Competitors enjoy better than expected winds on first day of Red Funnel Easter Challenge 15/3/06

The first day of the Red Funnel Easter Challenge kicked off with the impressive sight of a combined big boat fleet racing windward/leewards in the central Solent across the North Channel. A south-westerly breeze of between 10 to 16 knots with overcast skies were the order of the day – a little more breeze than anticipated. By the final race the skies had cleared and the breeze had dropped, but still consistently in the south-west. The Race Committee were to be congratulated on getting all of the races away especially as they had two general recalls to deal with.

Race 1: David Frank?s Rebel won the first race by a mere five seconds on corrected time from H2O Yachting’s Creative Play, the only Farr 40 in the fleet. Shaun Frohlich’s Exabyte 4 was a close third only 15 seconds behind the winner. Racing for just over an hour, the top four boats finished within one minute of each other on correction.

Race 2: Jerry Otter?s Farr 45 Werewolf came out top which must have been a relief after a poor fifth in the previous race. He commented: “We have a pretty settled crew which makes for good stability and smoother sailing on the boat and I’ve always tried to focus on the teamwork aspect. If someone makes a mistake, that’s history, you can’t change that. It’s important to put that behind you and keep focusing on sailing the boat and to get back into the race.”

Jon Pegg driving Audacious was a few seconds behind and H2O Yachting’s Creative Play notched up a third place which leaves them in poll position at the end of day one.

IRC Super Zero & Zero
Race 1: Benny Kelly’s Transpac 52 Panthera won their first ever race but only by 45 seconds from Chris Brown helming his DK 46 Fidessa Fastwave. Kit Hobday’s Farr 52 Bear of Britain came in a very satisfactory third ahead of Ger O’Rourke’s Cookson 50 Chieftain.

Race 2: Chris Brown’s Fidessa Fastwave pulled off a fantastic victory beating the Transpac 52 Panthera into second place by a full two minutes. Tim Thuberon, tactician on Fidessa Fastwave commented: “We decided that in the fading breeze pressure was more important than tide and we chose to go left at the start. We experienced better wind speeds which paid well especially upwind. The key was the last beat. We chose to go right and ignore the tidal advantage on the left and got clear air and more pressure.” Third place in race 2 was the other DK 46 Shockwave owned by Nick Lutte. After the first day, Fidessa Fastwave and Panthera are tied on points for first place with three boats in joint third: Bear of Britan, Chieftain and Shockwave.

Race 1: Eamonn Rohan beautiful new Corby 37 Blondie with Cowes designer John Corby on board won its maiden race. Second were Conor and Denise Phelan in Jump Juice, racing their impressive Ker 37. Swan 461 Lowly Worm owned by John Dean, had a good first race, with a very respectable third place in conditions that probably did not suit their heavier boat.

Race 2: Conor and Denise Phelan’s Jump Juice gained first place ahead of Eamonn Rohan’s Blondie but only by 12 seconds. Jack Pringle’s IMX40 was third.

The stage is now set for an intense battle between two Irish boats who are level on points after two races with Peter Robson’s Beneteau 40.7 Playing Around third in class.

John Corby took a moment to talk about his new design: “This is a logical progression from Eamonn’s previous boat Mustang Sally. Blondie has not been built just for the Commodores’ Cup, but for a two to three year programme competing in a wide variety of events.”

Race 1: Peter Rutter’s Elan 37 Quokka won the first race of the day with their long standing rival Jim MacGregor’s Elan 40 Flair IV in second place, a sweet result for Quokka as they also beat their rival on the water as well as on corrected time. Chris Walmsley’s Ker 31 Sanguma was third. Of the nine J/109s racing, Iain Fenna’s Jumunu came out top in the first race.

Race 2
In a dramatically close finish, the flamboyant Irish J/109 No Naked Flames owned by Andrew Allen beat Peter Rutter’s Quokka in the closest race of the day winning by only ten seconds on corrected time and a mere seven seconds separated the two boats on the water. Peter Schofield had a consistent day racing his HOD 35 Zarafa finishing third in race 2.

After two races Quokka leads the class in front of Zarafa and No Naked Flames is third.

Race 1: Michael Tattersall’s modified X-99 won by 11 seconds from Dean & Dyball Enigma, with David Riley’s Corby 29 No Retreat a close third.

Race 2: Starting late in the day with a fading breeze, No Retreat finished the day with a bullet which has them at the top of the class after the first day?s racing. Second place in the race went to newcomers Jackie Welch and Rob Dobson sailing their Elan 333 Elusive in their first regatta. In third place was Andy Johns in his Sigma 33 Shadowfax.

Three races are scheduled for today with a forecast of light easterly breeze which should be a test for the competing yachts, particularly with regard to finding the best breeze lines on the race course.