by Mary Devries
The continuation of the highly competitive Canada’s Cup match race sailing competition was delayed this morning due to weather. An early morning thunderstorm passed through the area, keeping boats at the dock until noon. Team Heritage of Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Holland, Michigan and Team Vincere of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto, Canada both headed out to the race course along with numerous spectator boats around noon. Team Heritage was intent on erasing their one race deficit while Team Vincere was focused on extending their lead in this best of nine series.
Canada’s Cup 2011
After waiting for the wind to settle in, the race committee set the course and the pre-start sequence began. Vincere and Heritage engaged in a tacking duel on the first beat to the top mark, to try and gain an advantage. Vincere perservered and had a strong lead around the mark, heading downwind with over a minute lead on Heritage.
The wind decreased on the downwind leg, leaving both boats close to drifting and ultimately taking down their spinnakers and hoisting their jibs. Match racing rules require the race to conclude within two and a half hours and everyone was wondering if the race would conclude in time and whether further racing would be delayed. After awhile, Heritage was able to leverage a growing breeze from astern, giving them a lift toward Vincere, who was in the lead prior to the breeze shutting off. Heritage nipped Vincere for a small lead at the leeward mark and Vincere attacked aggressively, forcing Heritage to cover them in a tacking duel to the third mark. Heritage maintained the lead, crossing just ahead of Vincere to be first to round the mark.
Both boats headed to finish line, with Vincere aggressively attacking at Heritage’s lead. Vincere gybed away, with Heritage deciding not to cover, leaving the boats coming into finish on opposing tacks. Vincere crossed the line first by approximately five seconds, extending their overall lead to three wins and one loss.
The second and last race of the day, match race number five, was a critical race for Heritage to keep the series within reach. The competitors split tacks at the start, with Vincere edging Heritage at the first windward mark. Heritage and Vincere rounded together at the second mark, with Heritage gaining a small lead on the downwind leg. Heritage went into defense mode for the balance of the race, covering Vincere, who continued to attack aggressively. Heritage increased their lead to one minute at the third mark, and won the race by a final margin of two minutes. Vincere now leads the series by one point, with three wins and two losses.
Racing will continue tomorrow at 10:30am. Both teams are anxious to conclude this highly competitive series tomorrow. The first boat to win five races will win the Canada’s Cup.