16 June 2016 – Cowes, UK – After the opening day's blustery conditions, day two of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup produced a distinct change of pace. Racing was initially postponed for two hours to allow the breeze to fill in and when it did it was accompanied by regular bands of squally rain, plenty of wind shifts and a very strong flood tide. It was certainly a day that gave the navigators and tacticians plenty to think about, and with the breeze constantly up and down the trimmers were also on overtime changing gears.
Fortunately, even steely skies and rain can't dampen the spirits of the Quarter Ton fleet and the 26 boats put on a spectacular display of bow to bow racing over four windward leeward races, races four to seven of the nine race series. After racing Annie Lush, who is trimming aboard Louise Morton's Bullit, summed up the day perfectly saying “It was a great day's racing. With the increasingly strong tide, missing even the smallest shift could cost you places and as a result almost every boat in the fleet had a least one moment of glory. With three different race winners and some incredibly close finishes, including three corrected time dead heats, the regatta is still wide open going into the final day.” Asked for the secret of Bullit's success Annie was unequivocal; “Tea and cake! The boys all head to the bar after racing, but we love nothing better than a decent cup of tea and some home-made cake. It was lemon drizzle today and it was delicious!”
In the overall standings Bullit continue to lead the regatta by just 1.5 points. After yesterday's ribbing for broaching five times, Etchells World Champion Oscar Strugstad at the helm of Blackfun clearly had something to prove, putting in the best performance of the day with two wins, a second and a joint fifth (with Richard Fleck's Per Elisa in race five), and jumping from fifth overall into second. Sam Laidlaw and his Aquila crew also sailed very solidly and although they have dropped from second to third overall, they are only half a point behind Blackfun. Ian Southworth's Whiskers found the lighter conditions a little less to their liking and drop down one place to fourth overall, 6.5 points behind Aquila. With two further races remaining to sail on the final day the regatta really will go down to the wire.
The Bullit girls may still be leading but they didn't have it all their own way today. Things got off to a tricky start thanks to an unforced error at the first mark of race four. They were on the final approach on starboard when Ben Daly helming Cobh Pirate pushed his luck just a little too far and barged into the layline on port. Louise was forced to avoid a collision and the strong foul tide dragged her back below the layline. By the time she had extricated herself she had lost five places and went on to finish tenth. Things looked up in races five and six where they finished second and first respectively, but disaster struck again in race seven. They opted to start at the pin end of the line, but ran out of runway and hooked the mark so had to release themselves before they could go round again. Later in the race their jib halyard broke meaning bare headed mark roundings which lost them more valuable time. They finished the race in eleventh place which now becomes their discard.
After an otherwise slightly lacklustre day, including their penalty turns in race four after the incident with Bullit, Cobh Pirate sailed an absolute blinder to win race seven. They spotted a big shift on the second beat and took full advantage, leapfrogging over the main pack and sailing beautifully consistently to hold their corrected time lead all the way to the finish.
In the Corinthian Division Pierre Paris and his team of Frenchmen aboard Pinguin Playboy added three more first places to their score card, making six out of seven wins so far. Their only slip up was in race four where they had to be content with a fourth place. They now lead the Corinthian Division by an impressive 14 points from Simon Smith at the helm of Robbie Stewart's Hellaby. Whilst Pinguin Playboy must be feeling fairly confident of victory in the division the battle for the remaining Corinthian podium places will be fierce. Both on 21 points and just a single point behind Hellaby lie George Webb's Flashheart and Duke Darge in Phoenix with Rob Mclean's Spider Pig one further point back in fifith. This group have enjoyed some fantastic battles already this regatta and so can expect a really good fight for the Corinthian podium too.
Piers Hugh Smith and his crew aboard Magnum Evolution are leading the Low Rating Division by a comfortable cushion of nine points from Flashheart, who is a single point ahead of Spider Pig, the lowest rated boat in the regatta, with Phil Cook's Purple Haze in fourth, just three points behind them.
The forecast for tomorrow's final day is currently hard to predict. There will be even stronger foul tide and with the possibility of another late start and very light winds all fingers are crossed that Rob Lamb and his Royal Yacht Squadron Racing team can finish the excellent job they started by delivering the two remaining races.