Fleet leaders face greater competition


The end of season is proving the coming of age for several 1720 Sportsboats competing in the Heineken HYC Autumn League at Howth where at least two boats rose to prominence in yesterday's fourth day of racing.

Dave Cagney's www.1720s.com won the race ahead of Richard and David Burrow's class leader Bond Girl in second place, while Barry O'Neill's Cadbury's Time Out produced a third to lie third overall. Both boats started the season in the lower ranks of the class and yesterday's performance points to increased competition for the fleet leaders.

The fourth race for the big boats of class zero also saw a first place by Alan Chambers' Infinity, which encroached into the usually-exclusive preserve of three leading boats to win both on the water and on Channel handicap (CHS).

The Tripp 40 footer has steadity improved this season following a major optimisation and sail wardrobe investment by her owner.

Among the other classes, racing is still close. The Waterford crew on Midnight Express led by Tom Murphy still dominates class one by a margin of just 1.25 points; an unusual and crippling 14th yesterday for second-placed Equinox cost the local the overall lead.

Last weekend's 14th place for another local boat, this time Aidan Keating's specially-chartered class two entry Expat, is likely to cost the overall event win for class two on CHS. The result may have been due to the absence of Tom Fitzpatrick and David McHugh,who took time out to compete in and win the Dinghy Match Racing Championship.

Their return yesterday saw the boat jump back into first place, but in spite of this result, it still lags behind on points in sixth overall. Eddie Kay's highly-consistent Trudi was second and leads with a clear points gap over Philip Watson's Pathfinder. Next Sunday sees the penultimate race before the finale for the 213-boat fleet on October 18th.

Brunel Sunergy, the Dutch entry in the Whitbread Round the World Race, skippered by Hans Bouscholte, was in collision with a whale early yesterday morning and has lost the bottom 50 centimetres of her rudder. The hull of the boat is undamaged and there is no leakage, but Bouscholte reports that there are some control problems.