The Royal Malta Yacht Club team has endedits commitments at the Etchells Invitational Regatta for the Gertrude Cupwhich took place in Cowes.
The RMYC Team, made up of David Anastasi, TomBonello Ghio, Karl Miggiani and Zach Zammit, earned a respectable 10thplace in a field of 16 highly experienced and competitive teams. Their valiantefforts saw them being awarded a prize for the Most Improved Team.
Race Report by Rupert Holmes, additional text RMYC
Cowes,UK, August 5, 2015 – An action-packed finish in the final race determined theoverall result of the Etchells Invitational Regatta for the Gertrude Cup.
Onthe final approach to the pin end of the line, five boats were overlapped onport tack, when a boat on starboard forced them all to tack. Some squeezed pastthe correct side of the mark, but others were pushed outside the line and hadto gybe clear.
Thisleft the top three teams tied on 30 points after 10 races. Mark Thornburrow ofthe Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club took first overall on count back thanks to tworace wins. Second overall was Jeanne-Claude Strong of the Royal Sydney YachtSquadron, thanks to her win in the penultimate race. Tom Carruthers of SanDiego Yacht Club, who sailed a consistent series without winning an individualrace, took third.
The Royal Malta Yacht Club team was one of the boats on port that managed to squeeze past the correct side of the mark finishing 6th and earning a respectable 10th place overall.
After 4 days of extremely competitive racing David Anastasi and his crew of young sailors Zach Zammit, Thomas Bonello Ghio and Karl Migiani earned the respect of the veteran Etchells sailors. The RMYC team was racing in a group which saw them compete against a group of decorated world champions and Olympians.
The first day was the best day for the team who with consistent results ended the day in 3rd overall.
The second day saw the team place in the top 10 but after losing a protest the team ended up 7th overall at the end of the second day.
The third day saw winds of up to 28 knots and all racing was cancelled for the day.
The final day was the most challenging for the Maltese; strong tides, light shifty wind and a boat which didn't seem to have the pace as the previous day’s. The first 3 races of the day didn't go so well despite good starts and strong moments and the team didn't manage to place in the top ten. The team finally found their usual form in the last race of the day ending the regatta with a score that matches the the scores which put them in 3rd place overall on the first day.
Thecompetition was incredibly tight throughout the event, with seven differentwinners over the 10 races, while more than half the fleet scored at least onepodium result. At the other end of the scale, the smallest misjudgement couldcost many points and every team finished at least one race near the back of thefleet.
Thefinal day of racing delivered four intense races in a light to moderatesouth-easterly breeze with big shifts, lulls and gusts. The conditions, whichprovided many opportunities to slide down the fleet, or recover ground, proveddifficult to read even for the many world-class sailors, including five worldchampions, in the fleet.
Thornburrowand his crew of Laurence Mead, Libby Watkins and Lauren Mead started the day asoverall leaders, with a three-point margin. However, they had a disastrousfirst race, finishing 11th in the 16 strong fleet. That gave the benefit toStrong, who finished the race in third place. She then immediately lost theadvantage by scoring 12th in the second race of the day, but recovered with awin in the next to remain in contention.
TomCarruthers, the current Etchells North American Champion, of the San DiegoYacht Club had a better start to the day, with a second and fourth place. Hefollowed this with an eighth in the penultimate race, a result he was able todiscard. He and crewmembers Andrew Palfrey, an Etchells world champion andAmerica’s Cup coach, and Chris Busch held the overall lead going into the finalrace, with a three-point advantage on Thornburrow, while Strong, the EtchellsAustralasian Champion, was just one point adrift in third overall.
Thefinal race, sailed over a five-mile course, saw a dramatic game of snakes andladders playing out on the water. However, before the fleet got awaycompetitors were kept on edge as two huge windshifts during the start sequenceforced a pair of starts to be abandoned while the line and course was reset.
Therace started in a gentle east-south-easterly of 8-10 knots, however as theleaders approached the leeward gate on the first lap, a new wind, shifted 20-30degrees to the south and significantly stronger closed up the fleet. JanMuysken of the Emirates Palace Yacht Club, crewed by David Bedford and MarkLees, led a tight group of boats around the strongly favoured right-hand gate.However, despite having had a good first beat, Strong had dropped to the back.
PrincipalRace Officer Phil Lawrence was on top form, setting a new windward mark toreflect the new wind direction in double-quick time and giving the fleetanother perfect beat that continued to challenge competitors. By the start ofthe final beat Jeremy Thorp of Antigua Yacht Club, last year’s overall winner,held a lead of five lengths over Doug Flynn of the Cruising Club of Australia,and his crew of Steve and Seve Jarvin, with Muysken a further five lengthsfurther back.
Flynncrossed the line first, followed by Thorp. Anthony O’Leary (winner of lastyear’s RORC Yacht of the Year award), Robert O’Leary and Julia Bailey (winnerof the Dragon class’s prestigious Edinburgh Cup) of the Royal Cork Yacht Clubtook third place, all three finishing clear ahead of the drama that was aboutto unfold behind them.
Anumber of boats approached the pin just below the port lay line, includingThornburrow and Strong. Approaching on starboard tack, Carruthers was forced toduck behind a couple. However Jamie Clarke, of the Royal Thames Yacht Club tooka more aggressive approach, forcing a five port tack boats, includingThornburrow and Strong, into a quick tack.
“Wehad the benefit of being in a controlling position over the boats on the lefthand side of the course when the trouble came and it worked out for us,”Strong’s tactician Neville Wittey explained. Carruthers came out badly –scoring a 10th place in the race – while Strong finished fourth and Thornburrowfifth, leaving all three tied on 30 points at the end of the regatta.
“It’sbeen a very challenging event,” says Thornburrow, “with everyone having bothgood and bad races. It was difficult to judge the laylines in the tide and thenthere were the massive wind shifts and changes in pressure in the last race.Phil Lawrence’s race management was fantastic – he set great courses on adifficult day, without keeping us waiting.”
Many thanks go to the event’s fivemain sponsors: Zhik, Spinlock, David Heritage Racing Yachts, Shepards WharfMarina and Edward S Fort, OBE. The event is hosted by the Royal ThamesYacht Club.
Nextyear’s Etchells Invitational Regatta will take place in Cowes from July 30 toAugust 3. Anyone interested in more information, or receiving an invitation,should contact David Franks at email@example.com.It will be followed by the class European Championships from August 26-29 andthe 2016 World Championship from September 2-9.
PhotographyCopyright Notice: Emma Louise Wyn Jones Photography