Another three wins at the BMW City Challenge puts team Allen & Overy LLP associates at the head of Heat 1 14/6/07

Heat 1 of the BMW City Challenge is really starting to hot up among the eight teams competing in the fortnightly regatta series on London’s Royal Victoria Dock.

This highly popular event which started on 1 May once again produced some great racing on Tuesday evening during the fourth round of the series.

Sailing Berkeley Marine’s fleet of Beneteau First Class 8s, teams from some of City’s big companies such as NIR Capital, A&Eau (Allen & Overy), IPC Marine Media, Ruffer, Citigroup 1, CitiSail (Citigroup), Blue Steel (Lehmans), Mini Linghi (UBS) lined up for the three-race round on the testing stretch of water in the docks just off the ExCel exhibition centre.

The eight teams once again tested their skills to the limit in the shifty conditions typical of what’s expected on the tall-building-lined dock. Graham and Julia Bailey and team aboard Allen & Overy LLP associates (last year’s overall winners) once again lived up to their reputation as event favourites by notching up three straight wins over Nils Razmilovic and his all-star Etchells championship-winning team on NIR Capital. This means they have now widened the overall gap to five points at the top of the scoreboard.

Following their final race win at the last event two weeks ago Team IPC Marine Media (comprising Mike Shepherd, Sue Pelling, Graham Beeson and Simon Osgood) secured a fairly safe third position, again widening the gap between themselves and the fourth-placed Ruffer team. With a fourth and two thirds this week they remain in third position.

Team Ruffer, IPC’s nearest rivals, notched up a third in the first race on Tuesday evening but a fourth and a fifth in following two races means they are now 13pts adrift.

Further down the fleet in round one, Citigroup 1 and Blue Steel had a bit of a coming together at the first windward mark. Apparently Blue Steel had rounded and was heading downwind while Citigroup was still on the beat. Although they tried to avoid each other, their rigs clashed and both decided to retire from the race which meant they each gained 9pts.

Malcolm McKeag the race officer, chatting about the general success of the event said: “It’s going tremendously. Even in the ghosting conditions we’ve been experiencing it’s a great venue for evening racing. But now we’re getting decent breezes we’re having great fun. The difficulty is, with this venue, if there’s not a full, solid breeze all across the dock the runs can become a lottery depending on where the wind streaks are. Last year we were using windward/leewards but we’re now using a new system with more marks which I think makes the course more interesting and makes boat handling a bit more interesting too.”

The next round scheduled for 26 June is the final race in the Heat 1 series but with the top two contenders – Graham and Julia Bailey (Allen & Overy), and Nils Razmilovic (NIR Capital) – unable to attend due to a clash with the Etchells World Championship at Cowes – there could be a bit a shuffle around in the no-discard series. Keep an eye out onyachtingworld.comfor the next report from the BMW City Championship.