The third day of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup, supported by Aberdeen Asset Management and hosted by Royal Lymington YC, delivered fickle winds with a mix of showers and sunny spells for race three of the series.
Boats on the right hand side of the first beat gained an advantage they would hold until the finish, although the final beat saw a diminishing breeze that threatened to upset the order of the front runners. Graham and Julia Bailey nevertheless maintained their lead, finishing 12 seconds ahead of 81-year-old American visitor Ted Sawyer. Mark Wade, followed by Jenny Stutley, were next to finish, with Lawrie Smith, overall leader at the start of the day, having to settle for sixth.
Halfway through the regatta the Baileys lead both Open and Corinthian divisions, by five and nine points respectively. Smith is second overall in the Open division and Sawyer third, while Wade is the second Corinthian helm and Simon Barter third.
After a 15 minute postponement, the fleet got away today on the first start in 6-7 knots of west-southwesterly breeze. However, no one responded to the individual recall at the start and three boats – Tom Veron’s Excite, Grant Gordon’s Louise and Quentin Strauss’ Rumours were scored OCS.
Before long the fleet was spread across the first beat, with boats hitting both corners and all experiencing big shifts and holes. However, the defining feature of this leg was a big right-hand windshift that strongly favoured those on the right hand side of the course. In a slow-motion rounding of the windward mark, the furthest right boat, Chime ll, owned by a newcomer to helming Dragons, Jenny Stutley, led by 20 seconds at the windward mark, to a huge cheer from the boats nearby.
Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee was second to round, 25 seconds ahead of Sawyer. There was then a large gap before Mark Wade’s Avalanche and Japanese visitor Bocci Aoyama’s Yevis ll rounded the weather mark together, with Martin Makey’s Ganador just a couple of lengths astern. To what extent did luck play a part in the gains made by the boats on the right? Not at all according to Martin “Stavros” Payne, one of Sawyer’s crew. “All the clouds were on the right hand side of the course, so we always wanted to be on that side of the fleet,” he says. “We started closest to the committee boat, then tacked onto port with Graham Bailey a little after the start.”
Most of the first run saw the fleet gybing through big angles. The Baileys were first to gybe onto port, making a useful gain on Stutley, before then gybing back onto starboard and sailing high towards a band of increased wind near a shower cloud. As they approached the leeward gate for the first time Sawyer was also very well placed, having apparently sailed lower than the Baileys and Stutley, while still maintaining good speed.
The leaders split at the gate, with the Baileys turning left just five seconds before Sawyer rounded the right-hand mark. The rest of the leading pack followed the Baileys, with the exception of Lawrie Smith’s Tigger, who by now had climbed to sixth place after a disappointing first beat. On the second beat, with the wind now at 10-15 knots, the Baileys manoeuvred themselves into a commanding position from which they were effectively covering the top five boats. On the final run both the Baileys and Sawyer extended their lead on the pack, while Wade closed the gap on Stutley and Smith continued to climb through the fleet.
The final beat saw the wind reduce, with bigger shifts that threatened to upset the order of the front-runners and, had it not been for an unfavourable windshift close to the finish, Sawyer might have won the race. However, the Baileys maintained their lead, approaching the finish on the port layline, with a 12 second advantage. Wade was next across the line, more than two and a half minutes later, followed by Stutley in fourth place.
Unfortunately, the second race of the day, for the Chairman’s Decanter series, had to be abandoned when the wind finally failed to cooperate.