Mitch Booth and John Lovell each take a 3-1 lead on opening day

There was plenty of action yesterday at the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy with Mitch Booth (NED) and John Lovell (USA) each taking a 3-1 lead in the Challenger and Defender Series, respectively.

With southerly winds reaching 20 knots, the F18HT catamarans were at top speed, completing the four-mile courses in less than 20 minutes with boats speeds approaching 20 knots. In this event, also known as the ‘Little America’s Cup’, these high speed cats certainly outpace anything else being match raced, including IACC yachts.

“In the windier races, we were right on the edge of control,” said local-based favourite Lovell. “We capsized twice, more than usual in all my years of Tornado sailing.” Lovell and crew Charlie Ogletree (Houston, Texas) flipped once prior to a practice race when they snagged a crab trap, and once again in the second match against rival defender candidate Bob Hodges (Mandeville, La.), which cost him the lead and the match point.

In the Challenger Series, the Dutch team’s score was also hard-earned, having earned the win in Match One against rivals Enrique Figueroa and Jorge Sanchez when the Puerto Ricans capsized only meters from the finish and lost a commanding lead.

“We’re learning the limitations of the boats in the fresh conditions,” said Booth. “In competition this keen, we’re pushing the boats to its limits. The interesting part of the day was learning where those limits were.”

For today, Booth says: “We’re planning to be conservative to consolidate our position. We appear to be fast upwind, so we want to be first to the top mark and then defend rather than have to attack. If the conditions are different out there we’ll have to learn the boat all over again.” This is only the second day Tornado Olympic veteran Booth and his crew Herbert Dercksen have sailed the F18HT.

Racing continues through to 22 October.