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  • Writer's pictureClassic Regattas Limited

Cracking start

Updated: Jun 4

Anyone fortunate enough to witness the first start of the Richard Mille Cup 2024 would have been wowed by the sheer elegance of the fleet as it crossed the line. Even in the extremely light northerly breeze that reached no more than 7kts in the early stages, crews embraced the conditions and began the first beat in spectacular style.  


While it was, at times, difficult to find enough pressure to make a decent start, there was no shortage of jostling for positions at the five-minute countdown to the start in both fleets (Blue and Black).  


In an effort to keep racing sharp and exciting for both fleets (starting in size order – smallest boats first – using the CIM handicap rating system), the race committee laid good, light air-friendly courses.  


Today was all about tactics in the shifty winds, and making the right decisions at the right time. One team that was clearly on a mission having won the Falmouth leg of the inaugural regatta last year was Richard Bond’s Ayesha. She sailed a cracking downwind leg in the early stages and really gave Kelpie, the stunning Alfred Mylne 57ft one-design a run for her money.   


They managed to reel in Kelpie downwind, and hung on to their spinnaker for longer which meant they gained a huge advantage at the first leeward mark and consequently took the lead for a short while on the next leg of the course.   


Amy Creeden from Fowey, who was on the helm said: “Yes, we were delighted with that and the fact we pulled away from Cynthia our main competitor. Our plan is to keep up the momentum tomorrow, although more wind may affect our plans a bit.”  


Spurred on by the hot competition, and with a bit more wind to play with, team Kelpie sailed well and managed to shake off Ayesha by the end of the beat. From there as the wind increased slightly in the latter stages of the race, they held on to their lead, not only taking line honours but also their first race win on corrected time. Ayesha was second, and the 41.5ft locally built gaff cutter Cynthia took third overall on corrected time.  


James Gair boat captain on Kelpie commenting on today’s race win said: “It was a tough one for us with Ayesha nipping at our heels the whole day. They sailed well but although they slipped ahead at one point on a fabulous reach we won it back thanks to the latter part of the race, which was more on the wind. Because of Kelpie’s longer waterline, longer legs on the course, and with a bit more wind, we took the advantage back.”  


The glamour of the big boat class never ceases to thrill and it was on the penultimate leg, on the beat, where position changes among the on-the-water leaders took place. There was never really any doubt about the performance of Mariquita as she led off the line. She strutted round the course with ease, while behind the crew aboard the pretty 72.75ft schooner Viveka worked hard to gain every inch of advantage on second placed Moonbeam IV. Their tactics paid off when they slipped in a sneaky tack just after the leeward mark and took advantage of a favourable lift and headed out to sea. It was a bit of a gamble but it was a move that paid off because they managed to overtake Moonbeam IV and secure second place on the water and overall on corrected time.  


Manual Castilla member of the afterguard on Mariquita commenting on today’s opening race win said: “It was a good start and we managed to play the shifts well which was the key today. The wind was all over the place but generally it paid to head inshore and over on the left-hand side of the course. The plan tomorrow is to leave the dock at 0845. We’ve already put in a reef because the wind will be up to 15-20kts maybe more. It should be an exciting one tomorrow.”  


The second inshore race here in Falmouth will take place tomorrow with a scheduled 1030 first start. The forecast is for more wind (15-17kts from the west) with gusts possibly exceeding 20kts. In the meantime, crews are back on shore soaking up the atmosphere and splendid hospitality at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club.


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