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GBR Challenge Win First Match In Round Robin Two

23rd October 2002. GBR Challenge today defeated Team Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes by 46 seconds, to record the British team’s fourth victory in a row. The first attempt at the race was cancelled after the wind died. In the restarted race Harrison’s men overtook USA 66 on the first downwind leg to gain the upper hand and went on to earn their first point of Round Robin Two.

After an eight knots breeze filled in, the race was restarted. As the start gun went, both boats came into the start box and bore away. As USA 66 passed beneath the British team, Andy Beadsworth gybed to follow. Team Dennis Conner headed out to the right hand side of the course, before gybing, with GBR gybing inside them with two minutes remaining. As both boats sailed back towards the line, the teams had to bear away to avoid being early for the gun. GBR headed up to take the pin end as the gun was fired with Stars & Stripes slightly behind and to windward.

The American team immediately sailed higher than GBR 70, to establish an early advantage and gain control of the right hand side of the course. With Ian Walker at the helm, Wight Lightning continued to pressure Stars & Stripes, but Conner’s men protected their lead by covering GBR Challenge up the beat. The only split came at the top of the windward leg as the British team went to the right hand side of the course. Conner’s team sailed to the left and benefited from a huge shift that tripled their lead. USA 66 rounded the first mark of the course one minute and six seconds ahead.

On the downwind leg, Stars & Stripes stayed with the British team’s every move, but Harrison’s men chipped away at the lead by picking up gusts moving down the course. The turning point was two thirds of the way down the run as tactician Ado Stead called for GBR 70 to gybe to the right hand side of the course, a move which Conner’s men did not match. Wight Lightning found extra pressure to cut the American’s lead to less than a boat length and as GBR 70 gybed back to the middle of the course Stars & Stripes gybed in front. GBR maintained their extra speed to sail around USA 66 and take the lead. At the leeward mark, the British team had taken one minute and twenty three seconds out of Stars & Stripes to establish a seventeen second lead.

At the start of the third leg of the course the American veterans attempted to put pressure on GBR Challenge, by starting a tacking duel. Starting with a dummy tack that Walker matched, Read then threw in four tacks that were again copied by the British team. GBR Challenge maintain their advantage, although USA 66 was cutting the lead down. As Stars & Stripes tacked for a fifth time, USA 66 was virtually stalled due to all of the manoeuvres in the light wind conditions, Walker sailed to the right hand side to gain speed before tacking back to re-establish the British advantage.

GBR 70 rounded the second windward mark with a 33 second lead, but the Americans again threatened down the run. As the teams approached the mark, Stars & Stripes crossed ahead of GBR Challenge as the American team had the starboard tack rights. Despite surrendering the lead for an instant, the British team were better placed for the final run into the mark and as they gybed onto starboard USA 66 came towards the layline on port. The American team gybed for the mark on port and before they reached the three boat length zone, converged with GBR70 and illegally forced the British team to alter course. The umpires awarded a red flag penalty that gave the lead back to GBR 70 as USA 66 carried out their turn.

GBR Challenge then extended on the final leg to record a valuable victory by 46 seconds.

Wight Lightning (GBR-70)
Wight Lightning (GBR-70)
Bow Matt Cornwell
Mid Bow Mark Sheffield
Mast George Skuodas
Pit James Stagg
Pit Runner Jonathan Taylor
Trim upwind Ian Budgen
Trim downwind Simon Fry
Grinder Starboard Guy Reid
Grinder Port Greg Searle
Mid Grinder Jim Turner
Main Trimmer Chris Mason
Navigator Jules Salter
Aft Grinder Chris Main
Strategist Andy Beadsworth
Skipper Ian Walker
Tactician Adrian Stead
17th Man Peter Harrison

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