When the tide goes out (ebbing) on the solent, it can sometimes reach a speed of around 4kts….. So as all the different classes prepared for their start’s yesterday, extreme caution had to be taken or else it would be easy to record an OCS and have a difficult time returning to the line to re-start…. Also as the wind was gusting from the south thus coming from the land, it was difficult to know how much wind would be on or around the starting area prior to any one start. The Etchells being a lighter and slightly quicker boat than the Dragon, were able to push the line to the limit, as recovery if a mistake was made, would be little problem. However, the Darings and the Dragon’s, being a heavier keelboat had to take care….
So as the Dragon’s lined up for their 3rd race of this long 8 race series, the majority of the boats were keeping well “up-tide” of the line, apart from 80yr young Edward Sawyer USA 310, who has lived life on the edge most of his life, plus returning to Cowes for the first time since breaking his neck here in 2006, who threw caution to the wind and hit the line full-speed on the gun… This gave Ted and his crew the lead as spinnaker’s were raised and the fleet reached across the solent towards the Beaulieu River, that flows south through the New Forest in Hampshire…
Making a gybe at the first turning mark, Ted and his team were able to keep the fleet behind them, although GBR 720 Graham Bailey was breathing down Ted’s neck! The course then took the fleet close to the Calshot Spit, which saw at least one Etchells grounded for over 30 mins, as the local and visiting sailors played “chicken” with the surprisingly shallow waters….Although Sawyer and his team did their best to keep GBR 720 behind, on the next beat Graham showed why he has been dominating many fleets over the years with his superb knowledge of the solent and expert helming skills. So at the windward mark Graham sailing with his wife Julia and top local crew and boatbuilder David Heritage, took and extended their lead all the way to finish well ahead of the fleet…..
Also behind USA 310 was “Seabird” helmed by Owen Pay, who has recently aquired this wonderful 2008 “teak decked” Petticrow from Ireland. Owen was sailing extremely fast as on the first spinnaker reach one of his men had fallen overboard, so he had lost a great deal of time whilst turning to collect his wet but enthusiastic crew… So the Seabird flew into 2nd place and the ever canny Eric Williams slipped around both GRB 761 and USA 310 into 3rd place on the final reach to the finish…..
However, today is another day and with 5 races still to go and the evening parties getting later and later, it may all come down to an endurance test and have nothing to do with the sailing.. 🙂
Higher, Faster, Longer………. Stavros. (USA 310)