From a nailbiting finale, a fitting conclusion to what felt like a long, hard three-day 12 race regatta that enjoyed winds from 5kts to 18kts Ian Southworth and Team Hamble successfully retained the Quarter Ton Cup on the Solent out of Cowes today.
The veteran crew of Protis held off a sustained, spirited challenge from Louise Morton and her all-girl crew on Bullet who finished runners-up as they also did in 2019 when the event was last contested.
In so doing the crew comprising Southworth, John Santy, Lincoln Redding, Mike Stannard and Led Pritchard fittingly marked the 40th anniversary of their boat’s memorable triumph in the original Quarter Ton Cup in Marseille, France when co-skippered by French sailing legend Bruno Trouble.
In 1981 Protis’ original title win in the heyday of the class was secured by Trouble and crew at the end of one of the most epic offshore races of the Quarter Tonners’ long history, a 180 nautical miles passage along the coast to Saint Raphael which finished in a 55-60kts Mistral wind.
Both Protis and her nearest rival Cifraline – the only two boats left in the race of the 21 which started – spent the last night of the race sheltering at anchor before finishing back into Marseille the following afternoon.
Team Hamble had an altogether tamer trial today to secure the Quarter Ton Cup for their second successive time. Southworth was making his name winning GP14 and Enterprise dinghy titles 40 years ago when his boat was giving designer Jacques Fauroux a third consecutive Quarter Ton Cup title.
In the pleasant afternoon sunshine on the lawns of the hosts and organising club The Royal Yacht Squadron, he agreed wholeheartedly with Louise Morton that this was an altogether much tougher, more competitive event than when they were first and second in 2019. Each days saw different teams top the leaderboard and six different crews won races.
Kieran Haywood on Blackfun led at the end of Friday and finished fourth overall just three points off second while Saturday’s leader Catch, sailed by Olivia Dowling was fifth overall. A 1,4,2 finish today gave Niall Dowling and crew on Per Elisa third place on the podium, his best Quarter Ton Cup finish yet.
“Without question this was harder than last time.” Smiled Southworth, his longtime cohort Santy chorused “With all the lead changes from Day 1 to Day 2 and then throughout today, the lead kept changing it was really mixed up all the time and everyone had a chance to do well.”
In today’s patchy SSW’ly breezes clean, quick starts from multiple keelboat and dinghy champion Southworth made the telling difference, aided and abetted by a well seasoned crew some of whom he has sailed with for more than 30 years on J/24s and other small keelboats.
When Protis could get clear off the start line they were uncatchable in the light winds today, as evidenced by their three wins from the last four starts of the regatta.
“The breeze was quite patchy and you had to stay in it. We had one fantastic pin end start but the breeze just folded and we could not get back.” Southworth reported, “We lost our way yesterday in the stronger breeze but were back into it today.”
Runner up Louise Morton, a three times overall winner who as Class Secretary has been the driving impetus behind the class in recent year enthused:
“I am thrilled with second. It is such hard racing and we absolutely sailed our socks off. I just cannot think of what we could have done better. My girls sailed incredibly well and just kept us in it all the time. But really what gives me the greatest amount of pleasure is there being so many different winners. It was such a great regatta, so many different leaders and so many different boats winning races. And it was great to make sure it went down to the last race.”
Morton and her crew led the regatta going into the penultimate race by half a point.
“I do feel we should have stopped after Race 10 though……” she joked with Southworth.
Finishing just one point behind Bullet Niall Dowling’s Per Elisa team had their best day today, when it counted. He said, “I am delighted with third it was a fantastic three days racing, great spirit on the water. The light airs helped us a little but every day we learned a little more, and every leg we learned and we were just getting better as the regatta went on.
Top Corinthian ( no professionals on board) team were Edward White’s mainly family crew on the distinctive orange hulled Joker a 1979 design by Alain Jezequel for famous Dutch racer Fred Imhoff. Tenth overall in the 17 boat fleet, Joker won Race 4 across the finish line to take second place on corrected time and were more consistently up racing in the top half for the fleet.
Bowman White commented, “We are overjoyed it has been eight years of trying and we finally have the boat going a bit better. We have done a lot of practice and racing so it is nice to get a trophy and we are sailing her much better. She is a quirky design, long and tweaky. Over the years we have done all the mods but this time it was the same as when we put her away in a barn for 18 months.”
The Bullet Trophy for the boat achieving the most first places went to Protis which won four times, Morty also collecting the Roger Swinney Trophy for the first boat with a handicap TCF of 0.906. The Kemp Plate was awarded to Olivia Anne, the Walking Stick for the oldest bowman in the fleet went to Protis’ Led Pritchard and the Concours d’Elegance award for the best turned out boat was awarded to Duncan Pearce’s Pacifist.
2021 Quarter Ton Cup, Royal Yacht Squadron COWES.
Results after 12 races, one discard
1 Protis, Team Hamble 34.5pts
2 Bullet, Louise Morton 43pts
3 Per Elisa, Niall Dowling 44pts
4 Blackfun, Kieran Hayward 47pts
5 Catch, Olivia Dowling 51.5pts
Full results at https://www.halsail.com/Result/Public/50080
All images are by Paul Wyeth