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International Paint Poole Regatta - Day 1

by Chris Jones 30 Apr 13:48 PDT 30 April - 2 May 2022

The opening day of the International Paint Poole Regatta started early with a hive of activity around the yacht clubs of Poole and over on the Quay where the crews of the sixteen classes created a hum of excitement before lines were slipped and Poole Bay beckoned.

With light winds forecast, competitor chatter seemed to focus mainly on the post racing social at Parkstone Yacht Club, though this would have probably been the case light forecast or not! A shout of, "it's picking up" changed the tone back to a more serious racing one. Poole is renowned for its optimal balance of serious racing and laugh-filled socials.

The eleven strong Cape 31 fleet kicked off the regatta with the starting gun bang on time and the fleet heading off on a windward leeward course on the outer most track followed closely by IRC1. A clear divide in strategy saw half the Cape 31 fleet take port and the other starboard tack, with what turned out to create absolutely no advantage at the mark for either, with both groups converging perfectly for the run back down the course. A significant drop in the already light wind resulted in a shortened race and a pause to wait for things to pick up.

A steady sea breeze soon kicked in and despite a significant shift from east to west challenging the race officers and a lumpy swell, the competitors, all four courses out in the bay and one inside the harbour were soon action packed with clusters of spinnakers visible in every direction.

With Poole being round one of the 2022 Cape 31 season, will day one set the tone for the rest of the campaign? Michael Wilson and Vince Hayter's 'Shotgunn' lived up to its name bagging two firsts and a third to seal victory for the day, whilst a consistently creditable performance from Michael Bartholomew's 'Tokoloshe' placed the team second.

The J24 fleet saw 'Cacoon' of Poole YC put in a sterling effort with three first places meaning they top the fleet and 'Majic' of Saltash SC with a foot on each step of the podium placing them second. The yachts competing in the J70 Grand Slam Series saw distinct trends developing with 'Jelvis' of the Island Sailing Club placing first and, with anything but a chaotic racing performance, 'Chaotic' in second. Further down the fleet, the results mean everything is to play for over the next two days.

Consistency was the trend of the day in many classes. In the Sonata class Joe Cross and Russell Wheeler's 'Duette' ended up discarding a first-place finish after leading the fleet all day whilst William Smyth's 'Joey' followed closely along in second. The top three places in the sizeable 2.4mr fleet, who are hosting their Tidal National Championship at Poole, also went to yachts who claimed and hung onto their positions early on. Megan Pascoe on 'Pink and Stormy' had a clean first place sweep, whilst Jonathan Currell on 'No Affiliation' and Bruce Hill's 'The Other Woman' held a grip on second and third respectively.

With the forecast for the rest of the bank holiday weekend being decidedly iffy, it was unanimously decided by all race officers that four races would be run to get out ahead of the weather.

Outside of the one design fleets, the crown for the IRC Southern Area Championship is wide open. IRC 1 sees Poole Regatta veterans Sam and Sophie Pearson aboard 'Ruthless' in first place going into day two, but with close competition from John Howell and Paul Newell on 'Arcus'. IRC 2 sees Poole local Pip Hare racing with Tom Hill aboard Quarter Tonner 'Belinda' at Poole for the first time since her circumnavigation in the Vendee Globe with an incredibly strong team performance to lead the class by some margin.

The Stoneways VPRS class grows year on year and the 2022 National Championship being held at Poole is under fierce contention with two of the biggest fleets at Poole. VPRS 1 is racing on the Eastern most course near Bournemouth Pier with Ed Wiltons' 'Who's Next' currently leading the pack, but with Kevin Cross and John Waters' 'Volante' hot on their tail. A surprisingly swell filled Studland Bay hosted VPRS 2 with a closely matched fleet trading places throughout the day. As it stands Owain Peters' 'Rum Juggernaut' and Keith Lovetts' 'Stoneways QT' hold the top two positions, but the competition is wide open.

Reflecting on the day Andrew Pearce, Poole Regatta President said,

"From a very light weather forecast, we are delighted to have been able to run four races in a gradually building wind. Catching up with competitors out on the water there was a lot of positivity and smiling faces which is always good to see. A great start to the regatta weekend with much more racing to come. Whatever the weather we will be out on the water making the best of it and celebrating back at the clubs in the evening"

Poole Regatta is hosted by the combined yacht clubs of Poole and runs until the 2nd of May. Full results can be found here.

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