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Action-packed final day at the Vice Admiral's Cup

   Close quarters action amongst the Vice Admiral's Cup classes © Rick Tomlinson

The past three days has produced tantalisingly close racing for the 72 boats - an increase of 40 per cent on last year's entry. Despite what initially appeared to be an unpromising forecast, six to eight races were completed in each of the eight classes, in winds varying from five knots to a squall of more than 20.

This regatta is renowned for fast-paced close racing and this year proved to be no exception. There were many changes of leader across every fleet, while 23 different boats achieved at least one race win, and double that number scored at least one podium finish.

Summer sun returned for today's racing, with bright sun and rising temperatures, but initially without any wind. The committee boats left the dock when the beginnings of a southerly of 2-3 knots sprang up in the central Solent at 1030. Half an hour later it had swung into the south east and increased to 8 knots and the AP flags signalling the postponement came down at 1100.

The Fast 40+ fleet started the day with Niklas Zennstrom's Ran leading the series counting only four first places, having discarded a fifth place scored in yesterday's third race. However, four boats, separated by only two points, were locked in battle for second overall. Michael Bartholomew's Tokoloshe led this group on 12 points, ahead of Steve Cowie's Zephyr and Peter Morton's Girls on Film, who were tied on 13 points, while Niall Dowling's Arabella held fifth overall on 14 points.

The class had three short races today, the first of which was held in a building east-south-east breeze and a strengthening east-going tide. Girls on Film started prematurely, while Ed Fishwick's Redshift bailed out early before the gun, gybing onto port. Redshift then held out alone on the right hand side of the course, before leading into the windward mark on the port layline, tacking a length ahead of Ran.

They were followed by Zephyr, which had a small lead on Fillip Englebert's Elvis and Tokoloshe, with all three overlapped on the short spreader leg. By the finish Zephyr had slipped back to fifth place, while Redshift took second place, six seconds ahead of Girls on Film in third place.

In the next two races Ran scored a first and third, finishing the series with a commanding overall lead of nine points. A second and fourth for Girls on Film was just enough for Morton to secure second overall, half a point ahead of Tokoloshe's final score of 22.5.

"We've had big tides and big windshifts, which made for tight layline calls," says Ran navigator Tom Needham. "It's great that the race committee was able to get so many races off in tricky conditions and we've been really happy to see all the boats on the water, including new teams, for the first Fast40+ event this year.

"Today we were racing in deeper water, with big differences in the tide across the course - there were some big tide lines out there - so there were big gains or losses depending on which end of the line you started."

junoJuno was the victor in the Performance 40 class  © Rick Tomlinson

The Performance 40 class went into the final day with a much tighter leaderboard - Christopher Daniel's J/122e Juno led the class, counting four points from three races, just one point ahead of Michael Blair's King 40 Cobra.

At the start of the opening race another King 40, Roger Bowden's Nifty, headed out to the right hand side of the course, gaining a similar advantage to Redshift. Bowden got to the top mark at the same time as Ian Schenkel's Ker 39 Rumbleflurg, with both followed quickly by Juno and one of the lowest rated boats in the fleet, Andrew McIrvines' First 40 La Reponse. At this stage Cobra was well buried in the pack.

Juno was first across the line, saving her time on La Reponse by 14 seconds. Another First 40, Richard Patrick's Dusty P, took third on corrected time, just 12 seconds behind La Reponse. Juno took another decisive victory in the final race to win overall 10 points ahead of Cobra. Nifty and Dusty P tied on 17 points, with the former taking third overall thanks to her victory in race four.

At the start of the day five boats were still in contention for a podium place in the J/111 fleet. A win in both of today's races sealed Tony Mack's class victory on McFly, 6.5 points ahead of Joerg Sigg's Lallekonig. The three-way fight for third was resolved in favour of Chris Jones' Journeymaker ll, thanks to his two second places today.

Last year's J/109 class winner, Simon Perry's Jiraffe went into the final day one point ahead of Chris Preston's Jubilee. Both were neck and neck at the end of the first run of today's first race, with Jubilee rounding the mark inside Jiraffe. Both had been late to drop their spinnakers, which were still hoisted to the lower spreaders as they turned up to windward. Jubilee was quick to complete the drop, however Jiraffe had a snag and had slipped to leeward and astern by the time it was sorted.

