisely Race Officer Rob Lamb promptly announced a three hour postponement giving the 26 teams time to relax, drink coffee, bimble on their boats and top up their tans. Right on time the breeze filled in and racing got underway at 14.00, as anticipated, in a relatively stable west-south-westerly breeze of 8 to 12 knots.
Louise Morton's Espada drew first blood with an excellent start and first beat to lead the fleet around mark 1. Despite plenty of challengers she sailed a text-book race to win by 51 seconds on corrected time from Willy McNeill and Mike Pascall's Illegal Immigrant with Rickard Melander's Alice II in third. Peter Morton's Bullit, helmed this week by Morty's son-in-law Ashley Curtis as Peter is unable to race due to pressure of work, took fourth, and Ian Southworth's Whiskers fifth.
Race two took three attempts to start with the first being postponed in the closing moments of the sequence due to a wind shift. On the second attempt the fleet misjudged the tide and were recalled so the race officer went to black flag for the third attempt, which kept everyone behind the line. This time it was Rob Gray and his team aboard Blackfun who took an early lead and again successfully defended to the finish. It was a tough battle though with the top nine boats all finishing within a minute of each other on corrected time with Bullit second by just seven seconds, Espada third, Illegal Immigrant fourth and Alice II fifth.
After another recall the black flag came out of its holster once again for race three, but even that wasn't sufficient to hold everyone back and Blackfun, Edward White's Joker, Jan Thirkettle's Olivia Anne VI and Paul Roberts and Jo and Sarah Assael's Bad Toad, all found themselves forced to wait it out on the sidelines as the fleet raced away from them. Now it was Whiskers which rose to the top of the heap with Alice II second. Bullit and Pierre Paris' Pinguin Playboy tied for fourth place on corrected time and Diamund Foley's Anchor Challenge took fifth.
While Quarter Ton racing is always incredibly close the quality of the sailing is truly exceptional and it's rare to see significant contact. Unfortunately a relatively short fair tide first beat in race four meant that the bulk of the fleet arrived at the weather mark together and mayhem ensued. Blackfun led in from the port layline while Phoenix, owned by the Welch, Fulford, Manser & Fleming partnership, came in on starboard with Bullit hard on her heels. Blackfun clearly thought they had room to squeeze in, but sadly they misjudged it and, with nowhere to go, Blackfun sailed full tilt into her transom, breaking the carbon spinnaker pole and gouging a hole in the stem.
Behind them Bullit luffed hard to avoid ramming Phoenix, but unfortunately the force of the impact had caused Blackfun to spin to weather and Bullit was unable to avoid them too, making the second contact of the day. Initially Blackfun did turns, but on realising later that serious damage had occurred they retired from the race.
The bumper cars theme continued at the second mark although fortunately with less serious consequences. Phoenix initially held her lead, but without a spinnaker pole it was tricky to hold off the pack and on the second run they dropped back. The fleet was spread across the course on the final run, but it was Alice II, Espada, Whiskers and Illegal Immigrant that got the best of the leg by sticking to the middle of the course. The four boats rounded within seconds of each other for the final short beat to the finish. On corrected time Alice II claimed victory by seven seconds with Whiskers snatching second from Espada by a single second. Illegal Immigrant and Phoenix crossed the line seven seconds apart, correcting out to a dead heat to share fourth place.
In the overall standings Rickard Melander's Alice II, a 1990 Phil Morrison design, now has a three-point lead over Ian Southworth's Whiskers, a 1979 Joubert Nivelt, and Louise Morton's Espada, designed by Bruce Farr in 1980, which both count 14 points. There is also a tie for fourth place with Ashley Curtis aboard Bullit, a 1979 Faroux design which won the 1979 and 80 Quarter Ton Cups, and Willy McNeil and Mike Pascall's Illegal Immigrant, designed by Ceccarelli in 1991, tied on 18.5 points.
After racing the exhausted but happy crews enjoyed sundowners, a delicious barbeque and a spectacular Solent sunset from the Royal Corinthian's terrace.
Tomorrow's forecast indicates we can expect another sunny morning with little wind until early afternoon when a decent sea breeze if anticipated. Up to four further races may be sailed tomorrow and the regatta continues until Wednesday 17 July. Tomorrow evening the crews will gather for the legendary Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Gala Dinner at which Paul Larsen of Vestas Sailrocket will be the guest speaker.
|1||SWE 7744||Alice II||Rickard Melander||0.906||3||5||2||1||11|
|2||GBR 902R||Whiskers||Ian Southworth||0.899||5||6||1||2||14|
|3||GBR 50R||Espada||Louise Morton||0.905||1||3||7||3||14|
|4||FRA 7891||Bullit||Ashley Curtis||0.905||4||2||3.5||9||18.5|
|5||GBR 501||Illegal Immigrant||Willy McNeill & Mike Pascall||0.904||2||4||8||4.5||18.5|
|6||GBR 8700R||Phoenix||Welch, Fulford, Manser & Fleming||0.907||11||7||6||4.5||28.5|
|7||FRA 12130||Pinguin Playboy||Pierre Paris||0.895||7||10||3.5||11||31.5|
|8||GBR 7259Y||Magnum Evolution||Eric Reynolds||0.866||9||8||9||6||32|
|9||IRL 1392||Illes Pitiuses||Jason & Dominic Losty||0.904||12||9||10||10||41|
|10||IRL 3087||Anchor Challenge||Diarmuid Foley||0.915||10||13||5||17||45|
|11||GBR 7063||Love in a Mist||Eric Williams||0.85||16||11||11||7||45|
|12||GBR 6084||Sergeant Pepper||David Thomas||0.887||6||15||13||12.5||46.5|
|13||GBR 502||Catch||Olivia Dowling||0.916||15||19||12||8||54|
|14||GBR 1479R||Flashheart||M Webb, J & G Webb & T Bailey||0.891||14||12||16||12.5||54.5|
|15||FRA 9371||Menace||T Rees, D & J Morland||0.89||18||14||14||16||62|
|16||NZL 3311||Blackfun||Rob Gray||0.912||8||1||27/BFD||27/DNF||63|
|17||GBR 7055||Runaway Bus||Tom Hill||0.892||13||20||15||18||66|
|18||GBR 222R||Per Elisa||Richard Fleck||0.904||17||21||18||15||71|
|19||GBR 3341||Odd Job||Paul Treliving||0.904||19||17||17||19||72|
|20||GBR 3416||Olivia Anne VI||Jan Thirkettle||0.814||21||16||27/BFD||14||78|
|21||GBR 9827||Bad Toad||Paul Roberts, Jo & Sarah Assael||0.906||20||18||27/BFD||20||85|
|22||GBR 7557||Innuendo||Roger Swinney||0.905||22||24||20||21||87|
|23||GBR 7299||Panic||Geoff Gritton||0.902||24||22||19||23.5||88.5|
|24||GBR 2736R||Joker||Edward White||0.907||23||23||27/BFD||22||95|
|25||GBR 7430||Captain Moonlight||Terence Dinmore||0.905||25||25||21||25||96|
|26||GBR 6262||Rum Bleu||Lucy Wood & Tara Stone||0.859||26||27/DNF||22||23.5||98.5|