Catapult keeps Ireland out in front in Commodores' Cup
In what could have been a lottery result, Ireland retained their overall lead of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup at Cowes yesterday after a 16-hour offshore race around the English Channel.
Fast sailing conditions in the early stages of the 118-mile race meant the smaller boats were able to cling on to the mid-size yachts and some of bigger entries for most of the day.
Only the biggest, fastest boats were able to pull away as the breeze began to fail close to nightfall, including Ireland's Catapult, that was first across the finishing line.
After handicap corrections, the Irish crew placed third in the fleet of 27 boats.
Irish team captain Anthony O'Leary on Antix wasn't nearly as fortunate. Having opened the week-long series with two consecutive race wins on Sunday, the Crosshaven skipper was facing a bruising last place in the fleet as he was unable to shake off the smaller boats close behind.
But a change in wind direction towards the finish meant a finishing place of 20th on handicap, gaining crucial places in a race that had a bonus 2.5x factor.
Michael Boyd and Niall Dowlings' Quokka 8 also fared well, placing 11th overall. The outcome leaves Ireland with a comfortable overall lead though only one-third of the way through the series and still with two more high-scoring races remaining.
Adding to the uncertainty is the fine weather with temperatures close to 30 degrees but no sign of a sea breeze around the Solent inshore waters.
That concern has prompted the Royal Ocean Racing Club organisers to bring forward the start of today's single race by one hour as the latest forecast suggests no wind in the afternoon.