Results :: Looe S.C. National Championships (Day 5)
|Thursday at the P&B Merlin Championships is the long distance race where the top 20 boats win a bottle of champagne. It was also a critical day in Nick Craig and Alan Robert's duel with Stu Bithell and Tom Pygall for the overall title. Although the sun had disappeared, the breeze was still in and the fleet lined up in a solid force 4 from 320 deg.|
With a rain storm having dragged the breeze right before the start, the smart money was on the breeze moving back to the left and consequently a lot of boats opted to start down towards the pin. As seems to have been the case for much of this week, the wind hadn't read the plan and pulled back right leaving those on the left struggling to get into the top twenty at the first mark. This included series leaders Stu and Tom. Nick and Alan who had taken a middle left route had done just enough to round in second behind the flying Olly Turner and Alex Warren who led the charge from the right. Dave Hayes and Jonny Radcliffe rounded third ahead of Andy Dalby and Andrea Ralph celebrating their strongest performance to date in their new boat 'The Bear'. By the end of the first flying triangle, Stu and Tom had got back into tenth having taken a low line on the first reach and then screamed down the overtaking lane on the second.
Olly and Alex maintained their lead up the next beat which was no small feat when you have Mr Craig breathing down your neck. However, Nick and Alan took a higher line down the run and were through to first. Now it was a question of how high up the fleet Stu and Tom could climb. The answer was second but they were unable to hold back Dave and Jonny who were absolutely flying upwind to take a brilliant second place ahead of Stu and Tom with Olly and Alex superb in fourth.
An elated Nick Craig returned to shore with a glint in his eye. "Game on" was his telling comment, followed by "I suspect Stu will come looking for me". Friday looks like being a battle royal between these two great teams.