Today saw tensions rise in an incredibly close race in unstable winds that saw the top five boats separated by just 12 seconds at the start of the final beat.
To add to the drama, it was this leg that decided the overall winners of the event: after a consistent four races Graham and Julia Bailey, crewed by Keith Tippell and Will Heritage, started the day in a position to win both the Edinburgh Cup and Corinthian Trophy with a day to spare, providing they finished fourth or better.
The final leg saw a fierce battle between Lawrie Smith, who led round the bottom mark, and the Baileys, with Smith tacking on top of his opponents more than a dozen times. However, although they slipped back one place on the final leg, the Baileys held on to fourth place to cement their victory.
All to play for tomorrow
While the overall winner may have been decided with a day to spare, there is everything to play for in the final race tomorrow. There are only four points between Smith and Strauss in the battle for second and third places, while the next five boats are separated by only seven points. In the Corinthian Division, Mark Wade’s Avalanche is in second place two points ahead of Eric Williams Ecstatic, with Julian Sowry’s Scimitar just three points adrift in fourth place.
Race 5 detail
After two postponements due to the gusty and shifty offshore wind, the first start resulted in a general recall. In the restart the Baileys were not in a great position, a little back from the line and with boats to windward. They split with closest rival Lawrie Smith, heading hard left for much of the first beat, arriving at the windward mark in fourth place.
“We managed to just survive the start,” says Graham. “I’ve never subscribed to the idea that you have to stay with the fleet and we felt much happier once we were in our own water with the freedom to make the most of the conditions on that side of the course.”
In the second, and third beats, however, Smith denied them the luxury of being able to choose where to head: Graham says “Lawrie did a terrific job of making it difficult for us.” The unstable wind also added to the difficulty in posting a consistent result: “There was a lot of pressure on us out there,” says Julia. “One minute you were in second place and the next you were fifth – we were repeatedly ahead of, and then behind, other boats as we crossed tacks.”
This effect was particularly apparent in the later half of the second beat, when a large number of boats fell into a hole on the left-hand side of the course, which again shuffled the order of the fleet. By the time they reached the finish Smith had extended his lead over Mark Dicker to 12 seconds, while Quentin Strauss took third place, seven seconds later and just four seconds ahead of the Baileys.
The second race today was for the Crew’s Trophy. It was won by Rory Paton sailing Ecstatic, with Lisa Guy second on Quicksilver lV and the Bailey’s 13-year-old bowman and genoa trimmer, Will Heritage, third. Heritage also won the Under 30 division – a trophy that has the potential to have his name engraved on it for many years to come.
The overall results of the Chairman’s Decanter series have also been announced. The winner is Selina Dicker with three points, with Mike Foster second on four points and Jenny Stutley third with seven points.