19 boats took to the start line today to sail the first two races of the popular Cascais Winter Series. The strong North Westerly winds had blown themselves out over the past week andso the big rolling swell from the Atlantic finally died away… It left a very confused chop, but with the wind strength around 15kts, it made the sailing both rewarding and enjoyable, without just having to survive.  Teams from Russia, Germany, Sweden and the UK joined the strong Portuguese fleet to test their skills on the blue warm waters off the beaches of Estoril as most of Europe continues to freeze or shelter from the rain!

The first race started at 2.00pm against a strong tide of almost 2kts which kept the fleet back from the line. When the water floods into Lisbon, it can give a big “pull” from the more shallow waters off Cascais, so judging the Lay-Line would prove crucial as the leaders approach the wind ward mark. At least three boats misjudged the current and almost stopped whilst trying to round the buoy. This left GER 1080 Marcus Brennecke clear ahead and he never looked back. Martin Payne GBR 8 had a battle with POR 40 for 2nd place as RUS 69 Olga White tried desperately to recover after taking a 360 degree penalty for hitting the first mark. She did well on the 2nd beat and pulled up to a well, to finish in a deserved 3rd place….. Just behind Payne who had seen off POR 40 at the second windward mark…….

In the second race the wind increased and SWE 356 Stefan Wineberg sailed into a strong lead, GBR 8 Martin Payne chased him hard over the 1.2 mile first beat, whilst RUS 96 Mikhail Muratov consolidated 3rd place after an excellent upwind leg. Payne eventually surfed pass Wineberg to finish the day with a 1st & 2nd place,  2nd overall is Brennecke on 8pts with White 3rd overall on 9pts.

Tomorrow the fleet will increase as a few more of the local sailors enjoy time off work…  the forecast is for lighter winds which will see some major place changes as the current will remain fairly strong… This may favour the experienced Husband and Wife team of Julia and Graham Bailey who have chosen to winter their Dragon “Aimie” here in Portugal, along with their magnificent 60′ Oyster which rests peacefully in the well situated Cascais Marina…..    More to follow…………….

Higher, Faster, Longer…………..   Stavros.