As the Subaru Flying Fifteen World Championship reaches the halfway stage at the National Yacht Club, Dublin Bay delivered another blustery day to complete two more races in the 12-race series.
Early in the morning, the wind was howling but by race 6 start time of 1300 hrs it had moderated to a puffy 14 - 18 knots with a pronounced chop caused by wind against tide.
Race 6 started on the first attempt with a new course configuration of w/l triangle w/l and a short beat to the finish which offered the chance for the fleet to stretch their legs with some fast reaching.
First to show on lap 1 of race 6 was current European champions Hamish Mackay and Andrew Lawson (Royal Thames YC), clearly enjoying the heavier conditions. They led from Richard Lovering / Matt Alvarado (Hayling Is SC) and Andy McKee / Richard Jones (Dovestone SC) rounding in tandem. The usual suspects with GBR sail numbers chased down the run.
McKee / Jones snatched the lead by a whisker at the gate with the Brit pack in close attendance broken up by the rather unusual but pleasant site of Campbell Alexander and crew Dave Herridge (Royal Natal YC) in South Africa.
Despite a number of shifts and a short chop the places remained similar upwind for the second time but then came the long fetch/reach to the wing mark. With a number of competitors choosing between hoisting or two sail reaching then hoisting, places got a bit mixed up. By the time the lead bunch got to the wing mark, the rounding and the following run was a big tussle between Andy Mckee, Hamish Mackay and Richard Lovering. Meanwhile loitering with intent on his own course was three-time world champions Graham Vials and Chris Turner (DRSC).
As the breeze appeared to drop going upwind for the final weather mark rounding Vials / Turner made their move sprinting into a two boat length lead over McKee / Jones with Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett (DWSC) moving into third. Places remained the same on the short hitch to the finish line confirming Vials / Turner’s third race win from 6 races. Mackay / Lawson settled for 4th and Lovering / Alvarado 5th. South Africans Campbell Alexander / Dave Herridge finished an impressive 8th. Lo-cal Irishmen Andy and Rory Martin from Strangford Lough YC had a superb race finishing 14th and best of the Irish Flying Fifteen team.
Campbell Alexander from South Africa on his 8th in Race 6:
“We were up to 4th but we are still learning how to reach! We got a good start and pushed to the right but generally watched the good guys and took the shifts and watched our compass most of the time. We are good upwind but slow downwind generally but we can improve there. We were in with the guys and it was just great fun.”
The second race of the day (R8) was sailed under the same semi-overcast skies and slightly less breeze 14 - 17 knots with a swing to the North causing a quick re-jig of the course marks. On the third attempt under black flag the fleet of 72 Flying Fifteens got underway cleanly.
A new leader appeared at the top mark yet another British boat Ian Pinnell of P&B crewed by Jez White (Hayling Is SC) and more new faces in David McKee and Mal Hartland (Dovestone SC) and Chris Waples and Peter Bannister, also from HISC.
The fleet split on both sides of the course downwind with Graham Vials / Chris Turner and Greg Wells / Andrew Jameson both choosing the inshore route. At the gate Vials and Wells chose well enjoying the better pressure squeezing round the gate in front of the other three British boats.
At the top of the course second time around the leading boats nearly made a big mistake by missing out the spreader mark on their way to the wing mark of the triangle. The long reach turned out to be more of a fetch and again there was indecision about kites or no kites.
By the gate second lap, it was turning into a race between Wells and Vials for the turn home. Rather predictably Vials / Turner found a way to get past Wells / Jame-son on the final beat to take his fourth win of the championship in 7 races. Mackay / Lawson claimed 3rd, Lovering / Alvarado 4th and Pinnell / White 5th.
Australians John Wilson and Matthew Summers from South of Perth YC finished with their best score in the regatta (11th) and fellow Aussies Greg ‘Levo’ Leaver-such sailing with crew Peter ‘Bad Boy’ Barblett sailing their best race for 15th.
Irish sailors Hammy Baker and Peter Chamberlain sailed two great races to finish 16 / 16 clearly enjoying the gutsy conditions and fellow Irishmen Roger Chamberlain and Charlie Horder from Strangford Lough YC finished a solid 17th in R7.
So at the halfway stage of the regatta, Graham Vials / Chris Turner have started to show their class by opening up a 17 point lead with a total of 11 points net. Andy Mckee / Richard Jones are second with 28 points and Nathan Batchelor / Ricky Rigg on 31points.
Hamish Mackay scores a 4 / 3 on the day to move up to 14th overall:
“We are good when the breeze is up because we are quite big so that helps us but in all honesty, we had two good starts today. We were first round in the first race, Graham passed us on the first reach on the second round but it was a good day for us. Pressure was key but in the second race there was a lot of shifts as well and they counted and different patches all over the course so it made it an interesting day.”
Weary sailors came home to beer and snags and a presentation on the 2021 Flying Fifteen World Championship to be hosted by the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in Perth and sailed on the waters of Fremantle on the ocean.
Tuesday is a layday and racing resumes with three races planned with an earlier start time of 1100 hrs on Wednesday.