After the first day of racing yesterday, there are three boats at the top of the leaderboard, and in the words of the recently crowned European Champion, Oscar Strugstad, 'It just shows how close the fleet is.'
Strugstad, however, is not one of the leaders, having had a far from good day on the water, scoring uncharacteristically an eleventh and a 20th.
The day was shared between Tony Buckingham (GBR) in A Bit of a Coup, John Coumantaros (USA) in Bambakou and the reigning world champion, John Calvert-Jones (AUS). By the very slightest edge of the count-back, Buckingham, who won the second race, is adjudged the leader but all three have the same eight points. Buckingham had a seventh in the first race, while Coumantaros had a third and fifth and Calvert Jones had two fourth places.
'A win in this series is always nice to have,' said a delighted Buckingham, 'It's a very competitive fleet - I always said that when I've been down at the back.' He explained his victory in the second race as being able to tack on to port soon after the start and go right up the first beat. 'It paid off big time and when [Hughes Lepic in] Aleph went left on the second beat, Michael Coxon kept us going right. It was well done Cocko!'
The 1998 world champion, Jim Richardson with Barking Mad, began the regatta in fine style, sailing from the middle of the starting line and able to tack after two minutes on to port tack in clear air. It was a sign of things to come that the right hand side of the course paid and Barking Mad rounded the first mark with a 14 second lead.
As the boats shot off on the run in the 18-20 knot westerly breeze, that lead looked enormous. Southern Star was next with Bambakou and Massimo Mezzaroma's Nerone from Italy in pursuit. While Barking Mad consolidated her lead, the others swapped places frequently on the three round, windward - leeward course with 1.5 mile legs. At the finish, Nerone took second place from Bambakou with Southern Star fourth and Switzerland's Ernesto Bertarelli in Alinghi fifth.
By the time the second race had started, the breeze had backed slightly into the south-west and increased to 22-24 knots with gusts up to 26. Buckingham in A Bit of a Coup was "launched" early in the race and never looked as though he would be passed, despite the early close attention of Hughes Lepic of France in Aleph, who was able to hold this second place to the finish.
Philip Tolhurst in Warlord VII was 14th at the first mark and gained places all the way round to finish third. Southern Star was fourth and Bambakou fifth.
The Championship will conclude on Saturday .15 September 2001 with 9 races scheduled.
Provisional Top Ten Results - Day 1, after 2 Races
1. GBR98R - A Bit of a Coup - 7.00 - 1.00 - Total Points 8.00
2. USA51581 - Bambakou - 3.00 - 5.00 - Total Points 8.00
3. AUS1770 - Southern Star - 4.00 - 4.00 - Total Points 8.00
4. USA50955 - Barking Mad - 1.00 - 10.00 - Total Points 11.00
5. GBR46R - Aleph - 9.00 - 2.00 - Total Points 11.00
6. USA51641 - Alinghi - 5.00 - 7.00 - Total Points 12.00
7. GBR7400R - Warlord VII - 11.00 - 3.00 - Total Points 14.00
8. USA40038 - Predator - 6.00 - 12.00 - Total Points 18.00
9. BEL6000 - Dune - 15.00 - 6.00 - Total Points 21.00
10. GBR10R - 2XL - 14.00 - 8.00 - Total Points 22.00