Glorious sunshine and cobalt blue skies welcomed the yachts and spectator boats on the water for the first race day of the 2014 Pendennis Cup, but the unpredictable light winds meant the fleet was to find conditions challenging throughout the three hour race in Falmouth Bay.
The start order for Day 1 began with Kelpie followed by Mariette, although by the time the fleet rounded the first windward ‘Burgess’ mark Velacarina had caught the two lead vessels.
Christopher had a great start and had caught the leading boats rounding this first buoy with the newly restored Kelpie following closely behind. At this point the fleet was still maintaining close distance, with Adix marching up the course, keen to hunt down the back of the fleet as the yachts headed past the entrance to the Helford.
With a SSW wind at 8-10 knots the yachts were battling in the bay, with the 2011 Pendennis built Christopher pushing ahead launching her dramatic red chile spinnaker as she rounded ‘Helston’. The much smaller 21m Breakaway was close behind, with the race behind between Velacarina, Mariette and Kelpie looking tight. Christopher and Breakaway tussled for the lead as the fleet spread out dramatically during the next leg, with Breakaway gaining ground and rounding the third mark ‘Gylly Beach Café’ in first place.
The fleet was split across the bay on the second upwind leg to the ‘Romeo’ mark. As the race unfolded an interesting balance of tactics and sail combinations were engaged, with the leading yacht Breakaway perfectly suited to making the most of the wind changes falling off the coast whilst the larger yachts started on a coastal track then moved out to sea to take advantage of the more consistent sea breezes to fill their sails. It proved to be a winning tactic by Breakaway as she sped back towards the Helford, making the most of the wind shifts when she once again turned north, flying her spinnaker and stretching her legs dramatically taking off from the fleet, rounding the next ‘Zone 1 Day’ mark before the rest of the fleet.
Christopher and Velacarina were neck and neck during the last leg, and although Christopher was next over the line, sounding her cannon as she passed the castle above, on rating adjustment her final place was in third behind Velacarina, the next yacht to complete the course a few hundred yards later. Mariette had tussled with Adix on the final turn leg launching her gollywobbler as Adix flew her kite, but Mariette gained the advantage as the winds lulled, giving her fourth position. Adix competed almost bow to bow with Kelpie, with Kelpie being was awarded fifth place ahead of Adix on amended time.
The Class 2 Little Dennis Fleet enjoyed the calmer seas and crept up on the Pendennis Cup fleet throughout the race. All four yachts started within 5 seconds of each other on the gun with Firebrand having the best start hotly pursued by Cerinthe, Cuilaun and Zarik. Throughout the course all boats stayed close until the second round when the fleet spread with the wind variations. Spectators enjoyed the beautiful sight of the four Little Dennis fleet yachts alongside the Pendennis Cup fleet as they flew their spinnakers with Firebrand maneuvering in between the larger boats as she stretched her lead. Firebrand led the division throughout the second half of the course eventually winning by a clear 10minute margin hidden amongst the larger Pendennis Cup fleet yachts.
The lighter winds provided a fantastic challenge for the first day’s race with the glorious sunshine showing the yachts at their most spectacular amongst a large spectator fleet in Falmouth Bay. The forecast for Wednesday is a stronger north westerly which should create a more dramatic race amongst the larger yachts.
For more information and a table of results visit www.thependenniscup.com. The race can also be watched on the tractrac website: http://www.tractrac.com/