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Coutts Quarter Ton Cup - Nail biting action on Day 2

by Royal Corinthian Yacht Club on 17 Jul 2013
2013 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup - Day two Catch,GBR 502, © Paul Wyeth / pwpictures.com http://www.pwpictures.com
The best way to describe the action on day two of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup in Cowes would be nail biting. Once again the fleet was given a three-hour postponement to allow the sea breeze to fill in and shortly after 14.30 the first of three races, races five to seven of the series, got underway in 8-10 knots from 245 degrees on a 0.8 mile windward/leeward course over the Bramble Bank.

After yesterday, when a different boat won each race, today's story couldn't have been more of a contrast with Louise Morton's Espada taking the victor's laurels in all three races. That said she most certainly didn't have it all her own way and her winning margins were just 52 seconds, 15 seconds and an unbelievably close 2 seconds!


In race five Espada got a wonderful start to lead the fleet at the first mark by a couple of boat lengths with Willy McNeill & Mike Pascall's Illegal Immigrant, Richard Fleck's Per Elisa, Diarmuid Foley's Anchor Challenge and Rob Gray's Blackfun hard on her heels. Louise and her team kept their cool and did a masterful job of controlling the situation to retain their lead all the way to the line. Blackfun took second with Illegal Immigrant third, Anchor Challenge fourth and Ian Southworth's Whiskers fifth. Overnight leader Rickard Melander and his team aboard Alice II filled sixth place.


The start of race six was undoubtedly won by David Thomas Jr's Sergeant Pepper who judged the line and her approach beautifully and shot out ahead of the fleet. Sergeant Pepper is a Coutts Quarter Ton Cup stalwart and she has been helmed by three generations of the Thomas family in that time. The boat is a 1984 Bolero Mk II designed by David Thomas Sr who took the helm in her first revival Quarter Ton Cup outings. David's son Richard then took on driving duties for a number of years and now we are delighted to welcome Richard's son David Thomas Jr as Sergeant Pepper's new helm.


Despite their great start, Sergeant Pepper struggled to hold off the larger boats in today's light airs (the regatta encompasses boats built to all three iterations of the Quarter Ton rule so vary in size quite considerably and race under IRC to level the playing field) and she went on to finish eighth in the race. Ahead of her Espada was once again leading, but this time it was Ashley Curtis, sailing Peter Morton's Bullit, who gave her the closest challenge, with Illegal Immigrant claiming her second third place of the day by only four seconds from Alice II in fifth.


Racing is always incredibly tight in the Quarter Ton Class, but even by their standards race seven was a humdinger. It had been nip and tuck all the way round the course and as they came down the final run Espada, Bullit, Olivia Dowling's Catch, Alice II, Whiskers and Blackfun were absolutely neck and neck. The final approach to the line was crucial and Espada, Bullit and Catch just managed to edge their noses out from the pack as they crossed, but it was so close that only those directly on the line could decide the finish order. Ultimately it was confirmed that Espada had crossed two seconds in front of Bullit with Catch just one second behind. On corrected time Espada won by two seconds from Bullit but Alice II had done just enough to pip Catch for third place with Whiskers in fifth - not bad for a boat sailing with borrowed sails and a crew whose injury list going into the regatta included three sets of broken ribs, one broken finger and one ripped bicep!


In the overall standings the discard has now come into play and thanks to today's stellar performance Louise Morton and Espada have jumped into an eight-point lead from Rickard Melander's Alice II. Ashley Curtis is doing an excellent job of keeping on the right side of father-in-law Peter Morton by moving Bullit up into third place and onto equal points with Ian Southworth's Whiskers, who claim fourth on countback. Willie McNeil and Mike Pascall's Illegal Immigrant is in fifth, 14.5 points adrift of Espada and sixth place and first Corinthian team is held by Pierre Paris and his crew from France sailing Pinguin Playboy.


Speaking after sailing Louise felt that her success this year is down to being more relaxed. 'Last year I really wanted to win, we'd trained very hard and put a huge amount of effort into our preparation and I think I was just too wound up going into the event. This year we've been much more relaxed and I think that's shown in our results. We've just got to stay cool for one more day - which is a lot easier said than done in this fleet!'


This evening the crews are enjoying the traditional Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Gala Dinner at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club where the guest speaker is Paul Larsen. Paul is the fastest sailor on the planet, whose record breaking speed in Vestas Sailrocket 2 is 75.32 mph over a 500m course with a peak speed of 78.26 mph. Paul was introduced by double Olympic Gold Medallist and TV presenter Shirley Robertson, who also presented the daily prizes.


One of the boats being specially honoured at the Gala Dinner is Paul Treliving's Odd Job, a 1973 Stephen Jones design which celebrates her 40th birthday this month. Odd Job was built for celebrated yachting journalist Jack Knights and was one of the first to really exploit the IOR rule. Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Patron Bob Fisher, who sadly cannot be with us tonight as he is unavoidably detained by some little regatta in San Francisco, sailed on the boat regularly and Paul's love affair with her started in 1984 when he and Peter Morton purchased her as a wreck and completely restored her. Interestingly when the boat was first built it had non-overlapping jibs and swept back spreaders - something that today's young sailors no doubt view as 'the latest thinking'! Paul and Morty won the British Quarter Ton Championship with Odd Job 1984 and also added her name to the illustrious list engraved on the Golden Roman Bowl, presented to the overall winner of the Round The Island Race. Paul then sold the boat and she passed to well known East Coast sailor Nigel Theadom and then to Ray Nash who eventually laid her up in Hamble. Paul was one of the founding members of the revival Quarter Ton movement and having repurchased Odd Job he had her completely refitted by Casse Tete and she remains in concours d'elegance condition.


Perhaps the best thing about the Quarter Ton Class is its camaraderie and the warm welcome that is always extended to friends old and new. This year's new faces include Geoff Gritton and his team from Brightlingsea on the East Coast sailing Panic. Geoff first sailed Panic in 1986 and always wanted to own her. In October 2011 his dream came true and since then he has poured many hours of love into the boat including a major refit last winter. Richard Fleck has returned to racing after several decades (those of a certain age will remember him as the owner of the One Tonner Summer Wine) thanks to the draw of the Quarter Tonners and now owns Per Elisa. Terence Dinmore was a Quarter Ton owner of many years standing until he sold Anchor Challenge to Peter Morton, a decision he regrets so much that he has purchased Captain Moonlight so that he no longer has to miss out! Runaway Bus is a familiar sight at this regatta but is now sailing under the new ownership of Tom Hill. There are also two boats joining the event for the first time in the shape of Eric Reynolds' Magnum Evolution, whose designer Julian Everitt is on the crew as trimmer, and the 1992 Tony Castro designed Bad Toad, now owned by Paul Roberts and Jo and Sarah Assael.

The regatta concludes tomorrow and with a forecast for very light winds. The Race Committee has already announced that AP over 2 will be flying meaning an earliest start time of 13.00, and with a latest start cut off time of 14.30 the fleet has its fingers crossed that at least one more race will be possible.

Top Five After Seven Races
1. GBR50R, Espada, Louise Morton - 1,3,(7),3,1,1,1 = 10 pts
2. SWE7744, Alice II, Rickard Melander - 3,5,2,1,(6),4,3 = 18 pts
3. FRA7891, Bullit, Ashley Curtis - 4,2,3.5,(9),8,2,2 = 21.5 pts
4. GBR902R, Whiskers, Ian Southworth - 5,(6),1,2,5,5.5,5 = 23.5 pts
5. GBR501, Illegal Immigrant, W McNeill & M Pascall - 2,4,(8),4.5,3,3,8 = 24.5 pts

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