Antigua noses ahead

Nine races now sailed at the Etchells Invitational in Cowes

Wednesday July 30th 2014, Author: Rupert Holmes, Location: United Kingdom

After another fine day with bright sun and a solid SSWerly afternoon sea breeze, the top of the leaderboard could hardly be closer.

With nine races completed, and two discards in operation, Jeremy Thorp of Antigua Yacht Club leads the fleet overall, lifted by a fourth and two second places today. However, Shannon Bush of New York YC is just one point adrift, having scored a second and first in the day’s initial two races, but finishing the next with a disappointing 11th that she was unable to discard.

Slow starts for Jeanne-Claude Strong of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in the first two races saw the overall leader at the mid-way point of the regatta slip to third overall, six points behind Bush, but with a useful seven point cushion on fourth-placed Seamus McHugh, of the Societe Nautique de Geneve.

The first start of the day, for Race 7, saw Strong pinned out at the committee boat end of the line. A few minutes into the race Thorp was leading the pack up the middle of the track, followed by Bush, with both looking very well placed. However, it was the Royal Thames YC’s Ian Dobson, crewed by Murray Chapples and Thomas Brennan, that rounded the top mark first, followed by Thorp, the RTYC’s Youth Academy Team (Ben Gratton, Tim Gratton, Arthur Henderson and Lilly Carlisle) in third place and Bush fourth.

A misjudgement by Thorp, resulting in him hitting the top mark, had the potential to spoil his day – by the time he completed his penalty turn he had dropped to 12th place. On the second beat most of the fleet stayed to the left hand side of the course, but the spread between the boats continued to grow, with Dobson developing a big lead on Shannon at the top mark, followed by the young sailors, a similar distance behind in third and Thorp moving up to fourth in an impressive recovery.

The next race saw a general recall on the first start, but the fleet got away under a U flag rule at the second attempt, with Strong again at the committee boat end and a few seconds late, while last year’s Etchells world champion, Marvin Beckmann of Houston YC, was closest to the pin. As the fleet neared the top mark in a light breeze the Youth Academy team rounded first, followed by Shannon, Thorp and Beckmann.

However, the next lap, sailed in a more consistent sea breeze, was not so good for either the young RTYC team or Beckmann, who both slipped a little down the fleet, while Shannon and Thorp went on to finish first and second respectively, with Jan Muysken of Emirates Palace YC, Abu Dhabi, crewed by David Bedford and Mark Lees, taking third.

The final race of the day, sailed in the strongest winds yet experienced in the event, saw a better start from Strong. At the end of the first beat she was second, just behind McHugh and managed to get an overlap inside him at the end of the first run. However, the next run saw Thorp split with the fleet, taking the disadvantaged right-hand side of the gate, but making big gains through increased pressure and clean air on that side of the course. Beckmann had also made good gains on the run to hold a narrow lead at the beginning of the beat to the finish, which he retained to the end, crossing the line a fraction ahead of Thorp, while Strong held onto her third place and McHugh fourth.

Jeremy Thorp, now leading the fleet overall by just one point, said: ”It’s been an excellent event, with great weather and I’m really pleased – we’re well ahead of my expectations, although this was a day of fight backs for us. Hitting the top mark in the first race was our only big mistake and generally we went the right way on every leg. My tacticians [Stuart Childerley and Mark Andrews] did a great job.”

Going into the final day of the event, every team is counting at least one mid-fleet result, even after two discards, while 11 have also scored at least one podium finish. After the day’s racing teams enjoyed a gala dinner at the Royal Yacht Squadron, before the final two races, which are scheduled to start at 1030 tomorrow.

Full results here

 

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