Three races were held out in the Gulf Stream, off of Miami's South Beach and with the exception of the last race, the wind was much more stable than Tuesday, settling in from the northeast and ranging from ten to 20 knots.
Patches Hot From The Off
Straightaway, Patches seemed to have the bit firmly between her teeth going into yesterday's first race. Although mid pack at the first weather mark rounding, CONNEELY managed to gain the lead on the second beat and reach the finish line first by 26 seconds ahead of his British rival, Stuart ROBINSON's Stay Calm, which in turn squeezed in just ahead of early race leader, Michael BRENNAN's (USA) Sjambok.
In the second race Patches was, again, in the middle of the fleet at the top mark and at the end of the first run became involved in a port-starboard incident with Stay Calm. 'We ended up going around the right-hand gate and everyone went around the left-hand gate,' described Patches' tactician, double Olympic silver medallist, Ian WALKER (GBR). 'Fortunately the crew did a great job and although it was a messy drop they managed to get the kite down okay.'
After rounding the opposite ends of the leeward gate Stay Calm and Patches headed up the beat on opposing tacks - and sides - of the course and were both being lifted. 'We couldn't tack and they couldn't tack and we separated from the whole fleet,' continued WALKER. 'Fortunately for us there was a massive left hander and we took 300 m in 500 m.' While Karl KWOK's (HKG) Beau Geste had been one minute ahead at the leeward gate, this race winning shift launched Patches into the lead to claim a second victory of the day by 1 minute and 43 seconds.
Three In A Row
In the final race, held in conditions as shifty as they were on Tuesday, the afterguard on Patches made the correct calls off the start line. 'We wanted the right and after the start we tacked immediately right, worked a couple of shifts and then there was a huge right hander at the top so again we were launched,' described a jubilant WALKER. Patches rounded the top mark with a 1 minute and 25 second lead over the fleet and went on to win.
The results for Patches yesterday might come as pay back for the boat's keel structural issues suffered in the last few months, which kept it from competing at Acura Key West Race Week and the Rolex Middle Sea Race. 'We are kind of owed a few,' admitted WALKER. 'It's the luck of the Irish. We might go and do the lottery after today's run of good fortune. But it is nice for Eamon. Whatever happens in the rest of the week he has had one hell of a day to remember and he is owed it more than anyone after what happened at Key West and in Malta.'
Up And Down Day For Rush
Elsewhere in the fleet Thomas STARK's (USA) Rush was forced to pull out of the day's first race when a batten end fitting exploded requiring the boat's shore crew to rush a spare mainsail out to the race course. Solid performances in races two and three, enabled Rush to hold onto fourth place overall. In the second race, Charles BURNETT's (USA) Braveheart was also forced to withdraw after becoming entangled with the lines from a lobster pot.
On board KWOK's Beau Geste the feeling is that they are still playing catch up. 'The European guys are a little more refined, more comfortable with their boats and I think that is showing in these changing conditions,' commented Gavin BRADY (NZL). Aside from this, what BRADY feels is making the difference is the ability of teams to recover. 'With the top four or five boats it is who can come back from a bad position in the fleet. We were back in the fleet in the last race and managed to get back to a fifth, but we were last around the last top mark. So it is a case of when you are having a bad race getting back and trying to get a keeper.'
ROBINSON's Stay Calm posted second and third places in the first two races of the day, despite being over early in the second race. 'The boat is going well and our speed is good,' commented double Olympic gold medallist Ben AINSLIE (GBR), who is sailing onboard. 'Yesterday our big problem was starting, today it was much better.'
Today the goalposts will change massively in the Rolex TP52 Global Championship when the boats are sent off on an 18-24 hour long distance race on a course expected to take the boats across to the Bahamas and back. While the last two days have been windward-leeward courses, this course is likely to see more reaching in a lumpy Gulf Stream. The results for this race, scored 1.5 times the windward-leeward race results, could cause a shake up to the overall results.