Day 3 Report

Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2017 – Day 3

Report by Rupert Holmes

The first start today (for Race 5) was postponed at the last minute when it became clear, in the words of principal race officer Robert Lamb, that: "...there was way too much interest in the port end of the line." The pin was moved six lengths downwind for the next start, but the fleet was still very keen to approach the line, with a couple of mid-line boats over with 20 seconds still to go, and a big bunch of boats rapidly piling into the pin end. Now confident that the line was fair, Lamb called a general recall and a black flag for the next start.

This time the fleet was much more line shy, getting away cleanly, with Mark Richmond's Cote winning the pin end, ahead of Whiskers. Richard Fleck's Per Elisa was also well placed, on the windward hip of Whiskers, while Louise Morton's Bullit looked good ahead of the other boats starting mid-line.

In the early part of the first beat Whiskers, Mike Daly's Cobh Pirate, Blackfun and Peter Morton's Innuendo all went well left. At the first windward mark, however, William McNeill's Illegal came out with a commanding lead ahead of Cobh Pirate, with Aguila and Per Elisa rounding in unison in third and fourth places on the water. Aguila regained the lead on the second lap, while Whiskers crept up to second place both on the water and on corrected time on the run to the finish.

Further back in the fleet, two of the favourites for winning the Quarter Ton Cup - Tony Hayward's Blackfun (who started the day second overall) and Peter Morton's Innuendo - had a very disappointing start to the day, languishing in 16th and 17th places respectively.

Race 6 started cleanly, with the fleet much more spread along the line than in the first. Aguila led the fleet around the first mark, an impressive 40 seconds ahead of Whiskers. 

While yesterday's downwind legs were a high-adrenaline battle to stay in control, today's were much more gentle tactical affairs in which gybing on the biggest windshifts, while staying in the favourable tide in the North Channel for as long as possible, was critical.

Aguola whiskers

At the end of the second windward leg, Whiskers had narrowed Aguila's lead to less than three lengths. The former gybed at the spreader mark, with Illegal following in her wake, while Aguila continued on starboard for 150 metres. The two leaders then closed each other, before Whiskers gybed onto starboard, and forcing her opponent to gybe almost simultaneously. 

They crossed the finish overlapped, with Whiskers taking line honours, barely the length of the foredeck ahead of Aguila. However, with the latter rating three points less than Whiskers, Aguila won on corrected time by 10 seconds. Illegal took third place, her first podium result of the event, while Tom Hill's newly restored Belinda showed excellent promise, finishing fourth.

Race 7 saw three premature starters, and a number of boats that returned unnecessarily. Aguila again showed excellent speed in the softening breeze, but behind her there was a major shake up in positions. At the end of the first leg, Per Elisa was second on the water, ahead of Cote and Cobh Pirate, positions they all held to the finish.

Whiskers and Blackfun, the top two boats at the end of yesterday's racing, both had a shocking race, well buried in the fleet and with the former almost failing to weather the spreader mark having hoisted the spinnaker prematurely.