After a day when winds gusting over 30 knots sorted out the men from the boys, Spain has retaken the lead with a one point margin in the 2003 Admiral's Cup.
The King of Spain's Bribon Telefonica Movistar continued its almost perfect performance, with two more first places, while their main rival, Bob OATLEY'S Wild Oats, representing Australia's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, had it's first result outside the top three, scoring sixth and third places in the two Inshore Races sailed today.
In the small boat, IMS 600 fleet, Pedro Campos on Telefonica Movistar was also consistent, chalking up a pair of second places, while Australia's Aftershock, owned by Colin O'Neil, put a first and an third on the scoreboard.
Even some of the big names were seen in a state of disarray as the sail shredding, south westerly winds blasted up the Solent, and tested any small deficiency in boat handling skills, particularly on the down wind legs.
Bribon Telefonica Movistar, of the Real Club Nautico Sangenjo, won the second race of the day despite a dramatic wipe out on the first downwind leg, "it was blowing 28 knots and increasing,"
explained tactician Eddie Warden Owen.
"Andrew Cape (the navigator) was telling us we were past the lay line, and we just had to turn the corner. Although we wiped out, there was no damage to the boat or the crew, it was a good race - tough but fast."
Colin BEASHEL at the helm of Aftershock was particularly impressive with his control of the Rodman 42 IMS boat as the gusts went over 30 knots, Adrienne CAHALAN the navigator on board said, "no one wanted to be in Colin Beashel's shoes today, and we didn't want to look behind us, in case it psyched us out."
Aftershock had taken the lead soon after the boats turned downwind, with Beashel working the boat down the waves in a calm and efficient way, "there were a few heavy moments,"
he admitted, "it was just a case of keeping the boat on her feet."
England's double Olympic Medallist, Ben AINSLIE sailing Chernikeeff 4 in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Sailability Team, also had moments today he'd rather forget, including a major wipe out, and a blown headsail, however he still managed to chalk up first and fifth places.
Eddie Warden Owen is certainly excited by the prospect of a do-or-die final race, the 400 mile Wolf Rock race from Cowes, down the English Channel and back again, "it's great, it's good that it's all on the last race, it's between us and the Australians, either team can win."
Australia last won the Admiral's Cup in 1979, while the Spanish have never put their name on this trophy, which when it was first contested in 1957, was the first international offshore team trophy.