by Richard Crockett
A lay-day and a day away from computers brings us towards the end of this regatta where the Old Bulletts of Durban, Campbell Alexander and Dave Herridge have been fighting gamely in a tough fleet to keep in the top 15 overall. At the moment with just the final day left, they are 17th (out of 72), having dropped two places yesterday.
After the layday on Wednesday three more races were held in typical puffy and choppy conditions in Dublin Bay. A day of contrasting fortunes begun at midday under semi-overcast skies with a blustery 15 – 19 knot Westerly accompanied by a sharp chop influenced by a changing tidal flow across the race course.
There was however drama on the finish line as regatta leaders Graham Vials and Chris Turner (Derwent Reservoir SC) were involved in a collision which holed their boat. Although their finish position was recorded as 23rd, the former world champions were forced to come ashore to make urgent repairs. At the resulting protest hearing they were awarded redress for the two races missed ashore.
The final race of the day (R10) was started with a clean start and an even split inshore and offshore. A crowded first rounding saw another new leader (briefly), in Chris Villa and Mark Holmes and South Africa’s Campbell Alexander and Dave Herridge in the mix.
Alexander and Herridge finished the day with a 19; 16 & 15 to be 15th overall – after the second discard came into play.
On the penultimate day, and after the disappointment of sitting out two races due to boat damage in a collision for which they were awarded redress, Britain’s Graham Vials and Chris Turner are on the verge of winning their 4th world title after a flawless race yesterday.
The 72 boat fleet were kept ashore for two hours whilst the offshore breeze settled down enough to send the fleet out. It took several recalls and one abandoned race after the wind shifted all round the compass. Under dark black rain clouds and some light rain, finally the Dublin Bay breeze decided to go back to the NW/W sector for long enough for the PRO Jack Roy to set a longer length windward / leeward race-course.
Under black flag the fleet started around 15h45 in 16 – 19 knots sailing in the now familiar short chop. The first upwind was well spread from one side of the course to the other and it was difficult to predict a top mark leader. Early in the race Graham Vials and Chris Turner appeared to be ducking sterns but as all true champions do, they seem to carve a lane for themselves to appear at the windward mark in the lead.
They carved out a handsome lead at the turn at the gate and kept extending their lead throughout the race, finishing with a healthy 1 min 30 secs lead over second place.
Our old bullets had a bad day finishing 27th and dropping down to 17th overall.
The final race of the championship is scheduled for today, and one hopes that our guys have the energy left to pull of a really good final race. We will have to wait and see.