'Swan River champagne sailing'
On day two of the Prince Philip Cup - Australasian Dragon Championship, the ‘Freo Doctor’ started to blow early in the day and signs were that the 26 Dragons would be faced with another day of thrills and spills. By the time of the warning signal at 1500 hrs, the white caps were out and a steady 20 knots of breeze blowing from 210 degrees set the scene for more champagne Dragon racing.
The morning scene on the decks of the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club was one of boat repairs but to their credit, all but two Dragons were back on the water for race 2 of the Prince Philip Cup.
Gordon Ingate (Whimsical) delivered another class in pin end starts speeding off the line like a butcher’s dog. The majority of the fleet headed out left into the middle of the Swan River as the breeze was a little less shifty than in the past few days.
Rob Campbell (Linnea) and Tommy Muller (Sinewave) persisted with the left side of the track and looked good until the last 100m of the first leg when the master with his able crew, big David Jiles and Brad Sheridan, crossed to inch round the windward mark with a narrow lead. Rounding fourth and punching well above his weight was Robert Alpe from NSW sailing Indulgence.
The downwind legs were a bit steadier than the previous day but there was still plenty of opportunity for some wild broaches. At the bottom gate, the lead pair, Gordon Ingate’s Whimsical and Rob Campbell’s Linnea chose opposite gate marks rounding simultaneously.
AUS109 Peter Bowman - Jonny Fullerton
Behind there was a good scrap between Andrew Foulkes (Tatsu), who was still tuning his new mast after his forced retirement yesterday, and Peter Bowman’s Aeolus and Rob Black’s Nereus.
By the second top mark rounding the two lead boats had pulled out a big gap on the fleet but the battle of the silver haired skippers was about to intensify.
Topping lift repairs on AUS210 - Jonny Fullerton
Rob Campbell rounded barely two boat lengths in arrears but a snag with his topping lift meant a trip up the mast for Dragon Class Secretary, John Low, a tricky manoeuvre in any conditions!
However by the second gate rounding, Gordon Ingate lead by a mere 15 seconds. This classic battle would continue for the next lap as the lead changed hands several times up the third upwind leg.
At the bottom gate on the final rounding the lead was down to one boat length and the legend that is Gordon Ingate would have to dip into all the tools from his 1977 Americas Cup racing experience to keep the man from Burnham on Crouch in England at arm’s length.
Spectators onboard the motor launches drew breath each time the two protagonists crossed tacks as the lead continued to change hands. But alas the master delivered his final lesson in covering his opponent and planted his final tack on his bow to lead him over the finish line by a boat length.
A gentlemans tipple - Jonny Fullerton
Back on shore, Gordon poured a jar of whiskey to share with his compatriot to celebrate a truly great show of Dragon racing. (A gentleman's tipple)
Meanwhile further down the track, Tommy Muller (GER) had sailed a great race to cross the line third only to discover he had been called OCS at the start.
Also having a bad day was Willy Packer (Scoundrel) who returned at the start thinking he was over, then having sailed through the fleet to within meters of the finish line when his mainsail halyard appeared to fail. He still limped over in seventh.
Masterclass finish - Jonny Fullerton
A good comeback for Andrew Foulkes (Tatsu) to grab third and a sterling performance by Peter Bowman to claim fourth in his 50 year old wooden boat Aeolus.
The ‘Mug of the Day’ award again attracted a number of candidates but was awarded to Tim Cummins onboard John Anderson’s Achernar who went forward on the bow to fix a problem when his life jacket inflated around his neck rendering him deaf to his skipper’s tactics. However it didn’t seem to affect their performance as they crossed sixth!
After two days of classic Perth sailing conditions, the early start time of 0830 hrs for day three of the Prince Philip Cup on Sunday is forecast for much lighter Easterly's.
Rounding windward mark - Jonny Fullerton
The Prince Philip Cup continues to Thursday 9th January, organized by the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in conjunction with the West Australian International Dragon Association.
Results (top five after two races)
1 AUS217 Gordon Ingate/David Jiles/Brad Sheridan - 2, 1, 3pts
2 AUS210 Robert Campbell/John Moncrieff/John Low/James Stout - 1,2, 3pts
3 AUS214 William Packer/Denis Cullity/Julian Harding - 3,7, 10pts
4 AUS160 John Anderson/Tim Cummins/Matthew Wilson - 4,6, 10pts
5 AUS109 Peter Bowman/Jenny Fitzhardinge/David Hay - 7,4, 11pts
For full results, click here
by Jonny Fullerton
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3:49 PM Sat 4 Jan 2014GMT
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