In a tight finish that saw more than half the fleet cross the line in just 22 seconds, Perry's team recovered to lead by 12 seconds ahead of Jubilee, with RNSA's Jolly Jack Tar taking third place five seconds later and David Richard's Jumping Jellyfish fourth, just five seconds after that.

jiraffeJiraffe wins by a point in the closely contested J/109 class © Rick Tomlinson

Jubilee won the final race, but Jiraffe took second, 19 seconds ahead of John Smart's Jukebox. It was enough to seal overall victory for Jiraffe by one point. A very consistent performance by Jumping Jellyfish, with an almost straight run of fourth places, secured third overall, one point ahead of Jolly Jack Tar.

Only four points separated the top three boats in the HP30 fleet at the start of the day. Their first race saw an incredibly tight finish in a building breeze and the fleet in full planing mode - the first four boats crossed the line in just 26 seconds. Sture Wikamn's MC31 Vitres led the fleet, but as the highest rated boat he failed to beat Malcolm Wootton's Farr 30 Pegasus, Glyn Locke's Farr 280 Toucan, or Tim Cunliffe's Farr 30 Insatiable on corrected time.

With the top three teams now only two points apart, the pressure was on for the final two races. Locke's crew rose to the challenge, winning both races and taking overall victory by a four point margin. A pair of second places for Wootton sealed his second place overall. "It was a really great event, with such close racing," says Locke. "We rounded some marks four abreast and it was so tight we didn't know we had won until we saw the results."

eat sleep j repeatEat, Sleep, J, Repeat  triumphs in the J/70 class © Rick Tomlinson

The J/70 class used the regatta as Round 3 of their 2019 UK Class Grand Slam Series. A win in both races today saw Paul Ward's Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat cement overall victory ahead of Clive Bush's Darcey, while reigning Grand Slam Champion, Doug Struth's DSP, was third. All races were decided by a minute or less, with race five going to Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat by just five seconds from Darcey.

"This was the first time for the J/70s at the Vice Admiral's Cup and the race team did a great job for us, with six exciting races over two days," says Ward. "Onshore at the RORC clubhouse we enjoyed catching up with the other classes over a few beers and a curry. Thanks to all of the team at RORC for a great event."

Christian Sutherland's Reach Around dominated the SB20 fleet in the first half of the regatta, with three straight wins. However his consistency slipped midway, allowing Charlie Whelan's Breaking Bod to hold the overall lead by one point going into the final day. A further two wins sealed overall victory for Whelan, while a pair of seconds for Sutherland kept him seven points ahead of Charles Sheppard's Sharc, who finished in third place overall.

The front of the Quarter Ton fleet has again seen some of the closest of any fleet. In today's first race the first four boats blasted across the finish line in 14 seconds. On corrected time Ian Southworth's Protis and Julian Metherell's Bullit took equal first places after both scored exactly the same corrected time. Louise Morton's Bullet was third just three seconds adrift, and Sam Laidlaw's Aguila fourth eight seconds later.

louise mortonLouise Morton picks up her Quarter Ton winnings for Bullet from RORC Deputy Racing Manager Tim Thubron © Rick Tomlinson

This shuffled the overall leaderboard, with Morton dropping into second place, only half a point behind Southworth. However, Morton got the better of him in the next two races, winning each one by a decisive margin and taking overall victory by 1.5 points. Tony Hayward's Blackfun was third overall, but on almost double the Southworth's points, and just one point ahead of fourth-placed Metherell.

"I'm really pleased," says Morton. "Sam has dominated the class for a long time, so I'm very happy to win this trophy back. We've had incredibly close racing and the race team has done really well to get eight good races completed."

Tough racing in light airs for RORC Vice Admiral's Cup Fleet on Day One

fast40d1The Fast 40+ class gets racing despite light airs today © Rick Tomlinson

The opening day of the Vice Admiral's Cup served up light airs, with big shifts and wind reversals that challenged competitors and race officials alike. A quiet morning quickly gave way to an afternoon that started with fast-paced action on both course areas.

The first start was for the J/111 and J/109 classes in a very shifty southwesterly of 10-12 knots that created plenty of tactical challenges in a tight race with a short 0.8 mile windward leg. The fleet strongly favoured the committee boat end of the line and the first start was abandoned with 40 seconds to go.

j111d1Lallekonig squeezes ahead of McFly to take the J/111 class © Rick Tomlinson

In the restart, the fleet was more spaced out, with Cornel Riklin's J/111 Jitterbug closest to the pin end of the line. Both Simon Bamford's Kestrel and Joerg Sigg's Lallekonig appeared well placed mid-line, but the former was OCS.

