Spring falters as Billy bounces back at the Sonar World Championship at Cowes

The 2005 Sonar World Championship saw a change to the leaderboard on Wednesday as Dave Franzel’s winning streak came to an end and local boat Billy’s fortunes took a turn for the better.

After starting the series with a sixth on Monday Paul Bowen steering Billy posted a fifth and two thirds on Tuesday then dominated the fleet on Wednesday with two victories. In contrast, visiting American sailor Dave Franzel started his series with two firsts then posted a fourth and seventh, before slipping to eighth in both of the last two races.

But while these two stories of snakes and ladders have been developing, the reigning world champion, Steve Shepstone in Nefarious has been the model of consistency ever since his opening race OCS. A first, two seconds, and a third sees Shepstone atop the leaderboard now that six races have been sailed and the discard has come into play.

In second is another leading American Sonar sailor, Pete Galloway who has a first, two seconds, a third and fourth on his scorecard and is just one point behind Shepstone with three races still to sail. And in third place it is Bowen, just a single point behind Galloway but with a comforting eight point gap ahead of Franzel in fourth. Yet another American, Greg Anthony in Troll occupies fifth place with Paul Hayden in El Toro rounding out the top six.

Wednesday’s first race got underway in the lightest breeze of the series so far with about eight knots of southwesterly breeze and a flatter Solent than the fleet has seen so far. Franzel’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in this race as he chose to hit the right hand corner while the rest of the leaders went hard left.

Left paid, and at the first mark it was Billy who rounded first and led around the rest of the five leg course. Behind Billy, El Toro rounded second with Shepstone third, Galloway seventh, and Franzel back in fifteenth. While Shepstone moved up to second by the end, and Galloway made it to third, Franzel managed to fight back to eighth.

With a strong wind forecast for later in the day, the second race got underway in a building breeze. At the first attempt the fleet pushed the line at the pin end and forced a general recall but they were all away clean at the second attempt.

The breeze increased throughout the race as Billy and Pete Galloway’s Fast Forward fought for the lead on every leg. Galloway’s Fast Forward had the edge at the first mark with Troll in second and Billy third. By the leeward mark Billy had moved into second and on the second run they managed to pass Fast Forward and then extended away to lead the fleet home. Shepstone moved up to third to grab the overnight lead ahead of two races scheduled for today, Thursday.