Close racing for 24 boats racing in Melges 24 Nationals
Twenty-four boats took to the water in sunny conditions with a slightly choppy sea and a good breeze, albeit one which was up and down throughout the afternoon.Three back to back races were fired off in quick succession with so many boats pushing the line, a general recall was held in every race.
The decision by race officer Martin Wells-Brown to then fly the black flag meaning disqualification to anyone over the line before the gun kept all the competitors clear of the line and the race able to get under way. In the first race of the afternoon, the fleet was undecided as to which way to go with half heading to the right side of the course towards the cliffs of Torquay, with the rest deciding the left side was the better option. First to the windward mark was local sailor Norman Broom on Hooligan who had his best race of the day, closely followed by Quentin Strauss on PIPC-Project Specialists and Allen Brown on The Dogs. With a slight increase in wind, Broom managed to hold off the challenge from Strauss for another leg of the course but with Strauss playing the wind shifts, was unable to hold onto his pole position and the gun was taken by Strauss with a comfortable lead. Third was Paul Lovejoy on The Badger who gradually worked his way through the fleet having been seventh at the first windward mark.
The second race of the day was swiftly underway, however another general recall was needed as so many were over the line. Stuart Simpson got into his stride with a good start and proved to be unstoppable, building up a good lead over closest rival Strauss through the fluky conditions of the beat, with his kite up and drawing before Strauss had even reached the windward mark. Just behind, RTYC fleet captain Adrian Peach on UK Panasonic reached the windward mark in third place, followed by Paul Manning on Deep Blue and Ian Watts on Certifiable. Peach was unable however to hold onto his podium position and slipped back to seventh place at the finish, with The Dogs reaching the finish line in third.
Race three saw Simpson and Strauss again show their class and lead the race from start to finish, with Simpson taking his second bullet of the day. Brown arrived at the windward mark in third place, but had to do a penalty turn after hitting the mark, while RTYC’s John Pollard on Xcellent had his best race of the day. A big lift on the first beat helped him reach the first mark in fourth place, moving up to third for the run until being overtaken by Manning on the second beat and finishing the race in fourth.