Pieter Heerama threw down the “Gauntlet” yesterday to the exceptionally strong 28 boat fleet representing 10 different Nation’s in Portugal yesterday, by leading overall with a 5th and 1st place after the first two races of the 5th Winter Series run by the Club Naval de Cascais….  Close on his heels also with 6 pts is HUG 57 Ferenc Kis-Szolgyemi (2nd and 4th) and yours truly, on 7pts GBR 751 Martin Payne (4th and 3rd) helming “Bear”….

It was a superb first day of sailing as the wind settled in from the North-West and the sky turned back to blue after an overnight downpour of rain that was the first seen in Cascais for 3 months!! Yes, 3 months without rain yet Portugal is the most beautiful country with terrific Golf Courses, magnificent beaches and wonderful places to visit. When you add the famous “fish” dishes served up by many local restaurants, where else would you want to be? Certainly nowhere else for the teams from GBR, HUG, GER, NED, SWE, POR, SUI, MON, RUS, and DEN. Indeed it was DEN 405 that flew the flag for Denmark in Race one, as Frank Berg (World Champion Runner Up), helmed a new Petticrow to glory. Then it looked like GER 1123 Tommy Muller (former World Champion), was going to win race two in his new “Out of the wrapper” Petticrow, before Heerama pipped him at the finish..

With another 5 races over the next two days I am sure many more top teams will feature on the leaderboard as the strength in depth of this fleet is realised. But for now Pieter Heerama, straight from his Match Race win last week, holds the clubhouse lead… Well done!

Today being St Patricks Day will see many of the Irish Bars in Cascais full to the brim as the Guinness is consumed and the music flows, I just hope that when the England Rugby Team  beat them at Twickenham, the Irish eye’s are still smiling…… as many of our sailors will be rushing to join in the fun directly after the races today….  (5pm).

Higher, Faster, Longer…..       “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”    Stavros. (GBR 751)