by Justin Scott
After six races we are on the verge of something never seen at a major championship regatta in the Viper 640 Class, a perfect game. Flux Panda have scored six bullets in six races.
CORK – Canadian Viper National Championship – EFG Qualifier
With two races to go on Sunday, Flux Panda has already won CORK and scored top quintile points in this round of the EFG Pan American Qualification series. But can Peter Beardsley and Jay Rhame complete the perfect regatta score by pitching another pair of shut out innings tomorrow?
Saturday started with more Chamber of Commerce conditions for Kingston - not a cloud in the sky, air temperatures around 73 degrees. By noon, AP came down and with a 7-knot southwester, hope floated for a build into the teens.
The build never materialized, but with 6-9 knots of wind all day, most classes were able to complete another three races, all twice around, with the start / finish line just 200 yards off the Portsmouth Harbour seawall. In Race 4, Darren Gilbert's Black Sheep found better pressure on the right on the beat to round in first, with 'Flux Panda' only two lengths in front of Ron Schute's team and Kentucky Road Warrior Jeff Danhauer on Wild Turkey.
Gilbert led at the leeward, but the Pandas jumped over the Sheep on the beat by finding a puff and favorable shift on the left, holding on for the win. Sheep finished second, and Schute and Wild Turkey had a tight finish after a late gybing duel.
The breeze began to build for Race 5 to hiking conditions, and teams tightened rigs in anticipation of more wind. Flux Panda led wire to wire in tricky conditions that never built as promised. Sheep and Schute were on their games again, battling for the second spot and top quintile points for Miami. Schute had a big gain on the final run gybing out early in a lefty to sail around Sheep, the Rowlinson Brothers on Grendel and Wild Turkey to take the two. Race 6 had similar conditions, with the Pandas getting off the line clean and sailing conservatively in the oscillating shifts, with Schute and Steve Chapman taking the final two podium spots, with Grendel edging out Gilbert by a quarter length at the line.
With only two more races scheduled, Flux Panda has clinched the Regatta win but the battle for Canadian National champions will be determined in a Sunday dogfight, with Gilbert only two points ahead of Schute and a number of others close behind.