#antix – Irish Commodore Cuppers are in the frame on the Solent as the RORC British IRC National Championship goes into its third and final day with fickle conditions but stronger than those encountered at the Irish IRC Championships being sailed at the same time on Dublin Bay.
Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix, is the new leader after the second day of racing.
The Eastern Solent provided a fascinating combat zone as Mike Bartholomew's South African GP42, Tokoloshe, slipped to second place, four points off the lead. Marc Glimcher's American Ker 40, Catapult, had an excellent day on the water, climbing to third place by virtue of two bullets and a second, beaten by Antix by just 17 seconds. There were podium finishes today for Harmen de Graaf's Dutch Ker 40, Baraka GP, and Stewart Whitehead's Farr 45, Rebel.
A fickle northerly breeze at the start provided shifty conditions before clocking east and building to a solid 15 knots of pressure. During the final race a massive rain squall brought a short sharp intensity to the final race with over 20 knots of wind and driving rain, testing the endurance of the teams. The second day of the championship was full of incident and intense boat-on-boat action. The teams that handled their yachts well, in close quarters and rapidly changing conditions, were the outstanding performers of the day.
Catapult's Boat Captain, Geoff Ewenson from Annapolis USA, spoke about the tactics for the second race of the day. "The tide was building, across the course from east to west and getting the wrong side of that was not a good option. Even though there was more breeze down tide, we stayed high and that kept us in good shape. The same was true for the tight reach past Lee on Solent. The northerly breeze was being affected by breeze from the east and a significant wind hole was developing. Once again we stayed high to avoid being headed in light air. With clear air we were able to sail faster than the competition and extend our lead."
The new leader, after six highly competitive races, is Jim Macgregor's British Elan 410, Premier Flair, pushing yesterday's leader, Kevin Miller's Scottish First 40, Zephyr into second place, just three points off the lead. Adam Gosling's Corby 36, Yes!, had a highly successful day, winning two of today's races to move up to third. There were podium finishes for Corby 37, Aurora, sailed by Roderick Stuart, Peter Morton's JND 35, Salvo, and Paul McNamara &Tony Lowes's First 40.7, Incognito. Richard Patrick's First 40, Dusty P, won the last race of the day by just two seconds.
Jim Macgregor, owner of Premier Flair, has been joined this weekend by his daughter Kate, who represented Great Britain at the London Olympic Games, and members of the Poole Yacht Club Youth programme. "It is always great to sail with my family and Kate was working the bow yesterday. We have a number of youngsters on the boat, some only 16 years old, which brings the average age down! After a long day yesterday, today was always going to be a test of endurance and it ended with four of us going around the leeward mark together, trying to drop spinnakers in a rain squall packing 26 knots, so it was quite a finale. We are delighted to be in the lead but tomorrow should be an interesting day."
David Franks British JPK 10.10, Strait Dealer, retained the class lead with three podium finishes today including a win in Race Six, but the best performer today was James Chalmers' J/35, Bengal Magic, which won the first race of the day and followed up the victory with two second places. Willem Shopman's Bashford 36, Intention, scored their first win of the championship, taking Race Five by just 11 seconds and promoting the Dutch team to third place. Strait Dealer has a net points score of just nine after six races, the lowest of any yacht racing at the regatta.
Graham Sunderland, a Solent tide expert, is navigator for Strait Dealer. "I have never seen such a mixture of mud and clear water on the east end of the plateau before and it produced highly unusual effects, with that wind direction and tidal flow. Race Officer Stuart Childerley and his team did a sensational job - full marks for the courses today. The Strait Dealer team were also great today; with excellent boat handling skills, it makes strategy so much easier."
Ian Southworth's Quarter Tonner, Whiskers, had an excellent start to the day, nailing the pin end of the line to win Race Four by a big margin. However a collision in Race Five damaged the rig to such an extent that Whiskers can no longer race. Peter Morton's Half Tonner, Swuzzlebubble, retains the class lead. Giovanni Belgrano's Whooper revelled in the heavy conditions in Race Six to score her first win of the championship and are currently just three points off the lead. Whiskers is lying in third place, however a request for redress may alter the situation.
Racing continues this morning for the final day of the RORC IRC National Championship with three more races scheduled before the overall and class champions will be decided.