It was an intense race for the J/111s, with two laps completed in only 35 minutes, and the first five boats finishing just 69 seconds apart. Joerg Sigg's Swiss Lallekonig took victory, 20 seconds ahead of Tony Mack's McFly, with Cornel Riklin's Jitterbug third.

Next away was the HP30 class, which again saw intense competition and on such a short course a good start was imperative. Tim Cunliffe's Farr 30 Insatiable was almost alone mid line, while most of the fleet again stacked up at the committee boat. Sture Wilkman's Swedish MC31 Vitres and Malcolm Wootton's Farr 30 Pegasus both jumped the gun and had to return, leaving Jamie Rankin's Farr 280 Pandemonium looking best placed in the early part of the race.

hp30d1Farr 280 Toucan flys to victory in the HP30 class © Rick Tomlinson

Glyn Lock's Farr 280 Toucan and Insatiable rounded the second windward mark simultaneously, with the former inside and therefore gaining a narrow lead at the spreader mark. They were followed closely by Pegasus, Virtres and Pandemonium.

Unfortunately, the best wind of the day proved to be short-lived and by the time the leaders were reaching the finish the breeze had dropped to only six knots, and even less in some big holes. Nevertheless, Toucan pulled out an impressive lead on the final leg, finishing more than two minutes ahead of Insatiable, with Pegasus taking third on the water just three seconds later. Toucan's lead was sufficient to retain the lead after time correction.

The SB20 fleet also raced on the same course, but spent proportionately more time in the lighter winds. Lizzie Farrington's Sail Navy started mid-line with a half-length advantage on the boats nearby, while Robin Kirby's Carnage also looked well placed close to the committee boat. However, Farrington was racing with a new crew of naval ratings who had not previously sailed an SB20 and Kirby retired. Christian Sutherland's Reach Around took victory a good margin ahead of Charlie Whelan's Breaking Bod and Charles Sheppard's Sharc.

The Fast 40+ class was first away for the second start line, with a 1.3 mile windward leg on a course axis of 260 degrees. Tony Dickin's Jubilee led the fleet at the first windward mark, 20 seconds ahead of Filip Engelbert's Elvis. Steve Cowie's Zephyr rounded next, 27 seconds later, followed closely by Niklas Zennstrom's Ran.

By the time the wind eased on the final run, Ran had pulled out a good lead. Meanwhile, having rounding the last mark uncharacteristically far back in the fleet, Peter Morton's Girls on Film gybed toward the northern corner of the course, well clear of her competitors. For a while it looked as though this might work, but as Ran closed the finish a very light south-easterly breeze re-established and Girls on Film again slipped backwards down the rankings.

Ed Fishwick's Redshift was second on the water, a couple of minutes adrift of Ran, and Zephyr third 67 seconds later. With only one point of rating difference between the three boats, they retained these positions on corrected time.

quatd1Quarter Tonner Protis extends her lead to finish first in class © Rick Tomlinson 

The Quarter Ton class had a long race for their first day, taking 1 hour 20 minutes in extremely fluky winds. Nevertheless Ian Southworth's Protis, Sam Laidlaw's Aquilla and Louise Morton's Bullet had a close tussle all the way around the course.

Southworth held a one-length lead over Aquilla at the end of the second 0.9 mile beat, with Bullet following close behind, ahead of Tom Hill's Belinda. On the final leg he extended the lead to 44 seconds, taking both line honours and victory on corrected time. Bullet crossed the line second, just ahead of Aguila, but fell to third on corrected time, while Tony Hayward's Blackfun moved from the back of the fleet up to fourth on the water.

"it was a tough, light airs Solent mixer and the team did very well to get a race in," Southworth said. "We changed places a number of times - it was nip and tuck all the way with Aguila and Bullet - very interesting racing and we're all looking forward to tomorrow."

With the south-easterly breeze subsequently stalling, racing was abandoned for the day at 1620. Tomorrow promises a more consistent north-north westerly breeze.  

Rupert Holmes

Visit: http://www.rorc.org/ 

 

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The RORC was founded in 1925 to encourage long distance yacht racing and the design, building and navigation of sailing vessels in which speed and seaworthiness are combined. Today the club encourages ocean, long distance and other forms of yacht racing and yachting activity.