Another three race day
Principle Race Officer Bruce Leask put together another excellent day on the water for the Fireball fleet contesting their European Championship in Lerwick, Shetland. Two full races and a shortened third race were provided in winds that started at the 10 knot mark and topped out with a 23 knot gust in the final race. Racing started under grey skies and in winds that were similar to yesterday though from a slightly more southerly direction. Sunshine was also in evidence and in the middle race in particular, champagne conditions were being enjoyed – good breeze, sunshine, fast reaches and an interesting sea condition – slightly lumpy but not excessive.
Tom Gillard & Richard Anderton (GBR 15081) took two race wins, in the fourth and sixth race to the solitary race win by Matt Burge and Richard Wagstaff (GBR15093). With the first discard kicking in this combination of results leaves the pair separated by two points after six races, 7 to 9.
Due to a starting transgression, this correspondent was able to watch the middle race with a degree of comfort. It was intriguing to see these two, plus Dave Wade & Tim Hartley (GBR 15113) pull away from the rest of the fleet. Burge was like a shepherd, making sure that his flock of two didn't get too far away from him up the upwind legs. Wade and Gillard were in even closer company. Burge led the second race of the day from the start and at the first leeward mark they had a comfortable lead while Gillard and Wade were second and third respectively. Up the second beat there was no change but down the sausage it looked as though Burge and Wagstaff had blown a significant lead when they went very deep on the LHS of the sausage. The other pair had gybed earlier, also from the left hand side and seemed to enjoy better conditions as they crossed the course on a three sail starboard reach. However, by the time they got to the second leeward mark, the apparent deficit evaporated and Burge rounded ahead by a safe distance. Gillard was second and Wade third. But at the final weather mark the 2nd/3rd places changed as Wade flew bag and got away from Gillard. This order remained to the finish. McCartin and Kinsella (IRL 15114) were a distant 4th (in relative terms) while the Czech combinations of Jaroslav Verner & Jakub Napravnik (CZE 15110) and Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 14551) never lost sight of each other as they claimed 6th and 5th respectively. The former combination had a harder day on the water as evidenced by a 5, 6, 6, in contrast to yesterday's 3, 3, 3.
The first race was held in the most benign conditions of the day but that didn't mean that there were any new admissions to the top five club. Three British combinations, an Irish and a Czech team took the top five places again. Gillard won from Burge, McCartin, Wade and Verner. The reaches of the first triangle were very enjoyable three sail sessions and the downwind leg was equally entertaining. However, the first reach of the second triangle was curious in that the leaders didn't sail the shortest course to the gybe mark, electing instead to sail to a random point upwind of the mark. Given that the leg broadened as the gybe mark was approached, it may have been that people were trying to extend their tight three sail reach before gybing for the mark. The consequence of the slightly benign tail end of the leg was that the second reach was a lot tighter – so much so that even some of the leaders two-sailed the leg. Those that persisted with three sails found themselves being pushed to leeward and more than one two-sailer gained places by adopting this conservative approach.
Due to gear failure, this correspondent didn't see the last race of the day but the top-five club was broken into by Alex Taylor and Geoff Edwards (GBR 15046) who claimed fourth. That will compensate them for the DNF that they recorded in Race 5. Gillard finished the day as he had started, with a win. The younger Czech combination of Paruzek & Kosvica had a "blip" with a 14 which gives Verner a significant cushion on his young compatriots as the leading Czech boat.
The leading Shetland boat thus far is Scott Nicolson & Roger Goudie (SHE 14513) who scored a consistent 8, 7, 8 on day 2 which sees them consolidate a position in the top ten.
Irish combination Miller & Inan (IRL 14713) will also have enjoyed their day as a 12, 10, 9, scorecard, as well as showing a progressive daily improvement, consolidates their position in 9th and second Irish boat behind McCartin & Kinsella.
Among the lady helms, Maja Suter, from Switzerland, crewed by Thomas Boehm (SUI 14921) is in 17th place, just one ahead of Louise McKenna, crewed by Hermine O'Keeffe (IRL 14691), a place ahead of Barbara Newson, crewed by husband Guy (GBR 14872) who is, in turn, a place ahead of Maggie Adamson, crewed by Ian Adamson (SHE 144763).
With two days of actual racing, we are now back on schedule, but most people will be enjoying tomorrow's layday after the exertions of today.