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  • Writer's pictureClassic Regattas Limited

Light fantastic for concluding day in Falmouth

With everything to play for in today’s Leg 1 final inshore races of the Richard Mille Cup, including overall group wins, the stage was set for intense racing today. With the sun peeping through the clouds and an 8-10kt northwesterly breeze, and flat seas, crews switched into light-air mode once again to enjoy the tip-top racing in Falmouth Bay. 


Light winds it may have been before the start, but the wind increased to a good working breeze just as racing got underway, which meant there was no shortage of excitement among both fleets (starting in size order – smallest boats first – using the CIM handicap rating system) off Pendennis Point. The fleet was also graced with the presence of the two largest yachts at the event – the 136.5ft schooner Elena, and the 185ft three-masted schooner Atlantic – who also wowed the spectators who’d turned up to watch the racing from Pendennis Point lookout. 


Back on the racecourse, it was all change at the front of the fleet in Black group in the early stages, with Sir Keith Mills’ Viveka, the 1929-built 72.75ft Fred Lawley schooner, winning the start from group leader Mariquita. With mix of seasoned racing sailors onboard Viveka including Rob Gray, David Aisher and Keith Mills’ son Alex, this team looked dominant up the first beat but it was the equally fast team on Moonbeam IV who negotiated the tricky, shifty conditions well and led Mariquita round the top mark. 


Spurred on by the competition, it wasn’t too long on the first downwind leg before Mariquita had reverted to her default position at the head of the fleet. Viveka and Moonbeam IV pushed her hard but Mariquita won on the water by nearly 14 minutes, which meant she was the clear winner of not only the race but, with two previous wins from the first two days, took the overall win in Black Group. 


Jacques Caraes, Mariquita skipper commenting as he stepped ashore said: “It was a truly fantastic day on the water, with a nice breeze and flat water, but very tactical and shifty. Our start wasn’t as good as we’d have liked but we carried out some good moves and pulled out a good lead by the finish.” 


Moonbean IV managed to hold on to second place on corrected time and third overall, while a third place today for Viveka was enough to leave her with an overall Leg 1 second place. 


Alex Mills from aboard Viveka chatting about the regatta said it’s an enjoyable event and good racing, and enhanced by the fact this is the first time the boat has visited the UK. “It was also only three years ago she made her debut in Europe racing on the Med circuit.” Viveka was built in Massachusetts and, according to Mills, has spent most of her life in the Pacific. Commenting on her plans after the finish of the Richard Mille Cup, Viveka is having a bit of a holiday. “My dad plans to take her Lymington, Hampshire, for a few weeks before heading back to the Med.” 


While there is no doubt the big, raunchy classics in Black group steal the show in terms of wow factor, some of the closest racing this week so far has been in the Blue group with four boats at the top of the fleet taking the results of Leg 1 inshore racing down to the wire. Today was a classic example. While the Black group was engaged in a power race, two boats (Ayesha and Cynthia) in particular in Blue group engaged themselves in dinghy-style, race-long battle that at times left them just metres apart. 


It was a delight to watch and, even when they split tacks up the beat, and came back together again on cross tacks, they were always neck and neck. Ayesha finally took control in the closing stages and not only won the day, but also claimed the overall win of Blue group for the second year running. Patna who won the class yesterday had to settle for second place overall on corrected time, while Kelpie took third. 


As he stepped ashore from a taxing day on the water this afternoon, Tim Allen – son-in-law of Ayesha’s owner Richard Bond – commented: “It was a great day with not a lot of sea, and perfect wind for us, and we are delighted to have won the Falmouth leg once again. It was a tactical race with the wind up and down throughout. Cynthia was closer to us than she has been all week and determined to overtake us, and then she did. From there on it was swap and change for the entire race, with each of us taking control at some point. It was amazingly enjoyable racing from start to finish and the team is looking forward to the next leg.” 


The prizegiving for the Falmouth inshore racing, and farewell dinner is taking place this evening at the National Maritime Museum, which is perfectly located overlooking the moored yachts on the pontoons below. The sun continues to shine on Falmouth, and with similar wind expected tomorrow, all bodes well for a pleasant day of racing on the 65nm passage race to Dartmouth.


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