Mariette wins after a ghastly error by Unfurled and Firebrand stamps her authority on the Little Dennis Cup. David Glenn was on the race course.

As luck would have it the fourth and final race of the
Pendennis Cup avoided the record breaking rainfall which overnight doused
revellers in Falmouth. By the time the fleet reached the startline the
following morning it had all cleared away east.

Nonetheless a leaden sky and what appeared at first to be a
dying breeze didn’t look that promising. Peter Craig and the race committee put
their faith in reports that the breeze would fill in from the NNW and got both
fleets away on time. Everyone was rewarded with a day which improved by the
minute and ended in sparkling sunshine and a solid breeze.

The final race would be a real decider for the two main
fleets, Unfurled and Mariette slugging it out for the Pendennis Cup and Mikado
and Firebrand locked in battle at the top of the Little Dennis Cup.

For the first time in the regatta I was observing from a
press boat and while the big yachts were hard to take one’s eyes off, I kept on
glancing at Firebrand, aboard which I had been sailing for a couple of days, to
see how they were faring against Mikado.

Unfurled hit the start line almost perfectly while Mariette,
it has to be said, was relatively late. The former made mincemeat of the beat
and while Mariette went out to the left to avoid the worst of the tide, she was
clearly going to have trouble holding onto Unfurled’s coat tails.

It was all going fairly predictably until just after the
yachts rounded the top mark for the second time. Unfurled was already improving
on her horizon job while we concentrated on photographing Mariette and others
against an unusually colourful Cornish landscape. But come the next mark
Unfurled had somehow lost two places to Adela and the impressively quick
Breakaway. We’d picked up VHF traffic from Mariette questioning whether the
course had been changed but then it dawned on us that in fact Unfurled had made
a ghastly course error, sailed past the correct turning mark and carried on
into oblivion.

All navigators know that gut wrenching feeling when they
look over their shoulder and see the entire chasing pack peeling off to another
mark. Unfurled had no option but to return, round and carry on, her chances of
victory snuffed out barring accidents. Mariette duly took the honours. How this
error came about has yet to be revealed to me in details – will it ever? – but
there was a suggestion that the letters P and R (denoting turning mark names)
may have been confused and there was possibly too much reliance was being put
on ‘black boxes’ and not enough on the Mark 1 eyeball.

The order in Class 3 for the Little Dennis Cup saw Tomahawk
with her somewhat tired sails trying to prevail over the heavily armed (in
terms of sails) Firebrand which John Boyce, Adam Ostenfeld and crew brought
home in very fine style benefiting from two longish beats in which she
revelled. It was enough to win them the class.

The plucky 6-Metre Mikado just didn’t have the upwind grunt
to prevail and enjoyed a tussle with the 8 Metre Pinuccia instead.

This regatta somehow managed to avoid the worst of the
outrageous ‘summer’ weather although Cornwall certainly wasn’t at it summery
best. The pluses were excellent organisation, a marvellous camaraderie, a race
course second to none for both sailors and spectators and, in Falmouth, a great
venue whose facilities have come on leaps and bounds in the last 10 years.
Peter Craig and the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club were right on the button too and
there was a very pleasant, down to earth atmosphere about the whole thing.

Crews from both the J Class and the superyacht fraternity
seemed to thoroughly enjoy the combination. “When you go to some Mediterranean
regattas and you only get one decent day’s sailing out of four you really do
start to look at the options – Falmouth is certainly one,” said a leading
sailor. And this week’s sailing proved that point.