Results :: Looe S.C. National Championships (Day 4)
|Four days into the P&B Merlin Championships and the dual in the sun continues. Following the masterclass of high wind sailing put on by Stu Bithell and Tom Pygall yesterday, which not even the great Nick Craig could live with, Wednesday brought a shifty offshore F3-5 northwesterly, a game that Nick knows well.|
Two races were scheduled and the fleet lined up in glamorous conditions with bright sunshine and white horses across the bay. Getting the start tactics right was a real head scratcher; whether to go with the bias at the start time or anticipate the next shift. In the first race the line was fair but the breeze went left putting those who started at the pin in a great position. Jon Gorringe and Toby Lewis got it right and were leading into the windward mark but Stu and Tom worked the last few shifts to put pressure on them and were able to take the lead down the reaches, after Jon and Toby hit the mark. It was a race where the leaders could never relax with constant shifts and pressure bands coming down the course. Nick and Alan were climbing through the fleet to put pressure on Stu and Tom who held on to the line. Sam Pascoe and Alex Adams called most of the shifts right to take third ahead of Jon and Toby with the grand masters John Turner and Richard Parslow polishing up their old playbook in fifth.
The second race saw the wind go ten degrees right as the fleet started. While this should have benefited the committee boat end starters, more pressure on the left of the course allowed the pin end starters to extend out and although coming back on a port header, cross the fleet on the layline to the windward mark. Nick and Alan rang the bell in the left corner to come in ahead of Stu and Tom, with Jon and Toby third. The gybe mark was notable for sailing legend Tom Stewart contriving to capsize while in fifth place, taking his tally of dismounts for the week to five. By the leeward mark, Tim Fells and Chris Downham had slipped into second ahead of Stu and Tom – a brief moment of glory for your reporter.
For the next three laps Nick and Alan dueled for the lead with Stu and Tom, a result which would be key to the final destination of the title. Nick and Alan had to win and they defended hard to take the gun by the narrowest of margins. Taxi and Simon, who had been clawing their way up through the fleet, rang the bell in the right corner on the last beat to pip Jon and Toby with John and Richard again in fifth for a very strong day for a couple of pensioners.
Overall, the discard is still to come in so Nick and Alan are in third with their 14th but will be one point behind Stu and Tom with the discard tomorrow. Barring extraordinary circumstances, these two are battling for the top two spots, Taxi and Simon, and Jon and Toby are hunting third and then there is a gap to a large number of boats trying to get into the top six overall.