Four years ago at Ford Cork Week Nick and Anne Haigh would today have been sleeping off the after affects of their overnight offshore race, the first step on their way to winning the Sigma 38 Class overall in Steamy Windows.
After the first day's racing for the new IRM High Performance Class, the newest and some would say most exciting development at Europe's biggest fun regatta, Nick and Anne and their crew find themselves leading overall in their Farr 40 Too Steamy, racing against what are widely regarded as the 540 boat biennial regatta's premier class. In order to try and provide the best racing for similar grand prix style race boats and keep them out of the IRC cruiser racer fleets the Ford Cork Week have required the IRM style boats, and the galaxy of top pro and semi pro crews, to race as a separate fleet, giving a great opportunity to showcase how well the IRM rule provides close racing for similar high performance boats.
With relatively modest sea breeze conditions, 6-12 knots, which rose progressively through the first heat and died back in the second contest the racing was always close and tight.
Getting out of the traffic and into the first big right handed windshift proved a decisive action in the first contest. Glyn Williams' IC 45, with Kevin Sproul calling the shots, ducked through the tussling Farr 52's to gain the benefit first, and rounded the first mark duelling for the lead on the Farr 52 Bear of Britain's windward hip.
In the 40 footers' battle Too Steamy and Robbie Cameron-Davies' Race1Ker 11.3 I-Site battled for the front of this pack, the Farr 40 finally gaining the upper hand by gybe setting into better breeze on the downwind leg. Winner of the first race was the Mumm 30 Tigger sailed by Chris Thorne which made the most of their clear wind at the front of the five Mumm 30's racing in the 21 boat High Performance fleet, always staying in phase with the changes and gaining a margin of only 28 seconds on corrected time over the Haigh's Too Steamy.
With the breeze up slightly for the second heat, the start was vital. With a slight starboard end bias and the right again favoured and a very short course it was vital to get away cleanly and with heavy traffic at the weather mark, to hit a good starboard tack layline or there was no other way of getting into the early line-up.
While Chris Little's Bounder, the IC 45 which has both Neal and Lisa McDonald on board, won the start the Farr 52's seized every advantage as the breeze faded and ran out with a 1,2 as Kit Hobday and Tim Louis' Bear of Britain held off Nick Hewson's Team Tonic while Too Steamy, which has Solo, RS 400 and past multiple winner of the Endeavour Trophy, Geoff Carveth - a relatively recent convert to the big boat scene - calling tactics.
" It's great to be leading after the first day but the standard of racing was great and there seemed to be a chance for all the different sizes of boat to do well today. The beauty of IRM for us with a Farr 40 is that though we bought it 18 months or so ago to go one design racing, here is a rule that really seems to give good close racing against similar boats." Commented Nick Haigh.
After the first two races Too Steamy has a six points overall lead with Team Tonic and I-Site sharing 11pts second and third and the IC 45's Wolf and Bounder locked on 13pts in fourth and fifth.
1 Mumm 30, Tigger (C Thorne) 1hr 54 mins 26 secs,
2 Farr 40, Too Steamy (N & A Haigh) 1:54.54,
3 Race 1/Ker 11.3 I-Site (R Cameron-Davies) 1:55:32,
4 Wolf (G Williams) 1:55.45,
5 Mod Sydney 40, Flash Gordon (S Travis) 1:56.12.
1 Farr 52, Bear of Britain (Hobday/Louis) 1:22.08,
2 Team Tonic (N Hewson) 1:22.08,
3 Too Steamy 1:22.59,
4 Farr 52, Chernikeeff 2 (P Harrison) 1:23.54,
5 Race 1/Ker 11.3 Kerisma (C Bull) 1:24.01.
1 Too Steamy 5pts,
2 Team Tonic 11pts,
3 I-Site 11pts,
4 Wolf 13pts,
5 Bounder (C Little) 13pts.