Andy Partington and Frenchman Ben Verniere won the International 14 POW Cup yesterday at North Berwick
The Prince of Wales Cup was presented and first raced for in 1927, and it is not surprising that there are precedents for most circumstances that might affect the running of the race. The situation experienced this week, when the race had to be postponed for lack of wind on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday, occurred as long ago as 1930, proving once again that there is hardly ever anything that has not been seen before in this long established class.
Finally, however, the boats went afloat yesterday (Thursday) to sail their annual championship race, after an initial postponement by PRO Jim Sinclair to allow the breeze to become established. Unlike a championship based on a points series, the POW is always a do or die effort, and it was not surprising that the first attempt at starting resulted in a general recall. Even with a black flag, the second attempt also brought about a general recall, with four unfortunate boats having to go home after they were spotted over the line.
In a way, it was fortunate that these initial attempts at starting were aborted, because there was then a period of almost complete calm, and everything had to wait for the breeze to re-establish itself. Eventually, there was enough to organise another start, and this time the fleet got away without further disqualifications.
Victor Brellisford and Damian Ash had the best of the first beat, and rounded the windward mark with a handy lead, which they extended over the next lap and a half, beginning to take on the appearance of likely winners. However, the vagaries of the breeze began to take a hand, and the extent of the lead they had built up counted against them when another period of calm gave along, giving the boats behind the advantage of seeing what was happening and avoiding the worst affected areas.
Although the order of the leading group was shuffled to an extent, the situation did not arise where there was a massive change that might have resulted in huge gains and losses. Several teams had periods in the lead, including Chris Turner and Peter Bagwell, Andy Partington and Ben Verniere, and Andy Fitzgerald and Simon Marks, with Brellisford and Ash making determined efforts regain the leading position.
Finally, the break that won the day was made by Andy Partington and Frenchman Ben Verniere on the sixth and final windward leg, when they established a good lead which they held down the reaches to the finish at the leeward mark. Fitzgerald and Marks approached the finishing line two-sailing the final reach, but Brellisford and Ash set their spinnaker, went for the leeward end of the line, and just took second place by a few feet.
It had been a nerve-wracking afternoon in a breeze that varied from zero to ten knots, demanding extreme patience from the race officers and competitors alike, but it was generally agreed that it had been a fair contest, and it certainly provided an exciting race. It was, of course, late in the evening before everyone got ashore.
Today (Friday) the fleet returns to the points series, with the possibility of three races being sailed if the conditions are suitable.
POW Cup results
1. Andy Partington and Ben Vernieres
2. Victor Brellisford and Damian Ash
3. Andy Fitzgerald and Simon Marks
4. Julian Pearson and Louise Hickey
5. Geoff Carveth and Adrian Murphy
6. Jarrod Simpson and Harvey Hillary
7. Chris Turner and Peter Bagwell
8. Grant Rollerson and Dave Smith
9. James Fawcett and Dave Dobrejivic
10. Chris Lewns and Simon Nearn