It was a fantastic last day in Weymouth (Host venue for the 2013 Worlds), as all the top FIVE boats could still win the prestigious Edinburgh Cup in the final 6th race, but it was Lawrie Smith and his team that added yet another trophy to their impressive short C.V. Since winning the recent Grade 1 German Grand Prix in Kuhlungsborn against “many” of the Worlds best, the current World Champion was always going to be favourite when he arrived in Weymouth. However, Lawrie, Tim and Ossie had to work hard to the very last beat of the very last race……
The race started on time at 11.00 in a light but building westerly wind that was to increase and turn a little to the north. The PRO Chris Hatton set a very “fair” line so there was no need for the Black Flag and the fleet got away cleanly first time, perhaps it may have been more sensible to wait a little longer for the breeze to fill in, but that’s history now 🙂
Three boats GBR 610, GBR 633 and USA 310 made good advantage of the Committee Boat end of the line and went right, whilst the majority of the fleet continued on starboard. These three boats were to round the first mark in that order as the wind increased and went 10 degrees to the right, although a number of boats did come in strong from the left. So again the Weymouth “Race Track” showed that with a clean start and good boat speed, both sides of the first beat could pay. When coaching I often say to my sailor’s “if you have a great position at the top mark, DON’T Gybe” as the wind is taken by all the incoming boats, so simply bear away set and keep in clean air… So what did the first three boats all do…? Yes we all gybed. This enabled many of the pursuing competitors to make a substantial gain on the first downwind leg.
Of the leading 5 boats overall it was GBR 785 Lawrie Smith and GBR 780 Grant Gordon who were first to show, whilst GBR 761 Gavia Wilkinson-Cox who had been one of the early leading bunch to gybe and was beginning to suffer due to the lack of wind on the right hand side of the course. Meanwhile GBR 775 Poul-Richard and GBR 758 Klaus Diederichs were both well down the fleet and having to sail for their lives to try to get back in the game. They could only watch as GBR 610 Mark Dicker, had a “blinder” of a race not only maintaining his lead, but actually pulling away from the fleet……….(Mark had initially Gybed Set, but sensibly gybed back out to sea to cover the pack of pursuing boats).
So as the race continued the right hand side of the beat seemed to pay as the clouds rolled in from the north-west and the wind was turning right, even though “occasional” gains could still be made on the left. By the middle of the 3rd and final beat, Lawrie Smith and his team had the Championship in their control, but the race was on for the other podium places. I spoke with GBR 758 Klaus Diederichs after the race about his final “charge”…
Klaus said “We knew something had to be done on the final beat, so we took the right hand gate and sailed high on starboard slightly out to the left. Then we were headed and came back in on port with quite a good heading and could not believe it when GBR 761 Gavia did not cover us as she was 100m ahead. We also had to try to finish no worse than 12th place as we knew how the discards and overall points would play out with our main competitors”. In fact GBR 761 continued out to the left of the course, hoping for something that would bring them closer to Lawrie and still win the Cup. Sadly it was not to be. Klaus added ” We then got a nice header and tacked onto starboard for our final approach to the line. We managed to catch GBR 761 and finish 12th which gave us 2nd overall” So congratulations to Klaus, Andy Beadsworth and Jamie Lea.
Meanwhile on GBR 780 Grant Gordon (the other Half of Team “Fever”, a Swan shared by Grant and Klaus), was going great guns and followed up his win the day before with a superb 3rd place and in fact, on count back, took 3rd overall in the Championship. A delighted Grant told me “Sailing in Weymouth where Gold Medals have been won was always going to be exciting. We were very happy with our performance in this regatta, our first on Home Waters. So we look forward to more such challenges in the future”. Very well done to Grant, Ruaridh Scott and Joost Houweling.
In the Corinthian Championship it was comfortably won by GBR 720 Julia Bailey and her 4 crew team, husband Graham, Will Heritage and Keith Tippell. With a little more luck Julia and her team would have won the whole event as they were showing stunning consistency in the early races. Their time will come, I’m sure.
So in closing I would like to back up Lawrie Smith, who at the Prize Giving, congratulated PRO Chris Hatton on a superb week. The start lines were excellent as where the courses. If the wind changed, the marks were moved or legs were shorted or lengthened accordingly. The communication with his staff/helpers and the competitors was first class and Chris was always ready and available to listen to “us” the sailors for advice, feedback etc… It is a shame Chris will not be in charge for our World Championship in September.
Higher, Faster, Longer……………… Stavros. (USA 310).