Peter Morton's Super Q leads the Red Funnel Quarter Ton Cup after a windy opening race

The first day of the Red Funnel Quarter Ton Cup 2005 got off to a wet and windy start yesterday, but by lunchtime the sun had broken through to give an afternoon of glorious sailing on the Solent. The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club’s team set three round the cans courses for the 14 competitors and racing was fast and furious in a gusty south to south-west breeze.

As the day wore on a battle of the veterans developed between Peter Morton’s Super Q, Tony Dodd’s Purple Haze and Tom Richardson and Katie Bewes’s Needlework. In the end it was youth that won the day with Super Q (combined crew age 225 years) just pipping Purple Haze (combined crew age 266) by a single point overall with Needlework (combined age undisclosed but definitely well up there!) in third.

Super Q’s crew comprises Peter Morton, Kelvin Rawlings, Darren Marsden, Mark Rushall and ‘nipper’ Jamie Boag who between them have racked more Admiral’s Cups, America’s Cups, Ton Cups, Fastnets, Sydney Hobarts, Commodore’s Cups, Fireball, Lark and Laser Championships than we’ve space to mention. The boys got off to a lively start with a monumental down-the-mine broach on the first run which left Rawlings up to his neck in water and the keel up to its neck in air. This didn’t seem to put them off their stride and they went on to take first place from Purple Haze with Laurent Beaurin’s 45 degress south third and Graydon Dawson helming Diamond fourth.

In race two it was Purple Haze’s turn for victory. Her local Hamble crew of Tony Dodd, Jim and George Webb, Tim Reese and Derek Morland proved that age comes before beauty, winning the race by a full 11 seconds from Super Q. Tom Richardson and Katie Bewes’s Needlework, crewed by Jonty Sherwill and John Dudley, finished just 18 seconds behind them in third while Diamond took another fourth.

The final race of the day was the closest of all with the top four boats finishing just 23 seconds apart. Morty and the Super Q boys got their second bullet by just two seconds from Purple Haze. Again Needlework was third and Graydon Dawson proved that consistency must be his middle name with yet another fourth.

Sadly Ron Holland, Neil Kenefick, Joxer O’Brien and Killian Bushe’s campaign came to an early end when an exploding runner block on the first run brought down Manzanita’s rig. The hunt for a replacement spar is on but it looks unlikely that they will race tomorrow.

Peter Morton, skipper Super Q commented: “Thrashing 23ft boats around in approaching 30 knots of breeze was terrific. We laid them on their sides, tipped them over and had great fun. It was a brilliant day’s sailing and you realise just how good Grand Prix rules are when the boats are so different in shape but finish only seconds apart after such tough racing.”

Even those who didn’t make the podium enjoyed an outstanding day on the water. Mark Cartwright and Nick Barker’s crew aboard Murhpys Law took a nineth and two fifths but still came ashore grinning from ear to ear. “That was the best day’s racing I’ve had in a long time.” commented Mark Cartwright in the bar after racing.