The last race of the Warsash Spring Series provided perfect conditions with 15 knots of wind and glorious sunshine.
Jaguar Logic were fast out of the blocks, needing to beat Encore by two places and Visit Malta by four to get 2nd place in the series. They sailed a superb 1st beat and at the half way stage they were looking good with sufficient distance and four boats between them and Encore.
On the penultimate kite run the wind built from behind allowing the chase pack to close the distance considerably. Jaguar Logic was lying 2nd on the water at this stage behind Premier Flair. Puma were two boat lengths behind Jaguar and Encore had sailed well to get within 30 seconds, too close for comfort on corrected time.
Tim Thubron skippering Jaguar took the tactical decision to try and sail Portia down the fleet into tenth place (the same tactic Ben Ainslie used to win gold in the Sydney Olympics). If they succeeded and beat Encore then they would take 3rd in the Series. Tim and the team had a massive task on their hands that would require precision teamwork and spectacular boat handling.
Meanwhile, this allowed Visit Malta Puma to push forward into 2nd place on the water. The team aboard Visit Malta Puma have sailed a superb series at the front of a very competitive fleet and going into the race were well positioned to win a 2nd place in the series.
However, the pressure on the team was huge which resulted in an accumulation of small mistakes, this was preventing the team from sailing as well as they have done throughout the series. Just before the half way stage the time differences on the water combined with the position in the fleet meant that Visit Malta Puma could be pushed into 4th place in the series!
It is amazing how much the pressures on the final race can affect teamwork and the overall psychology of a team to result in an under par performance. The team aboard Visit Malta Puma were certainly suffering with this. Full credit to them though as they dug deep and pulled together showing the great character that winning teams are made of.
On the penultimate kite run Visit Malta Puma in 3rd place closed the gap on Jaguar Logic to about two boat lengths with some excellent kite trimming from Tim. This left the series wide open with 2nd and 3rd places to be decided over the final forty minutes of racing.
As Jaguar Logic went to chase down Encore great teamwork aboard Visit Malta Puma provide them with a fantastic gybe drop with great pace out of the leeward mark. Visit Malta Puma held their 2nd place on the water to the finish line and were delighted to have won 2nd place in the series. The team fought hard under difficult circumstances with huge pressure. They did not buckle when it would have been so easy to do so and fully deserve a 2nd place in the series.
Just behind Visit Malta Puma Tim and his team were working hard to sail Encore down the fleet. They provided a brilliant display of boat handling and slowed Portia down considerably. In a tense climax to the series the pressure was on, it was a bold move to try this tactic. The chase group closed the gap considerably and it was looking like Jaguar could pull it off.
One last mark rounding and a final beat to the finish and it would all be over, it could still be anyone’s race. Encore were also sailing brilliantly and pulled of a slick manoeuvre at the final leeward mark. This gave them the clearance they needed to get clear air and a small but vital lead over Jaguar.
Encore held this lead to the finish line and celebrated their 3rd place in the series with a big cheer as they crossed the line.
There were smiling faces all round on Jaguar as they arrived home in Shamrock Quay. They had sailed an awesome race and revelled in the conditions and the tough fight they had. Whilst they did not quite succeed in taking Encore out they felt the buzz of inshore racing to the maximum. What a superb performance with a fantastic 4th place in the series, against a very competitive fleet.