Asher and Willis under pressure on day two

With the Met Office promising stronger winds and even a possible thunderstorm, conditions on the second day of the British International 420 Class Open and National Championships yesterday presented a very different challenge to the previous light winds.

Having won all three races of the first day, leading pair Nic Asher and Elliot Willis had a comfortable overnight lead, but with the variable conditions, the racing promised continued excitement.

Although they made a good start, Asher and Willis found themselves in third, the top Ladies’ pair, local sailors Alison Martin and Bethan Carden defying the pundits and leading Gemma Farrell and Jo Allen at the first mark. A wind shift on the second beat allowed Asher and Willis to take the lead only to be overtaken by relative newcomers Lucy and Nicola Macgregor who gave their best performance of the championship so far to hold off their more experienced competitors and take first place.

Asher and Willis retained second from Matt Burge and Simon Wheeler, with three other ladies pairs appearing in the top eight. Callum Macdonald and Andrew Greer, lying second overnight, also produced a solid race to keep themselves in touch with the leaders. Athol and Eamonn King, previously in third, had a disappointing 34th, dropping to sixth overall.

With the winning streak of Asher and Willis broken, the competition again appeared more open in the second race of the day. In a good sailing breeze, Malaysian team Jeremy Koo Wui Ken and Loo Sing Yew, recently returned from the world championship, chose an inshore line and reached the first mark well ahead of the fleet. Maintaining their lead throughout the Malaysians had a comfortable victory, while the other boats jostled for position behind them. Burge and Wheeler, again passed by Asher and Willis, took third ahead of Sophie Harrison and Sophie Dyer whose placings have steadily improved. The Kings also recovered their composure to finish fifth.

In the final race of the day, the fleet lost its starting discipline and the first attempt was abandoned. With the second start black flagged, false starters risked disqualification, a deterrent which unfortunately failed to deter more than a quarter of the fleet from attempting to gain an advantage. With 18 boats heading for the beach, the race finally got underway at the third attempt. Flying into the lead, the Kings, leading at the first mark, were then taken out of the race by the jury for a false start and, along with several others, joined the procession of boats heading for the club. Beneficiaries of the King’s misfortune, Asher and Willis found themselves in front and, showing their consistency, held off the two earlier race winners who pressed him to the finish.

Coming second, Koo Wui Ken and Sing Yew produced another excellent performance to significantly improve their overall placing at the end of the second day. Lying fourth, they are chasing Women’s Championship leaders Martin and Carden whose consistent sailing has moved them into third. Macdonald and Greer remain second, despite failing to reproduce their first day’s results.

Overall Results (after 6 races)

1 GBR Nic Asher and Elliot Willis 1 1 1 2 2 1 8pts

2 GBR Callum Macdonald and Andrew Greer 4 2 4 5 18 7 40pts

3 GBR Alison Martin and Bethan Carden 5 6 7 6 12 18 54pts

4 MAS Jeremy Koo Wui Ken and Loo Sing Yew 19 13 3 22 1 2 60pts

5 GBR Sam Carter and Paul Davies 3 11 6 19 11 17 67pts

6 GBR Matt Burge and Simon Wheeler 2 41 20 3 3 8 77pts