Oscar Strugstad (GBR) is the leader of the Farr 40 European Championship after the first two races organised by the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble, Great Britain.
His Dawn Raid scored a fifth in the first race and was third in the afternoon to total eight points, one better than Gaetan Janssens of Belgium, whose Dune won the first race and was eighth in the next.
It was a day when the westerly breeze increased in strength from 15-16 knots for the first race to 20-22 for the second. The result was hard, close racing with the occasional wipe-out on the later downwind legs and the odd shredded spinnaker. Racing in the Solent with the ebb tide against a brisk sea-breeze is always likely to provide pitfalls.
For the first race however, the flood tide was still in effect and in general boats that took the right hand side of the course, in towards the Hill Head shore, found some relief from the current on the first windward leg. Mark Heeley in GBR 25 was first to the windward mark, followed closely by Janssens.
On the run, Tony Buckingham moved into the lead briefly to round the left hand mark of the gate and go inshore. With Gery Trentesaux calling tactics, Janssens took Dune out to the right hand mark and when the wind went left, he leapt into the lead and rounded the windward mark the second time in front of Ernesto Bertarelli sailing Alinghi.
The head of the Swiss America's Cup syndicate had four of his top sailors with him and tenaciously guarded his position on the three succeeding legs, but could make no impact on the leader. Janssens, who sails the first boat ever to emerge from Carroll Marine's factory in Rhode Island, stretched the lead to over a minute.
John Oswald in Game On took third place, finishing fast to overtake Buckingham in Bit of a Coup, with Dawn Raid safely in fifth place ahead of Nick Haigh's Too Steamy.
Race two saw one premature starter - Mark Timbrell's Forza - and Jim Richardson emerging fast from the pin end of the line. With the wily Adrian Stead calling tactics, Richardson was soon able to tack Barking Mad and head toward the right hand side where a favourable shift confirmed his early lead.
Once ahead, Richardson knows well how to stay there, and as the breeze piped up, his position became more sure. It became safer still when on the last of the six legs, the reigning world champion, John Calvert-Jones in Southern Star, broached after gybing and shredded a spinnaker. The replacement was soon up and drawing, but Richardson was away and four boats went past.
Tony de Mulder in Victric V, always a potent performer in a breeze, led the bunch acroos the line, just ahead of Strugstad and Philip Tolhurst's Warlord.
Results (all provisional):
1. Dune - G.Janssens (BEL)
2. Alinghi - E.Bertarelli (SUI)
3. Game On - J.Oswald (GBR)
4. A Bit of a Coup - A.Buckingham (GBR)
5. Dawn Raid - O.Strugstad (GBR)
6. Too Steamy - N.Haigh (GBR)
1. Barking Mad - J.Richardson (USA)
2. Victric V A de Mulder (GBR)
3. Dawn Raid - O.Strugstad (GBR)
4. Warlord VI - P.Tolhurst (GBR)
5. 2XL - D.Murrin (GBR)
6. Southern Star - J. Calvert-Jones (AUS)
Points after two races:
1. Dawn Raid 8
2. Dune 9
3. Barking Mad 11
4. Game On 12
5. 2XL 12
6. Warlord VI 13
Note: The photo accompanying this article is not taken at this event.