Light and shifty conditions saw GBR 52 foiled by the weather gods against the Swedish Victory challenge, despite the British team's ability to hold onto a comprehensive 32-second lead for most of the race
Light and shifty conditions saw GBR 52 foiled by the weather gods against the Swedish Victory challenge. The British team comprehensively held a 32-second lead at both the first windward mark and the first leeward mark, before a 120 degree windshift on the second ‘beat’ allowed their Swedish counterparts to sail around them with their gennaker.
GBR Challenge Skipper, Ian Walker, was not dispirited. “We’re obviously disappointed to lose but the nature of the loss means that there’s a lot that we can take from it. We said at the start of the week that our main aims were to start well and then sail well. We did both today.”
Peter Harrison’s men, with Andy Beadsworth helming in an afterguard that included Skipper Ian Walker and Tactician Ado Stead, once again won their pre-start. Starting with port entry, GBR 52 shut the Swedish team out at the committee boat end to start ahead. Jesper Bank’s team tacked off onto port after crossing the line two boat lengths behind, and GBR Challenge covered, slightly to windward.
After a mile up the beat, the 2003 generation Swedish yacht had drawn level and started to edge ahead, forcing GBR Challenge to tack off. As the yachts crossed back, GBR was just behind but the British team continued to the right hand side of the course, which was to pay. Tactician Ado Stead called a shift correctly and the GBR 52 established a 12 length lead. As the wind swung back, the superior speed of the new generation yacht allowed Victory to erode the lead to 32 seconds at the windward mark.
The British team held their lead down the run, rounding exactly 32 seconds ahead of the Swedish and immediately tacking onto port which was the leading tack as the wind was swinging round further. SWE 63 continued for six boat lengths on starboard, heading away from the mark, before tacking onto port. The wind continued to swing to the point where both teams had their gennakers hoisted but the pressure on the left hand side of the course allowed the Swedes to take the lead, sailing a large semi-circular course around the frustrated British team who’s boat speed dropped to three knots at one point. Halfway up the leg, Victory led by an estimated two minutes.
As the teams approached the leeward mark, GBR Challenge fought back to cut SWE63’s lead to sixteen seconds at the mark. Spectators were then treated to the unusual spectacle of a short tacking duel on the final run. The wind then died briefly, and Victory extended their lead to win by 58 seconds.
Helmsman Andy Beadsworth reflected on the day’s racing. “We did everything well that was within our power, beyond that you’re in the lap of the god. We’re pretty happy with how we performed today.”