An overcast day with early rain soon produced a Force 3-4 from West/South West and good sailing conditions

An overcast day with early rain soon produced a Force 3-4 from West/South West and good sailing conditions.

Most of the fleet started on the right-hand side although the pin-end starters appeared to have an early advantage . As on previous days the wind eased halfway up the beat and those on the left were soon stranded by the flukey variable winds. Peter & Sue Bannister 3736 were first round the windward mark followed by Neil Platt/Andy Weatherspoon 3757 and local sailors Terry & David Kirchen 3690. Platt went very low on the run but was not able to get past the Bannisters who held their lead until the final windward mark which was the finishing mark on a shortened course. Platt kept hold of second place with Greg Wells & Milo Mitchell 3536 in third. The second race was delayed waitng for a major wind shift to settle. Following a general recall & a black flag the fleet started at the starboard end with the majority of the fleet tacking onto port. This time there was little advantage and the Irish boats who kept out left again were up amongst the leaders at the first mark. Sean Craig & Stephen Boyle 3704 led from Richard Estaugh 3729 and Barry Parkin 3630. The wind was sststrengthening and favouring the left hand side on the second windward leg. Estaugh broke through to take the lead which he held until the line. Parkin 3630 was second and Craig 3704 led the way for the Irish contingent finishing in third place. The fifth race of the Championships which was abandoned for lack of wind on Tuesday was re-raced today. The wind had strengthened to a Force 4 and backed to the south west. Yet another general recall and a black flag for the restart. A few tried the left hand side again but this time those who opted for the middle gained had gained the advantage by the end of a long beat. Although stronger the variable winds were still proving difficult to read. Lucas/Carson winners on Day 2 led at the mark followed by Craig 3704, Lavery 3708 and Willis 3759, the Irish boats continuing their good form on the day. On the run Parkin 3630 went low and made up several places but was unable to break through the leading three. Lucas was overtaken by Lavery 3708 and Estaugh 3729 who fought out the final run & reach to take first and second respectively. Lucas held on for third place which kept him in second overall after 8 races. Championship leader Goacher had a poor day but retains a narrow lead in defence of his title. The best winds so far in terms of strength and some excellent close racing which saw different names amongst the leading boats on the day. In the Classics David Hill/Johnny Armstrong 671 followed up their success in the first morning race by posting a second and then another first. The second race saw particularly close racing on the final run & reach with Duke 2646 coming through in the last few yards to overtake Jones 1155 on the line. As with the Championship fleet the stronger but tricky winds produced variable performances and a number of protests and going into the final day there is everything to play for.

Hill leads the Classics from Arnold with last years champion Jones in third place. In the Open Fleet Goacher has a narrow lead from Lucas in second place and Parkin in third. Only 12 points separate the top five.

Joanna Dixon