At 1000hrs on the fourth day of racing it was blowing a steady 32 knots gusting to 37 knots. On arrival at the club the sailors were greeted with a torrential cloud burst and all hope of racing looked lost.
Not many believed the meteorologist at the 1100 hrs briefing that the front would pass through by early afternoon and the winds would moderate. However for once the weather man was right and after a postponement ashore the fleet set sail in bright sunshine and 15 knots of wind.
Mark LITTLEJOHN (GBR) regained his overall lead in the Apprentice group leading the first race from start to finish, whilst his main rival, Steve COCKERILL (GBR), scored an eighth. In the second race Littlejohn said: "That was a toughie. There was a shift to the right but the left still paid. I didn't understand that at all. I was stuck between the two and rounded the first mark about 8th and then clawed my way back up to third, one place behind Steve. Overall it was great sailing but hard work".
Cockerill is now in second place overall, three points behind Littlejohn. In the Masters fleet Anders SORENSSON (SWE) is still in front, even though he scored his worst result of the week in the first race, a ninth. This race was one by Nick HARRISON (GBR) who is clearly enjoying the stronger winds and starting to put together a good string of results after struggling in the lighter winds of the first 4 races.
Harrison also won the second race ahead of Alexander NIKOLAEV (RUS), with Sorensson fourth. Nikolaev's third in the first race has closed the gap on Sorensson and elevated him to second overall after Chris RAAB (USA) scored an 18 and a 16.
There was also a change in the overall lead in the Grand Masters with Keith WILKINS regaining the lead after a fifth and a first. Mark BETHWAITE (AUS) continued his string of first places with a convincing win in the first race ahead of Kim WEBER (FIN).
In the second race Bethwaite started near the port end of the line and held a long tack out to left. Wilkins started at the committee boat and worked the middle. At the end of the first downwind Jack HANSEN (NZL) held the lead, with Wilkins in third and Bethwaite in sixth. After the second loop Wilkins was up to second with Bethwaite ninth. On the last reach Wilkins sailed through Hansen's lee to win comfortably.
Previous overall leader, Kevin PEARSON (GBR), scored a sixth and an eighth which leaves him seven points adrift of Wilkins as Bethwaite climbs two more places to third overall.
In the Radial Fleet the various age groups were well mixed, with again the over 65's and the women featuring at the front. In the Great Grand Masters Division Alan PEDERSEN crossed the line fourth in the mixed fleet to score his first win in his division. The first and second overall, Peter SEIDENBURG (USA) and Tom SPEED (NZL), only managed a seventh and ninth, which hurt Speed more than Seidenberg as Seidenberg can at present discard the seventh place. These two finished first and second in the second race of the day so Seidenberg extends his lead to nine points.