Robert and Peter Greenhalgh won the 2001 POW Cup on Thursday 9 August. They dominated the fleet in the breezy conditions in convincing style.
The Prince of Wales Cup is the single race which decides Britain’s International 14 champion each year. It is a legendary race which calls for an unusual ‘death or glory’ style of sailing unfamiliar to those whose championships are decided on a series of races (where cautious sailing is often the best route to victory). Indeed, in many classes the national champion emerges from a series without ever winning a race – not so the International 14.
The course is long and punishing – six laps alternating sausage/triangle with deliberately tight reaches on the triangles calling for excellent judgement on when to hoist the spinnaker (if at all!). Unusually, the course also finishes on the bottom of the third triangle which again adds to the pressure – desperate moves on the reach have been the downfall of many a would-be winner.
In the POW race, the top six finishing positions count because the first six finishing boats receive a replica of the POW Cup itself.
This year’s course was no exception and it was made all the more difficult by the very gusty and shifty 20 knot wind which caught out the unwary.
After one general recall, the fleet got cleanly away. As ever, the fleet split to the left and right corners each no doubt convincing themselves of the validity of their theory on which way the wind would shift. Towards the end of the first beat it looked as though those on the right – who had gone towards the shore looking for a lift – would pay off. The offshore wind at Pwllheli, however, had other ideas and just as the ‘righties’ were feeling rather smug the wind suddenly swung back.
Howard Steavenson and Ian Turnbull – long time 14 campaigners – rounded the windward mark first and with a huge gust to help them on their way led the fleet down the first blasting offwind leg amid plumes of spray. Former 14 world champion, Charles Stanley and Jim Storey rounded behind Steavenson/Turnbull followed by Robert and Peter Greenhalgh, then Dave Spragg and Andy Loukes, Ian Teasdale and Simon Hewson, Jason Beebe and Sam Reid.
Steavenson/Turnbull – defending themselves from Stanley/Storey went high on the run and as a result unwittingly led the rest of the fleet to overshoot the leeward mark. While those who overshot the mark had to drop their spinnakers on the post tack coming into the leeward mark, many of those disappointed ‘righties’ had gybed inside and gained huge distances – putting them back into the race.
Colin Goodman and Sam Gardener – probably the POW favourites after their form during the week – capsized on the run and became entangled with a lobster pot. They finally rounded the leeward mark in last position.
As a result, the top places dramatically changed and some fast boats who had missed out on the first beat started to move through the fleet.
By the second windward mark, Greenhalgh/Greenhalgh had seized the lead and had started to build distance on the boats behind. They were followed by Ian Pinnell and Dan Johnson, Steavenson/Turnbull, Teasdale/Hewson and the current Australian Champions Jason Beebe and Sam Reid.
On the downwind leg, Steavenson/Turnbull suffered a gear failure and their chances of winning this POW were over. Meanwhile, the leading pack went round the leeward mark to work the shifts on the right-hand side of the course. They were jealously guarding their positions relative to one another, probably feeling that at last their POW Cup miniatures were secured.
Meanwhile, Goodman/Gardener were yet again over on the neglected left-hand side of the beat. Others followed, and this produced a new line up at the third windward mark. Greenhalgh/Greenhalgh had by now established a convincing lead which looked unassailable. Goodman/Gardener were now in second (remember – having been last at the first leeward mark). They were pursued