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19 September 2005, 11:27 am
Billy Wins
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Sonar European Championship 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

The third and final day of the Sonar European Championship was again dominated by the weather, but unlike on day one, when strong winds caused racing to be abandoned, the problem on Sunday was lack of wind.
After a short postponement to allow a light breeze to stabilise, the Chief Race Officer, Tony CHILVERS of the Island Sailing Club, got the first race underway in a light northerly with the windward leeward course positioned on the Brambles Bank.

With the port end favoured, there was a scrimmage for the pole position and Ewan MACKAY in Wombat 11 was forced over early along with Echo. With the fleet starting behind them they were trapped and could only wait to be passed before returning to recross the line. Geronimo, Jenny, Scintillate, Bertie and Billy all extricated themselves quickly from the start and headed up the beat on a lifted port tack.

Initially, the left hand side of the course was favoured with a lifted angle and more pressure but as the boats sailed up the beat the leaders were headed and were able to tack onto starboard and lay the windward mark, many overstanding by several boat lengths.

Billy led around the top mark by several boat lengths with Chimera in second and Bertie in third. Scintillate rounded fourth while Jenny, the overnight leader, went round in fifth, followed by the Israelis.

The leaders all gybed to port and sailed very high to maintain boat speed. Billy gybed to starboard and sailed down the middle of the course while the rest of the fleet split between the far right and far left of the run. Although the right side looked to be favourable, the left of the course proved to be the best choice as Chimera passed Billy and led around the bottom mark with Scintillate in third, Bertie fourth and then Jenny in fifth.

Back up the beat, the leaders favoured the right of the beat and Chimera led around the windward mark for the second time as the breeze picked up to nearly ten knots, followed by Billy. Chimera gybed immediately to port while Billy held on starboard and split from the leader. After a few minutes Billy gybed back to follow Chimera to the left side of the run.

Scintillate rounded third and gybed to port while Bertie rounded fourth and split with the leaders and headed right. Jenny rounded fifth and also gybed to take the left side of the run as did most of the following pack.

Halfway down the run Billy slipped through Chimera and led into the final leeward mark with a large gap to Scintillate in third. With the tide now running strongly to the west the leeward mark was hard to round as boats slowed while they dropped their spinnakers. The tide also meant that the final leg was a one tack hitch to the line with no chance of place changing.

At the line it was Billy who led from Chimera with Scintillate in third, only to discover that they had been OCS at the start so all their hard work had been for nothing.

While the leaders rounded the leeward mark in reasonable pressure it was a different story for the tailenders who struggled to stem the ever increasing tide as the wind slowly died.

By the time the last boat finished, the wind had died to virtually nothing, leaving the CRO with no choice but to hoist the AP and wait for the wind to return.

Unfortunately, it was to be a fruitless two-hour wait as the fleet anchored and crews sunbathed close to the committee boat. At just after 14:00 the N over A was hoisted to signal an abandonment and the crew of Billy became the 2005 European Champions. With only five of the scheduled nine races sailed there was no discard allowed and Billy won by a single point from Jenny, with Bertie in third another seven points behind.

Now all attention will turn to the World Championship which will be staged in a week's time, also in Cowes, but run by the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club. It will be interesting to see if the top local boats like Billy and Jenny can match the speed of the visiting Americans who include the current World Champion and several other top US Sonar sailors.

Final Results - Top Ten

Pos Nation Boat Name Helm Crew R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Pts
1 GBR Billy Shaun KELLET Paul BOWEN, Duncan BATES, Dave THOMPSON 4 1 1 4 1 11
2 GBR Jenny Andy CASSELL Rudy DURE, Henry BAGNELL, Simon CLARKE 2 3 3 1 3 12
3 GBR Bertie Simon BARTER Donald WILKS, James BARTER, Alistair BARTER 3 5 4 3 4 19
4 ISR Shellie Droh COHEN Arnon EFRATI, Beni VEXLER, Dafni YORAM 1 2 9 6 6 24
5 GBR Echo John MCINTOSH Craig SMITH, Mark DYER, Barry BYHAM 6 6 5 2 7 26
6 GBR Geronimo Geoff SKINNER Belinda SKINNER 10 4 6 5 5 30
7 GBR Chimera John ROBERTSON Hannah STODEL, Stephen THOMAS, John WAITE 5 7 2 15(OCS) 2 31
8 GBR Halfing A Laugh Arthur WYLIE John BEATTIE, Jamie DOBSON, Angus SMART, Angus Macneil 7 10 7 9 13 46
9 GBR Wombat 2 Ewan MACKAY Dave JONES, Kevin WEST, John PATIENCE 8 8 15(DSQ) 7 8 46
10 GBR Williams F1 Tim NEWTON 11 9 15 (DSQ) 8 10 53
Steve Sleight (As Amended by ISAF), Image: © Event Media
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