Today saw another fabulous day of tight racing for the 24 teams in the 2014 Dragon Edinburgh Cup supported by Aberdeen Asset Management. The sun shone, while the fresh, unstable north-north westerly breeze ensured plenty of place changing.
Rumours, Aimee, Tigger and Louise rounded the final leeward gate only a few seconds apart, with Rumours and Aimee taking the left-hand buoy, tacking a few minutes later and hooking into a favourable shift. Near the finish Aimee pulled clear to win by 19 seconds.
After four races this is a high scoring regatta for all but Graham and Julia Bailey, Will Heritage and Keith Tippell on Aimee. With just five points, they lead the Open division by nine points and the Corinthian fleet by 13. Lawrie Smith remains second in the Open division and Ted Sawyer third, while Mark Wade is the second Corinthian and Eric Williams third.
Today’s very shifty offshore wind, which oscillated through more than 40 degrees, and varied from 10 knots in the lulls to more than 20 in the gusts, tested competitors in a different way to earlier races in the event. This allowed more boats to come to the fore including Grant Gordon’s Louise, Quentin Strauss’s Rumours and Tom Vernon’s Excite all of which clearly revelled in the conditions. Eleven teams have now scored at least one top five result.
The first start sequence today was interrupted by a short postponement, as a big windshift necessitated resetting both the line and the windward mark. At the restart, the fleet got away cleanly, apart from Mike Holmes’ Hands Off, who underestimated the tidal stream pushing the fleet towards the pin.
Lawrie Smith, Graham and Julia Bailey, and Quentin Strauss started towards the pin and were first to tack on to port, with the rest of the fleet following shortly afterwards. The Baileys and Smith then tacked back onto starboard, staying mid course, with Smith a few lengths behind. Around halfway up the beat Graham and Julia split to the right, at one time becoming the furthest right boat by a large margin. However, it was not a move that paid off and Smith was first round the top mark, followed 10 seconds later by Gordon, and three seconds later by Strauss. The Baileys were fourth to round, with a significant deficit to make up on Smith.
By the leeward gate Smith had extended his lead, with the Baileys now more than a minute behind. With the tide setting boats onto the right hand buoy there was some tight action here, with plenty to keep crews busy as the main pack piled into the gate with numerous boats overlapped.
On the second beat the fleet once again split fairly evenly across the race course – Roger Wilson’s team from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club again did an excellent job of repositioning the top and bottom marks such that each leg was as free of bias as possible.
Despite the vagaries of the wind, the front runners had closed up at the second windward mark, with Gordon again rounding first, followed five seconds later by Smith, and the Baileys a similar distance further back. On the final run the two front-runners for the overall title were neck and neck, while an early gybe by Strauss saw him gain ground on the top three boats.
By the time they reached the final leeward gate the tussle between the four boats could not have been closer. However, they split on the final beat, with the Baileys and Strauss initially going to the right in a move that saw both cross comfortably ahead of Smith two-thirds of the way up towards the finish.
Ted Sawyer, who placed second yesterday’s light conditions yesterday, was seventh at the final leeward gate, but took the disadvantaged right hand mark and had lost seven places by the finish. However, he remains third overall on countback, tied on 30 points with Mark Wade.