Although the committee boat and all four Js went out into Falmouth Bay expecting to compete on Friday, the fourth race in the Falmouth J Class regatta was cancelled because of strong winds.
'The wind was consistently over the limit the captains had given us at our end of the course,' says race officer John Pickup. 'Rainbow told us 45 minutes before the start time that they weren’t going to race and we had indications that Velsheda didn’t want to either so there didn’t seem to be much choice.'
'For us we are in a bit of a different situation as the boat is brand new and we are still learning a lot about her,' says Rainbow’s captain, Nick Hayley. 'Relative to the other boats we have done a lot less sailing and it seemed a prudent move. We were all of the same opinion but it was the owner who very much decided he didn’t want his boat to be sailing today.'
However, Ranger and Lionheart decided to have a sail and they beat out towards Porthallow where the windward mark would have been. Meanwhile Velsheda motored back towards Falmouth harbour where they collected Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence who were on a private visit to the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. Sails were immediately hoisted and Velsheda then sailed out of the Carrick Roads looking awesome with her rig towering over St Mawes Castle and then St Anthony’s lighthouse on her way out to sea.
In the final race on Saturday, held in a south-westerly breeze of around 22 knots, Rainbow was over the line at the start. After returning to the correct side, she did manage to make gains on the other boats and was very close to Velsheda when her spinnaker was dropped into the water and forced her to retire. Meanwhile, Lionheart established an early lead followed by Ranger and Velsheda, and held them off until the finish with a winning margin of just half a minute.
However, the J Class race under a handicap system, albeit with very small rating differences, and for the first time in this regatta the corrected times altered the positions, and Ranger was awarded first place by 35 seconds. With three out of four races to count, that gave her identical results to Velsheda - two firsts and a second – but the 'last race' tie-break system gave her overall victory. 'It was perfect weather today and we have a very happy owner,' says Alastair Tait, Ranger’s captain.