A third scored in today's race eight of the Quarter Ton Cup moves Paul Gibbons's Anchor Challenge within six points of the top five overall. The Royal Cork yacht is the top Irish boat in the 23-boat fleet, two places ahead of Royal Irish entry Quest, skippered by Barry Cunningham. The third Irish boat, Cobh Pirate has moved up two places to be 13th overall.
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The second day of the 2018 Revival Quarter Ton Cup brought gorgeous warm sunshine and extremely challenging conditions for the 21 strong fleet off Cowes. A constantly shifting and variable northerly wind ranging from 6 to 16 knots, plus a building flood tide kept both the crews and the race committee on their toes. In a single leg the boats could find themselves going from ghosting along with crew to leeward to broaching out in the gusts, whilst the race committee had to hold their nerve, yet be ready to act quickly when a shift held instead of swinging back.
With the forecast for tomorrow’s final day of racing threatening northerly winds of sub-five knots, Race Officer Rob Lamb wisely elected to run a further four races, races five to eight of the series, leaving just a single race to complete on the final day. A decision universally applauded by the fleet.
The change of pace brought some new faces to the fore and some interesting changes to the leader board. The racing was also extremely close with many results being decided by just a couple of seconds.
Sam Laidlaw’s Aquila and Kieran Hayward’s Black Fun revelled in the new conditions, winning two races apiece. Also enjoying the challenge was Catrina and Ian Southworth’s Whiskers, Julian Metherell’s Bullit and Barry Cunningham’s Quest, who all claimed top three finishes during the day.
One team not so happy with the lighter conditions was Louise Morton’s Bullet crew, who went into the day with a confident overall lead, but seemed to struggle to gain traction and frequently found themselves buried in the pack.
Quarter Ton Cup reigning champion Aquila was by far the best performer of the day, claiming a 2, 1, 1, 4 score line. With the series’ single discard now coming into play and a discarded worst score of fifth place in yesterday’s third race this gives Aguila an unassailable six-point lead over her nearest rival. But whilst the overall winner may already have been decided, the battle for the remaining podium positions will go down to the wire. Blackfun won the opening race of the day, but faltered with an eleventh in race six, before coming back with a second and a win. She now sits second overall on 22 points with the 11th place as her discard. Bullet has moved down into third place on 24.5 points with a discard of 7th, while four further points behind her sits Whiskers on 28.5 points and discarding 8.5. All three teams will no doubt be offering up prayers to the weather gods tonight for sufficient wind for one final race to decide the remaining podium placings tomorrow.
For the past few Quarter Ton Cups Pierre Paris’s Pinguin Playboy has ruled the roost in the Corinthian (all amateur) Division, and yesterday it started to look like 2018 might follow the same pattern, but today she discovered she has some serious competition on her hands. Robbie Stewart’s Hellaby claimed race five from Pinguin Playboy by nine seconds, whilst in race 6 she found herself pushed down into fourth behind Jan Thirkettle’s Olivia Anne VI, Hellaby and Edward White’s Joker. Hellaby then won race seven from Olivia Anne VI and Joker and once again Pinguin Playboy had to be content with fourth. But in race eight Pierre and his team found their form again to win by fourteen seconds from Hellaby with Olivia Anne third. Overall this means that, going into the final race, Pinguin Playboy hangs onto the Corinthian lead by a single point from Hellaby with Olivia Anne VI in third and Joker fourth.
But the Revival Quarter Ton Cup is about more than just racing results. Anyone who has ever raced a Quarter Tonner will tell you just how much fun the boats are and what wonderful histories so many of them have. A lot of those sailing this week have returned to the class having first raced Quarter Tonners back in their heyday of the 1970s and 80s, and we have several teams vying for the trophies for the oldest combined crew age and the oldest bowman. The camaraderie is incredible, the banter at the bar is hillarious and level of support amongst the crews, particularly for any new teams joining the fleet, is heart-warming. The age range is also impressive with a number of much younger crews getting in to the Quarter Tonners because they realise that the class offers them some of the best racing they will find at surprisingly low cost. It’s also great to see that the Quarter Tonners are an equal opportunities fleet with all girl crews like Louise Morton’s taking on the boys on a level playing field and many mixed crews.
This evening the teams are enjoying a well-deserved night off after a punishing eight races over two days and tomorrow everyone will be hoping for sufficient wind to complete one final race to decide the series. Regardless of the conditions, one thing we can guarantee is that the regatta will close tomorrow evening with the infamous Quarter Ton Cup Gala Dinner and Prize Giving, which this year is being held in the Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre, with special guest and Class Patron Bob Fisher in attendance.