The excitement was visible this morning when the race committee raised the flag signalling to the fleet that they would be sailing on Race Course A today. With a forecast promising a building breeze, the fleet head out of the marina with big grins onboard. Today was going to be exciting, very exciting for the competitors.
With a constant 14 knots at the start of race 1, the fleet got away on the Race Committee's first attempt, to tackle the beat and the rolling waves. Those that started at the Committee Boat end of the line benefitted and the first windward mark rounding order was In Your Pocket (Andrew Oddie), Xcellent (John Pollard) and Spirit of Cape Town (Taariq Jacobs/Roger Hudson). Craig Burlton rounded in 4th position but duly took a penalty turn after the spreader mark which cost him considerably and his finishing position of 8th has now been discarded. The downwind leg produced some of the most fantastic surfing conditions the fleet has ever experienced in the awesome rolling Atlantic swell, well……..that is until races 2 and 3!
David Hudson and the City of Cape Town crew took the bullet in the 1st race of the day. According to David, they had a fantastic start and completed a tidy race with fantastic pace. “We have a great tactician on board in Wandisile Xayimpi (known to the fleet as Waddie), his brain seems to work in the same was a GPS set! He made some fantastic lay-line calls for us today,” praised David. Unfortunately Hudson Senior's luck was about to change. With a collision at the start of race 2 they finished in 14th position but their luck deteriorated further still in race 3.
Following the first attempt to start the 3rd race today the fleet were recalled and the black flag was hoisted for the 2nd attempt. City of Cape Town reached the top mark to discover they had been called over and headed for home. “We were lining up for a great start in the 3rd race, but following a crash with another competitor we thought we had been pushed over the line. This was a really disappointing end to our day as we had to take action to avoid loosing our rig.”
The wind had increased to 18 knots at the start of this race and was heading right in direction too. Again in race 2 the Committee Boat end of the start line was favoured with the pin end all but deserted. The fleet rocketed off the start line and those that took the right hand side of the course certainly benefitted.
By the windward mark, the wind had increased to 22 knots and the fleet was lead by Mike Budd, with Burlton in 4th position. A few boats at the rear of the fleet suffered on their genneker hoists and the Portuguese Women's Sailing Team on Clube Millenium BCP tore their kite to shreds but still managed to complete the race. Sat in a media boat in the middle of the race course, approximately a fifth of the way down the run provided front row seats to some of the most spectacular sailing I have personally ever seen, with crews in the foot straps and white water foaming in all directions, it was quite a spectacle! Race 2 saw Burlton achieve his first bullet of the regatta. At last!
Race 3 got away on the second attempt and following a great start, John Pollard on board Xcellent lead the fleet around the course. Catching up with John and his crew of Rob Smith and Martin Schwartz over a beer at the end of the day, they filled me in on their race. “We have finally got into the groove with this boat,” commented Pollard with a broad beaming smile on his face, “we are delighted to have posted a first after getting around the course in one piece after a great start!” Rob Smith made an excellent job of tactics in the 3rd race. “Cascais is a stunning venue for sailing, the long uphill legs are well worth it for the epic downwind surfing, the waves are incredible!”
The general feeling amongst the fleet this evening is that Race Course A is a better race track, with more stable wind and the fantastic swell, the right hand side of the course paid all day coupled with committee boat starts. The fleet have returned ashore exhausted but happy after a spectacular day of racing in a spectacular venue.
“It amazing that there are not more major sailing events held in Cascais, it is one of the best venues in the world,” explained Andy Rice on the dock, “Today scores a 9 out of 10 and could only be bettered for us on board In Your Pocket if we'd had 3 bullets, then it really would have been a 10 out of 10!”
It really doesn't get much better than this! Racing concludes tomorrow with 2 final races. There are still only 2 points giving Burlton his lead for a 4th night, can he hang onto the gap on the final day….
Full Results can be found at: