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2018 Vice Admiral's Cup Day 2: Tight racing in sparkling conditions

by Rupert Holmes 19 May 2018 22:18 PDT 18-20 May 2018

After a relaxed start, the second day of the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup delivered yet more top-notch racing in bright, sunny weather. With a light east-south-easterly sea breeze established by lunchtime, the first of the day's races got away just after 1300.

The day was characterised by short, sharp races that proved a thorough test of both tactics and boat handling. Tight mark roundings and close finishes, including exact ties, were the order of the day.

The faster boats on the Alpha course had four races, predominately on 1.2-mile long windward-leeward courses. There was much shuffling of positions in the Performance 40 fleet. Emily Bowden-Eyre's King 40 Nifty and Thomas Kneen's JPK11.80 Sunrise each started the day with just three points. However, Nifty was buried at the start of the first race and failed to recover. She then fought back to take two second places plus a win in the penultimate race. This leaves her two points ahead of another King 40, Michael Blair's Cobra, which took three wins today, but also has to count a third and fourth. Sunrise failed to score a podium result in any of today's races, but retains third overall on count back.

The J/109 fleet similarly saw boats yo-yoing up and down the standings. In the first start Christopher Preston's Jubilee was well-placed mid line, while David Richards' Jumping Jellyfish and John Smart's Jukebox were closer to the committee boat, with Jellyfish hitting the line with speed and popping out ahead in clean air.

Simon Perry's Jiraffe, which won all three races yesterday, was buried and tacked away onto port. RNSA's Jolly Jack Tar rounded the windward mark first, along with a gaggle of back markers in the J/111 fleet, with Jubilee following close behind and Jiraffe some six lengths back in third place. Perry continued to climb the fleet on the next lap of the course, to pull out a big lead on Jolly Jack Tar by the second windward mark to win by an impressive margin. John Smart's Jukebox took third place to gain his first podium finish of the event.

In the next race, which was shortened at the leeward gate as the wind swung towards the south-west, saw Roger Phillips' Designstar 2 take the winner's gun, fractionally ahead of Jubilee, with Jumping Jellyfish taking another third.

Jiraffe went on to win the fifth race of the series, but at the start of the longer final race much of the fleet misjudged the strength of the building ebb tide, with the result that a slew of boats, including Jiraffe, were called OCS. Perry was able to discard his fourth in this race, but a win for Christopher Preston's Jubilee puts the two boats only two points apart going into the final day. Speaking from a buoyant after-race party on the dock Preston said: "We had great racing today, in brilliant conditions," and thanked the race team an excellent job in getting the racing away cleanly on both days.

Martin Dent's Jelvis, the 2016 J/111 world champion, had a commanding start to the regatta, winning both races on the first day. Not everything went his way today, but he was generally at the front of the fleet when it mattered, winning three races and taking a second in the other. Hans Zwijnenburg's Sweeny holds a comfortable second place, with a seven-point margin on Chris Jones' Journeymaker ll.

Among the smaller boats, Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner Aguila took an impressive win in the first race of the day in this competitive fleet. Before the start of the next race, his was by far the first boat in the fleet sailing upwind to get the measure of the new south-westerly breeze. William McNeil's Illegal started closest to the committee boat at the tidally favoured end of the line. However, Aguila had more pace just to leeward and popped out ahead in clean air.

Aguila was first round the top mark, four lengths ahead of Catrina Southworth's Whiskers, which in turn was two lengths ahead of a batch of three boats - Tony Hayward's Blackfun, Julian Metherell's Bullit and Louise Morton's Bullet, all of which rounded the spreader mark almost simultaneously. Aguila was never challenged for the lead. Illegal took second place, just ahead of three boats that were separated by only four seconds on corrected time - Whiskers, Blackfun and Bullet.

Morton won the final race of the day by a margin of only four seconds on Whiskers. Aguila took third on corrected time, one second ahead of Illegal and Metherell, who tied for fourth place. This leaves the leaderboard wide open going into the final day, with Whiskers on 11 points, Aguila on 12.5 and Bullet on 13.

The first day of racing for the HP30 class left the top three boats tied on six points. However, Malcolm Wootton's Farr 30 Pegasus Dekmarx dominated today's results, taking line honours in every race, ahead of the higher-rated Farr 280s. Two second places for Glyn Locke's Toucan leaves him four points adrift on 10 points, two ahead of third-placed Jamie Rankin's Pandemonium.

John Pollard's SB20 Xcellent, which won two races yesterday, continued a successful streak, winning the first race today in convincing style, more than a minute ahead of Richard McAdam's Breaking Bad, while Robin Kirby's Carnage took third place, just ahead of Sail Navy. He now leads the fleet counting only race wins, though there's a closer battle for second between McAdam and Tom Clay's Whyaduck, who are on 12 and 15 points respectively.

The Diam 24 trimarans saw significantly tighter racing, with the podium of the final race decided by only 38 seconds. Riccardo Pavoncelli's Gaetana 3 continues to lead overall by a clear margin, but a three-way fight for second place has developed. Jon Hutchings' 3 Wise Monkeys is second on 13 points, Piers Hugh Smith's Team Maverick has 14 and Matthew Muhlenkamp's Deka 17 points.

With six races now completed in the eight race series, the plan for the final day is for one windward leeward race, followed by a round the buoys race.

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