African Queen is back on the Pace……

Three times Gold Cup winner Jorgen Schonherr, crewed by Jan Eli Gravad and Lars Wegener, showed he still has the magical speed in heavy air conditions by winning the second race of the Gold Cup here in a breezy Ostende. Yesterday’s forecast of a building wind throughout the day, prompted the Race Committee to bring forward the warning signal to 10.00am. Their hope was to complete a race before the predicted “squalls” arived which would have caused havoc in this 69 boat fleet of International Dragons…………….

So breakfast had to been ordered early and the teams set off from the sheltered waters of the Ostende inner harbour with their shrouds tensioned and their heavy weather sails set. The 4 nautical miles sailed to the starting area was quite calm at first but as the tide began to turn so the waves started to build and the wind showed signs of what was to come……… The first line was set by the PRO Henry Antoine allowing for a 200 degree wind direction, with the windward marks set at 190 degrees to compensate for the building tide. Unfortunately the wind shifted to 210 just before the start so the Committee Boat was heavily biased, which of course resulted in a General Recall. The Pin End was quickly adjusted and another starting sequence soon got underway, as time was of the essence if the race was to be completed before the predicted strong to gale force winds arrived.

After the second general recall the Black Flag was sensibly used and this got the fleet away cleanly at around 10.45am. The starboard end of the line at the Committee Boat was soon paying handsomely and GBR 744 Tim Tavinor who had “nailed the boat” gave himself a free range of options. Just below him in slightly bad air was DEN 401 Jorgen Schonherr who elected to continue on a starboard tack despite suffering from the disturbed air. Also starting well just down from the boat was GBR 765 Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen and GER 10 Marcus Benneke, these two extremely talented heavy weather sailors also elected to continue on starboard tack as the wind began to increase in strength and turn right….

At the windward mark it was Tim Tavinor who rounded first closely followed by a pack of boats who then made the quick decision to gybe at the “Dog-Leg” and set their kites for the now surfing conditions downwind…  At the bottom gate most of the lead boats opted for the left hand buoy so as to play the righthand side of the second beat. Tavinor did not push quite as far right as his three nearest rival’s, Schonherr, Brenneke and Hoj-Jensen and this was to prove costly as he rounded to top mark in 4th position following the three mentioned boats…  With the skies beginning to look very dark and threatening, the course was sensibly shortened at the leeward gate for the second time. Which saw Schonherr keep his slender lead over Brenneke and Hoj-Jensen.  Despite a small amount of confussion caused by the shorten course, 55 boats managed to complete the course with 14 boats retiring… These 55 boats were then treated to some superb surfing waves on the way back into the safety of the harbour as the wind continued to increase and the skies darkened……

So with two races now completed DEN 410 Jorgen Schonherr leads on 6pts, RUS 27  7pts and GBR 744  7pts, with GER 10 on 8pts….  All very close and very much early days of this 6 race series, but with an even stronger wind forecast for today (Tuesday), the battle for this unique Gold Cup may have to be delayed for 24 hours……..

Higher, Faster, Longer,                    Stavros.  (USA 310)

 

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