July 25, 2019
Tuesday night was hot and humid and in the morning it didn’t take long for the cicadas in the olive groves above town to build to top volume as the full heat of the day hit in. A lighter Peler blowing in the morning fuelled rumour of a big Ora day to come. By the time the D flag was dropped to release the sailors from the shore the wind had already kicked in nicely and with certainty this was going to be another awesome day’s sailing.
The start of the first race of the day was super competitive with a busy front row of boats bang on the line. They all got away cleanly with Tim Gratton and Fiona Hampshire timing their committee boat start to perfection and tacking away first towards to cliffs. Megan Brickwood and Steph Orton were next hot on their heels.
At the windward mark it was overnight leaders Luke McEwen and Milly Boyle who hoisted first but then trawled their kite allowing three boats past. So Andy and Allyson Jefferies, demonstrating their big breeze speed skills, took the lead, followed by Stevie Wilson and Rory Hunter and Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore. Tom and Guy gybed off early down the run and by the leeward mark Stevie Wilson and Rory Hunter had powered past Andy and Allyson to take the lead. It was very tight behind with Luke and Milly rounded in third place just ahead of Tom and Guy and the French team of Gilles Peeters and Heloise Baize who were having their first great race of the regatta.
The top four places remained unchanged for the rest of the race as they all sailed bows-down for speed upwind and enjoyed the sleigh ride downwind, with the Riva cliffs side of the course the one side to go each way. With boats hoisting their kites on the top spreader reach there were opportunities for losses or gains as manoeuvres started to get challenging in the building breeze.
The second leeward mark became slightly more interesting as two paddle-boarders had decided it a good idea to visit it. After some very close calls with the tail end of the RS700 fleet, the rescue boat finally managed to escort them clear just before the leading RS800s reached the mark.
The final gybing of the leading boats in to cross the challengingly short finish line was action packed and very close as the top six finished with a boat length or two separating them. Frances and Tom Partington nearly caught the leaders and just held off Gilles and Heloise after a very exciting race.
By the start of the second race it was like being in giant hair dryer switched to full power. In a bizarre pre-start moment Steve and Sarah Cockerill’s mast folded in half leaving them to pick up the pieces and get towed ashore.
Meanwhile, Hugh Shone and Hannah Tattersall got a cracking start and were looking sweet as they tacked off followed by Joe Joyner and Will Broom. While the vast majority of the fleet stuck to the game plan of heading to the cliffs, Luke and Milly got a good start but took a gamble to go hard left. By half way up the beat it was apparent this was a very bad idea and they crossed back behind over half the fleet, opening up the top of the leader board again.
At the top mark Gilles and Heloise were having a fantastic day hoisting in first place. By the leeward mark they had been overhauled by a very close battle between Hugh and Hannah, and Andy and Allyson. Over the next lap Hugh and Hannah established the lead which they impressively held to the finish. The second leeward mark offered up the additional challenge of a slow-moving RS700 that created problems for the chasing pack; Tom and Guy negotiated best pushing Gilles and Heloise hard while Frances and Tom got in to difficulty and lost out allowing Stevie and Rory to move on up to 5th.
Wobbly boat handling was witnessed throughout the fleet and many fell victim to a capsize or two. Some big gusts made the final run to the finish fairly hectic even for the top teams. Big smiles from Hugh and Hannah, and Andy and Allyson as they finished well clear of the rest of the fleet. Tom and Guy finished a good day in 3rd; with the new over-night leaders Stevie and Rory claiming 4th. Frances and Tom recovered to 5th place with Rob Gullan and Callum Healey having a much better day finished in 6th.
Returning to the class after more than a decade, Geoff Carveth and Lesley Dhonau were having a great race until a swim on the final spreader reach caught them out. The new team of Eddie Bridle and Ed Gibbons continue to improve race-by-race as they finished in 8th place. Chris Feibusch and Nick Jerkins were looking cool up in the top 10 until a disastrous pitchpole caused by halyard malfunction resulted in Nick face-planting on the jib track and a trip to hospital to stitch up a nasty head injury. They’ll be devastated if this has taken them out of racing for the rest of the week.
The evening was billed to be lively as the Crews Union gathered for pizza and prosecco at the favourite and tolerant Sotto Vento restaurant, leaving the helms to fend for themselves. Stories of the big day on the water and quirky helm habits were exchanged at the crew’s dinner while the helms probably discussed rig settings and mark rounding rules with enthusiasm. All seemed to still be in one piece as everyone convened at the Winds Bar for another late session.
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