Darings show the way in fourth Red Funnel weekend
The fourth weekend of the Red Funnel Cowes Keelboat Championship brought predominantly grey skies and light to moderate breezes with near identical conditions last weekend. Racing for this weekend of the series was run by the Royal Thames Yacht Club who set the windward/leeward courses east of the Brambles Bank.
With the Etchells fleet enjoying their national championship there were no Etchells taking the start in the Red Funnel series this weekend but 12 Darings and 11 Dragons came to the line on Saturday while 18 Darings, 11 Dragons, and 2 Sonars raced on Sunday.
Chief Race Officer Malcolm McKeag was always going to have a difficult job positioning the course, as he was competing for space with the Etchells and 1720 national championships. With both the other fleets getting to the Brambles Bank early on both days it was left to McKeag to fit his course in as best he could. “It was a matter of dogs and lamp posts, or Germans and deckchairs – first come, first served,” explained McKeag.
Despite these limitations McKeag set good courses on both days, aided by the wind staying firmly in the west-south-west through the weekend, albeit with many shifts in a 30 degree sector that kept everyone on their toes. In fact, a large windshift at the start of the second race on Saturday forced McKeag to change the angle of the start line between and Daring and Dragon starts.
On Saturday, The Darings led the fleets away in the absence of the Etchells with the 12-strong fleet having a good battle with much place changing. Division Belle led around the first mark followed by Dynamite and Decanter but by the second windward mark Division Belle had dropped back to eighth place and Decanter to sixth while Dynamite had grabbed the lead and held it to the finish. Audax staged a good climb through the fleet to finish second with Defiant making an even better recovery to take third.
There was a different pecking order and less place changing in the Darings’ second race, although the top three swapped positions on both laps. In the end it was Delius that took the win ahead of Defiant which had led for the first two laps, with Dionysis in third. Of the top three from race one only Defiant had a good race, with Dynamite dropping to eleventh and Audax to tenth.
In the Dragons the 11 boats also swapped the podium positions in the two races with only Virago showing any consistency, taking second in race one and third in the second race. David Palmer’s new boat GBR700 with Andy Beadsworth in middle won race one but dropped to fourth in the second, while Rascal Rat finshed third in race one but could do no better than seventh in race two. Aimee won the second race ahead of Caramba.
Conditions remained the same for Sunday’s racing but 18 Darings turned out with 11 Dragons and two Sonars – just enough for a race.
The Darings enjoyed close racing with considerable place changing and different winners in both races. Dionysus was the consistent boat in Sunday’s races, scoring a third in the first race behind Daring 1 and Dauntless and finishing second behind Dynamite and ahead of Division Belle in the second race.
In the Dragons it was GBR700 in consistent form, scoring two second places behind Excalibur in the first race and Caramba in the second. Virago took third in the first race while Jerboa IV took the final podium position in the last race of the weekend.
The two Sonars, Billy and Bertie, enjoyed close racing in the first race with Billy just taking the win but in the second race, in slightly lighter breeze, Bertie had the speed to pull away and take an easy win.
The penultimate weekend of the Red Funnel Cowes Keelboat Championship will be on 16-17 July and will be run by the Royal London Yacht Club.
Saturday Race 1
3. Rascal Rat
1. Daring 1
3. Division Belle
3. Jerboa IV