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1 November 2005, 04:30 pm
Perfect Conditions In The Caribbean
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Pete Sheals Memorial Match Race 2005
British Virgin Islands

On Saturday 29 October six teams assemble at the Royal British Virgin Islands Yacht Club (RBVIYC) for the fourth annual Pete Sheals Memorial Match race. Unlike last year there was a good breeze blowing with whitecaps in the channel. The first day saw the teams competing in a round robin to decide the top four who would progress through to Sunday's finals.
In perfect conditions the races were rattled off using four IC24s. Andrew WATERS managed a perfect score by beating everyone including Robby HIRST. HIRST only lost to WATERS so progressed to the final too. Team Bungie and Di FLYNN did not manage to beat anyone, despite winning a couple of starts. It must be said that all the other teams regularly race the IC24's but this was BUNGIE's first time both match racing and helming an IC24. Despite amassing 'nul points' his team showed great enthusiasm and thoroughly enjoyed their day afloat.

At the end of the day poor Robin TATTERSALL, Saturday's floating umpire, was left scratching his head under the tree at TMM. Chris HAYCRAFT, WOOLDRIDGE and Colin RATHBUN each had two wins and could not be separated so it was decided to have a three boat race first thing on Sunday morning to throw one team out.

Sunday morning saw the race course moved inside Road Harbor with a gusty southeasterly and more sunshine. The three way race with fleet rules and starboard roundings got underway. RATHBUN, seemingly forgot about the switch to fleet rules and went after both HAYCRAFT and WOOLDRIDGE like a gunship. He was jumping up and down waving his stripy flag until the other teams managed to convince him that fleet rules were in play. Come the start WOOLDRIDGE was pinned against the pin, over early and touched the mark, RATHBUN in irons close by. WOOLDRIDGE bore off and restarted still ahead of RATHBUN who was struggling to get going. HAYCRAFT in the meantime was well ahead and cruising to a certain first place. Team WOOLDRIDGE still had to do a turn for hitting the mark which they managed without losing second place. Team RATHBUN battled hard but became the second team to be eliminated.

Now for the finals and a clean sheet for all. Team WATERS had no problem taking three in a row from Team WOOLDRIDGE putting them in the finals. The action got really interesting with Team HAYCRAFT taking on Team HIRST. With the score at 2-1 to HIRST, HAYCRAFT had to win the next race to stay in the match. Having the starboard advantage he steamed into the box and engaged HIRST. After a few dial ups HAYCRAFT was luffed hard by HIRST. In keeping clear, HAYCRAFT's transom went dangerously close to the HIRST's boat and HAYCRAFT pulled his flag. No flag from HIRST… a ball went up on the umpire's boat. HAYCRAFT assumes this is against the HIRSTS which is a fair assumption given that there was no flag raised by HIRST.

However the plot thickened. HAYCRAFT entered the box flying both yellow and blue flags when he should have only had the starboard, yellow flag flying. Team HIRST had their port, blue flag flying. PHILLIPS saw HAYCRAFT's blue flag first after the incident and duly raised a yellow ball signifying a foul against HIRST. Only then did he realize that the blue ball should have gone up, he had in fact penalized HAYCRAFT. Poor Haycraft went on racing thinking that HIRST would be trying to take his penalty near the finish after first engaging to try and cancel it out. However HIRST realized the yellow ball meant that HAYCRAFT had the turn to do and they went on to simply sail across the line with HAYCRAFT close behind. That left WATERS against HIRST in the final and HAYCRAFT against WOOLDRIDGE in the petit finals.

HAYCRAFT salvaged some pride by beating WOOLDRIDGE 2-1 take third place. In the final WATERS got off to a flying start and won the first race after winning the start and defending well. Race two saw HIRST get one back by protecting the left hand side of the beat where they found a nice gain. Race three saw WATERS over early at the start and that was that making race four a do-or-die affair.

After another intense pre-start WATERS started behind HIRST carrying a penalty. This looked like being game over but WATERS ground up the middle and right and started a tacking duel. Somehow he managed to ping HIRST and the penalties were cancelled out. Right at the windward mark WATERS caught HIRST on a port starboard getting a penalty on HIRSTS. They reached off downwind with HIRST trying to get back into the match but WATERS shut the door, protected the inside and went on to level the match at 2-2.

In the final pre start there were no penalties but HIRST got away a few feet ahead. He protected his lead and WATERS fails to do another Houdini like trick despite a gallant effort. The game was over and the Pete Sheals trophy goes to team HIRST for the second year running. Whilst on the subject of seconds, this becomes Team WATERS fifth second place in this event.

Richard Wooldridge (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from the final:© Caribbean Racing
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