Fiona Brown /

Vice Admiral's Cup underway

Racing this year for the J/111s, J/109s, Quarter Tonners and SB20s

Friday May 15th 2015, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom

The opening day of the 2015 Vice Admiral's Cup, hosted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club incorporating the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, saw a 35 strong fleet enjoy three exciting light to moderate airs races. Initially a lack of wind forced Race Officer Rob Lamb to call for a two hour postponement ashore. His timing and assessment of the conditions proved to be spot on and by the revised start time of 13.30 the fleet was in the race area and a light west-south-westerly breeze was building.

Although the conditions were cooperating and the teams were ready to go, circumstances beyond the race committee's control saw one of the mark laying boats briefly out of action with technical issues and another called away to assist with a May Day rescue. To allow time to get the mark boats back on station a further 15 minute postponement was made and the race committee set up a compromise windward leeward course using Solent marks to reduce waiting time for the competitors.

For the first two races the J/111 and J/109 fleets were combined and made a spectacular sight as they crossed the line. Although spectacular, the combining of the fleets made life quite challenging for the J/109s who not only had to battle each other, but also find clear lanes behind the slightly faster J/111s. For race three all four fleets raced independently which made life much simpler for the tacticians aboard the now separate J/111s and J/109s.

All three races were run on windward-leeward courses. After his opening Solent marks based course, Rob Lamb was able to run races two and three on laid mark courses with varying leg lengths, start line lengths and finish line configurations giving great racing and keeping everyone on their toes. The wind continued to build, eventually topping out in the mid teens by the end of the third race.

The J/111s were dominated by Tony Mack and his crew aboard McFly. This experienced and well practised team took two race wins and were only narrowly beaten in race two by Stuart Sawyer's Black Dog. Racing throughout the rest of the fleet was tight with plenty of place changing and close action. McFly's consistency gives her the overnight lead by three points from Black Dog which added a fourth and second to its race win to end the day a single point ahead of third placed Jitterbug, owned by Cornel Riklin.

Ian Nagle's J/109 Jelly Baby emulated McFly's success by also posting a 2, 1, 1 scoreline. Their nearest rival, the Royal Naval Sailing Association's Jolly Jack Tar started off the day with flying colours and a first and second place, but struggled in the third race finishing sixth, so that overall Jelly Baby now leads Jolly Jack Tar by five points. Third place overnight is filled by Paul Griffiths and his team aboard Jagerbomb, who took sixth in the opening race but then picked up to add a pair of third places, leaving them on 12 points overall and three points adrift of Jolly Jack Tar.

The evergreen Quarter Ton Class provided some of the closes racing of the day and three different race winners. Race one went to Sam Laidlaw aboard Aquila, race two to Richard Melander sailing Alice II and race three was claimed by Tony Hayward's Black Fun. Unlike the other fleets, who race one design in this regatta, the Quarter Tonners are sailing under IRC and the corrected finish times were close though out the fleet with boats often separated by only one or two seconds.

Aguila followed her opening bullet with a pair of seconds and takes the overnight lead with five points. Three points behind her lies Alice II who had finished second in race one and fifth in race thee to give her eight points overall. Rounding out the top three and both on 11 points overall are Blackfun, with a pair of fifths plus her race three win, and Per Elisa with a third and two fourths. The Per Elisa crew was delighted with their day.

Peter MacFarlane said: "We've never done so well. Of course it helps to have the expertise of North Sail's Neil Mackley on board, but we were delighted with how well the boat went. She has a new keel and rudder which have transformed her upwind. We're looking forward to tomorrow and just hope we can keep it up!"

Forelle Estates, owned by the Llewellyn/Wakefield/Virgus partnership, dominated the SB20 fleet with three confident race wins. Charles Sheppard's Sharc was equally consistant with three second places and the Russell/Westlake partnership owned eDigital Research took three third places. Unsurprisingly these three lead the SB20 fleet on three, six and nine points respectively.

With two more days of racing and slightly stronger winds expected, the regatta remains wide open. Up to eight races are scheduled with a discard being allowed once six races have been completed. Weather permitting day two racing gets underway again at 10.30 and the race committee will be aiming to run at least three more races.

Results here

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