Day 5 of the 18ft Skiff European International Championship at Six-Fours started under an uncharacteristically leaden sky and 10-12 knot breeze from the south west. Two Australian teams, Slam and Yandoo Sangyong, started the day tied in the lead, but by the end of day six and with 12 races completed, Slam had a clear lead ahead of Pindar with another Brit boat, Ronstan in third.
The race committee, who are showing every intention of giving the fleet as close to the maximum number of races for the series, sounded the first signal for race 11 punctually at 12.00. However their efforts were confounded by an overeager fleet and the general recall was sounded for the first time at the regatta.
On the restart it was the right hand side that paid for a group of boats including Investec Private Banking (Mason Woodworth, Davind Brown, Simon Hamilton), Pindar (Andy Richards, Andrew Fairley, Dave Richards) and Slam (Grant Rollerson, Anthony Young, Tom Partington). The brand new Slam continued to show devastating speed in the building breeze to take the race from Pindar and Investec, followed in by Ronstan (Ian Turnbull, Paul Constable, Alec Mckinlay) and TMF (Jarrod Simpson, Davind Cunningham, Adam Ovington).
The fleet were then quickly dispatched for what should have been race 12, only to have a 90 degree wind shift cause the race officer to abandon the race on the final beat, much to the frustration of Pindar and Ronstan who had read the shift and were about to round the windward mark on to the home run with a large lead over the rest of the fleet when they were sent back. The fleet were then sent ashore to wait for the new breeze to settle. After a short delay AP was dropped and the boats headed out into 8 - 10 knots of north westerly breeze and clearing skies. Race 12 got underway and it was Ronstan who got away to a clear start then headed right to lead into the windward mark.
Closely followed by Wild Oats Chardonnay (Howie Hamlin, Mike Martin and Paul Adam), Yandoo Ssangyong (John Winning, David Gibson, Andrew Hay) and Gill/Wet & Wild (Ed Browne, Mark Tait, Mark Addison). Ronstan followed by Gill/Wet & Wild gybe set to make the most of the continued wind swing and took a clear lead to the leeward mark which they held to the finish in an increasingly one sided race.
Slam got the best results of the day adding a third to their first in the previous race and cementing their place at the top of the leader board. Pindar continued their very consistent form with a fourth and Investec took fifth. The fleet were then sent ashore to await the onset of a forecast mistral wind.
Day six dawned with the mistral in full effect. An 18 knot breeze in the early morning had built to 23 knots by midday and by the time the fleet were due to start the committee boat was unable to lay the start line due to its anchor dragging in the two metre swells and steady 25 knot wind, so racing was abandoned despite the eagerness of at least some of the fleet to try out their small rigs.
So with 12 races sailed and a potential 3 or 4 to sail on the final day all is still to play for for the 18ft Skiff European International Championship title. Only 9 points separate the top three boats in what has been a very hotly competed regatta. In all seven teams have counted at least one race win and neither of the two previous JJ Giltinan Championship winners competing, Howie Hamlin on Wild Oats Chardonnay or John Winning on Yandoo Ssangyong, are currently on the podium. 18ft Skiff - Results (12 races, 2 discards, 18 starters):
1st Slam (AUS) 30pts
2nd Pindar (GBR) 36 pts
3rd Ronstan (GBR) 39 pts
4th Yandoo Ssangyong (AUS) 42pts
5th Wild Oats Chardonnay (US) 43pts