The sun finally shone on the Half Ton Classics Cup fleet on the third day of the regatta, which also brought more moderate wind and sea conditions. The crews enjoyed a fabulous day of classic champagne sailing to complete races six and seven of their series.
Both races were run on three lap windward/leeward courses which gave the boats some terrific racing, but still enabled them to be back on the dock by early afternoon for some well deserved relaxation time at the Koninklijke Yacht Club Nieuwpoort.
The lighter conditions saw some new faces making it to the front of the fleet and the day’s top performer was Robbie Tregear’s beautiful baby blue Per Elisa, the last custom Half Tonner ever built – in 1992 to a Ceccarelli design – which finished second in the Half Ton Cup of that same year. Per Elisa has raced in all the revival Half Ton Classics Cups and with a second and first place today Robbie and his crew made it clear that they hope to improve on their previous best result, which was a third in 2009, the last time the event was held in Nieuwpoort.
In the first race of the day overnight leader Checkmate XV, owned by Ireland’s David Cullen, sailed a text book race to win by 68 seconds. Per Elisa had led the race early on but couldn’t hold off Checkmate’s onslought so had to be content with second. Happy to be back racing in more moderate conditions, Johny Swan’s Harmony took third with Jeremy Florizoone’s Alf fourth.
Race seven saw both Per Elisa and Checkmate XV down at the pin end which Checkmate technically won, however Per Elisa came off the line slightly to weather and with fantastic pace and stormed her way up the first beat, never missing a shift. By the first mark she already had a confident lead and she continued to build on that throughout the race, eventually winning by an impressive six minutes 47 seconds.
Whilst Per Elisa was out on her own, the chasing pack fought an incredible battle for second. Initially Checkmate had looked good for it, but mainsheet man John Murphy got a little overenthusiastic on the second run and the jury penalised them for pumping. The resulting penalty lost them three places on the water, but they sailed their socks off to catch back up. On corrected time with only 38 seconds between second and fifith on corrected time only 38 seconds separated second to fifth and it was Paul Pullen’s Miss Whiplash who took second by a mere three seconds from Checkmate XV with the Spilleboudt brothers’ Blue Berry Pi in fourth and Harmony fifth.
In the overall standings the completion of race seven means that the boats are now allowed two discards. With their worst result a third place David Cullen and his boys from Howth aboard Checkmate XV lead the regatta with 7.1 points. Paul Pullen’s Cornishmen in Miss Whiplash are now in second with 13.6 points and Robby Tregear and Per Elisa jump from tenth into third with 22 points. The Spilleboudt’s Blue Berry Pi has moved from seventh to fourth on 24.9 points.
Tomorrow the race committee intends to run the long coastal race, which carries a scoring coefficient of 1.5 and cannot be discarded. The forecast is for the grey skies and rain showers to return and for the wind to be southerly, but somewhat shifty and squally as the showers come through.