Etchells Gertrude Cup at Cowes

The Royal Thames Yacht Club hosted the Gertrude Cup with five days of racing off Cowes.

For the event a Fleet of matched Etchells boats was provided fully rigged, with new matching sails and in the water by the Cowes International Etchells Fleet.

After 12 races completed over the four days of racing the overall winner was helm Mark Lees’ Royal London’s team, skippered by Will Bedford, ahead of USA Youth team Blue of Sean Cornell.

Cornell won the Youth’s and Corinthian Trophy, a prize he was delighted to take back to the States.

Lees said in his acceptance speech that teams coming to Cowes from around the world make this a special event, both on and off the water.

Etchells Gertrude Cup 2018 - Final Positions after 12 races

1st Royal London YC - Mark Lees / Will Bedford / Fraser Woodley / Arran Holeman 33 pts
2nd US Youth Team Blue (C) - Sean Cornell / Chris Manson-Hing / Rachel Daye / Scott Ewing 36 pts
3rd GBR/USA Youth Team (C) - Ted Blowers / Will Birch-Tomlinson / Edward Lebens / Patrick Bray 38 pts
4th Royal Southern YC - Annabel Vose / Suzy Russell / Hannah Peters / Charlotte Heijstek 40 pts
5th Grieg City Academy - Montel Fagan-Jordan / Shabazz Patterson / Matt Reid / Azat Ulutas 43 pts
6th Royal Perth YC (C) - Pat Voss / Adam Negri / Cameron Seagreen 43.5 pts
7th US Youth Team Red (C) - Connor Needham / Jimmy Kennedy / Franny Schulte / Brooks Daley 46 pts
8th Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron - Doug Flynn / Alex Flynn / Dave Bedford 49 pts
9th Cowes Corinthian YC - Kim Ridge / James Downer / Andrew Palfrey 51 pts
10th Royal London YC Youth Team (C) - Ellie Cumpsty / Rosie Povall / Rosie Hill / Freya Anderson 78 pts

Day 1, in breezes of never more than 12 kts, saw the Royal London’s Mark Lees win the leader's Red Spinnaker. Lees used the strong ebb on the left-hand side of the course to good advantage with a first and a third in the 2-race day. However, the day wasn’t without incident as the strong ebb tide for one race changed the spreader mark into the windward mark, and only race leader Mark Lees spotted this resulting, as the fleet tried to pinch up to the “new” mark, in 3 boats ended up having to do penalty turns.

Day 2, after visiting yachtsman Pat Voss from the Royal Perth Yacht club easily won the first race, things didn’t go his way and it was the combined GBR/USA team skippered by Ted Blowers who won the Boat of the Day. The team's wind calls and precise gybing saw Blowers move through the pack to give them 3 podium positions out of the days 4 races. Unfortunately, this was not enough to give Blowers the coveted Red Spinnaker, as Lees had achieved consistently good results in all 4 races

Day 3 saw the visiting USA youth team win their second race of the series, but the day's stars were the Greig City Academy team helmed by Montel Fagan-Jordan, who scored 2 firsts and a second. Their 2nd first included a man overboard recovery, as just after rounding the bottom gate in first place one of the crew hiked too hard, and it was only the quick response of tactician Matt Reid pulling him in as he passed the stern of the boat that meant they only lost 2 places, but on the down-wind leg recovered their first place to win by less than half a boat length. The Series leader suffered gear failure but, with 2 discards now in place after 10 races, were able to maintain the leader's Red Spinnaker into the last day.

Day 4 - final day - saw at last a true gradient breeze and conditions more akin to the Solent - a South Westerly at 12 Kts that slowly built to 18 Its, variable cloud cover giving good wind shifts - a race officer's nightmare, yet Phil Hagen still managed to put on 3 fair races in the now more challenging conditions as the seas started to build.

Four teams could potentially win the event, but Lees needed a bad day to throw it away, and that he nearly did, but such was the overall quality and competitive nature of the fleet that none of the contenders could maintain 3 good race results together. Without doubt though, the top boat of the day was Annabelle Vose’s all-girl crew from the Royal Southern Yacht Club who scored only 9 points from the day's 3 races with 2 podium positions.

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