Hard work in light airs pays off for The Dog’s!

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This year, a light to moderate easterly promised better things to come and the fleet got away to a good start, shortly before 9 o’clock, on a short beat to a windward mark laid in St Aubin’s bay.

Allen Brown and partners’ Melges 24, The Dogs!, set a cracking pace from the start, leading the pack to the mark for a port rounding.

Adding spectacle to the event, the beautiful Volvo Ocean 60, Challenge of Dexia, skippered by Ross Field, followed hot on her heels with Simon Benest and partner’s Moist and Wet close behind.

A short downwind run to the Diamond buoy provided the first opportunity for spinnakers to make their colourful appearance before being dropped as boats rounded to come on the wind to begin an eight-mile beat to the Violet Channel buoy.

Challenge of Dexia led around the Diamond and quickly headed off with the two Melges in hot pursuit.

With the ‘flyers’ well away, the pack cross-tacked south-eastwards towards the distant buoy with Neil Maclachlan’s Tsunami quickly pulling through the fleet as he sailed away after the leading boats.

Malcolm Coles’ big catamaran, Swift 1, led the Class Two fleet, sailing a shorter course eastwards, not being required to negotiate the notorious tidal rip at the Violet Channel buoy.

The run up the east coast saw most of the fleet flying their spinnakers once again, on a somewhat shy reach.

Those choosing to sail higher before the hoist benefited greatly from being able to sail freer towards the north-east of the Island, particularly as the wind fell away.

However, with a strong west-going tide along the north coast boats made steady progress with crews concentrating on making the most of every fickle puff.

The ultimate frustration came for several crews as they sat helpless, while their boats pirouetted just off Grosnez Point at the mercy of the tide and the few zephyrs.

Conditions in St Ouen’s Bay were marginally better as, in very light westerly airs and with a continuing favourable tide, boats made fair progress towards La Corbière.

The tidal gate at Corbière, as ever, was unkind to the leaders, and crews that had earlier lost sight of the front runners, on rounding Grosnez, spotted Challenge of Dexia, the Melges and Tsunami away down at Corbière, seemingly parked in the tide.

The gentle nature of the race, although littered with spi hoists and drops, continued along the south coast as boats gracefully sailed the final leg towards the finishing line in the small roads.

Challenge of Dexia took line honours, finishing four minutes ahead of The Dogs, with Moist and Wet just one minute later.

Tsunami sailed well to finish just 14 minutes later whilst Swift 1 was the first boat home in Class 2.

Two sport-catamarans started the race but a retirement off Gorey left Don Thompson’s Vela Bianca to win the class having sailed for just under nine hours.

Challenge of Dexia won the British Airways Speedbird Trophy for the fastest elapsed time around the Island while The Dogs won the Guinness Trophy for Sport-boats.

In Class One, it was Rob Jenkins’ Egythene 24, Van Diemen, that carried the day winning the Jesse Boot trophy, on handicap, from Geoffrey Fisher’s Paper Tiger and Tsunami.

Nick Bailhache’s Filipene won Class 2 and the Cabot memorial trophy from Julian Barber’s Valhalla and Karl Vallois’ Loric.Bob Little, of British Airways, presented the prizes at a reception in the RCIYC following the race.The next event in the RCIYC’s programme is the combined yacht clubs’ Jersey Regatta from 5 to 7 September.

Entry forms are available at all clubs and on the event web site, www.rciyc.org.

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