The second day of the Etchells Invitational Regatta for the Gertrude Cup saw more intense competition, including an incredibly tight finish in the second race that saw the four leading boats cross the line in just three seconds. With a discard having kicked in following the completion of six races, Mark Thornburrow’s team from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club remain overall leaders in this high-scoring series, despite a disastrous first race in which they languished near the back of the fleet.
A fourth place and two thirds saw Tom Carruthers’ San Diego Yacht Club team, crewed by double Etchells world champion Andrew “Dog” Palfrey and Chris Busch, leap four places up the leaderboard to take second place overall. Meanwhile Jeanne-Claude Strong of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron slipped one place to third overall, having scored six, four, fifteen.
The first race of the day started in a south-south-westerly breeze of 17-19 knots, with a strong east going stream helping to keep teams behind the line. However, a right hand wind shift less than two minutes before the start saw competitors bunched close to the committee boat. At the gun, Curruthers was over the line and recalled, while Mark Thornburrow’s Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club team also returned, even though they were just on the correct side of the line, It was a move that might have cost them a top position in this race.
The day’s racing took place as the tide changed from an east-going stream to a west going one. Therefore, in the early races the right hand side of the beat tended to be favoured, but by the final race of the day the left hand side of the upwind leg had a strong tidal advantage, which caught out two of the opening day’s four best-placed teams.
By this race, however, Thornburrow had recovered much of his form from the opening day, leading for the first lap of Race six, until a botched spinnaker drop saw his crew drop five lengths behind Jan Muysken, David Bedford and Mark Lees Emirates Palace Yacht Club team. On the second run Thornburrow significantly closed the gap on Muysken, piling pressure onto his opponent. An untidy rounding at the leeward gate by the UAE team provided the opportunity Thornburrow needed to slip inside at the mark and gain an advantage that he held to the finish.
The day’s best performance was by Spinnaker Sailing Club’s Matt Reid and his crew of Jamie Diamond, Izzy Welch and Graham Sunderland. “Yesterday we were slow to adapt to the boat we had, and didn’t have our heads out of the boat enough, but today we were stronger strategically,” Sunderland says.
“Our starts were also much better today than yesterday and our manoeuvres were all good,” says Reid, “including gybe sets that opened up more options at the start of the downwind legs. With the wind more in the south-west it also felt easier to call which side of the course would pay, especially when we could see that other good local sailors were making the same decisions.
“For us the most challenging part today was maintaining our lead in the race we won, as the fleet was split right across the course, which made it really hard to defend our position. Looking ahead, we already have two big scores to discard, so the challenge will be to maintain consistency.” With big winds forecast for the third day of racing that’s a thought that’s likely to be on the minds of many competitors.
Many thanks go to the events five main sponsors Zhik, Spinlock, David Heritage Racing Yachts, Shepards Wharf Marina and Edward S Fort, OBE, as well as to the Royal Thames and Royal London Yacht Clubs.