Champagne Conditions Create Smiles All Round

Portland may have its rough edges, and not just those of a geological nature, but together with its sister town of Weymouth, it put on its Sunday best to welcome the 140 boats competing in the SAP 505 World Championships.  With just the one race scheduled, with a start time of 1300, the crews had plenty of time for polishing and tweaking in brilliant sunshine while eagerly contemplating the gradually building breeze.
 
By the time the fleet got to the race track in east Weymouth Bay, the course was being swept by a solid 12 - 14kt breeze from the south west.  After the starting shenanigans of the previous day, the fleet fell in with the mood created by the near perfect setting and put on its best behaviour, giving the pathfinder Mike Quirk and Reeve Dunne (AUS) a clear run.   As the pack advanced up the course the British boats of Mark Upton Brown and Ian Mitchell (9174) and Ian Pinnell and Alex Davies (9163) started to emerge at the front.  At the first mark it was Upton Brown and Mitchell that just prevailed over Pinnell and Davies.  Pinnell decided on an earlier gybe and, sailing a little deeper than Upton Brown and Mitchell, broke through to take the lead.  Taking a different tactic, the USA pair of Mike Martin and Adam Lowry went for maximum speed by reaching high into the right hand corner which got them close to the two British boats at the leeward gate.
 
On the next upwind leg the British boats both went left, while Martin and Lowry went right.  The British boats were vindicated when they rounded the top mark still ahead of the American pair.  By now all three had opened up a commanding lead over the rest of the fleet and it was clear that the contest for top honours was now a closed shop.  The wind was still building and the boats set off on the reaching leg in a coruscating display of spray, sparkle and speed against the azure backcloth.  Martin and Lowry had the edge in this spectacular part of the contest and got through Upton Brown and Mitchell by the gybe mark, although Pinnell and Davies were still number one at the bottom of the course.
 
On the next uphill climb Martin and Lowry had confidence in their speed in the freshening conditions and decided to follow Pinnell and Davies rather than split tacks.  This bought them into a position where they could tack under the British boat’s lee bow, from whence they powered into the lead.  They kept their composure on the final downwind and upwind legs to take the tape a good 200m ahead of Pinnell and Davies.
 
Slightly further back, the British pairing of Nathan Batchelor and Sam Pascoe showed that they could be the dark horse of this championship.  They followed their good results in the light airs of Day 1 with a seventh place, making them the only boat to have recorded a top ten result in all three races to date.   This means that they now stand in second placed overall, behind Pinnell and Davies and ahead of Saugmann and Karbo.
 
Another breezy day is expected tomorrow when two races are scheduled.  This will allow the competitors to discard their worst result so a lot may change by the end of Race 5.
 
Racing alongside the championship fleet, a parallel competition for vintage 505’s is being run.  Because this encompasses a wide range of construction techniques and equipment, a handicapping system is being run to even out the results.  Leaders after the first two races are Anne Marie and Pierre De Kergariou (FRA) sailing 2658, but the oldest boat in this fleet, K 698, complete with a wooden mast, sailed by Mike Arnold and Geoff Hunt is lying third.
 
 
Martin and Lowry win Race 3 © Christophe Favreau
Pinnell and Davies pile on the power downwind © Christophe FavreauUpton Brown and Mitchell show they still have what it takes © Christophe FavreauThe 505s enjoying the perfect conditions in Weymouth Bay © Christophe FavreauMike Arnold and Geoff Hunt in their 60 year old classic 505 © Christophe Favreau