Competitors arriving at Sail Newport this morning to prepare for the second day of racing in the 2009 Six Metre World Cup were greeted by whitecaps on Narragansett Bay courtesy of a brisk northeasterly (upwards of 15 knots at 0900) that whipped through Newport as a low and a high pressure system fought for control of the day’s weather. It was a stark contrast to yesterday’s light air racing for the two divisions of “Sixes” – Classics (built 1906-1965) and Moderns (built since 1966) – which took place off Beavertail Point and saw one race abandoned and one completed for both divisions. Going “outside” for today’s race was not an option for these delicate yachts, and, with the conditions humming, the Race Committee elected to utilize course B situated between Jamestown and Gould Islands north of the Newport Bridge. However, passage under the bridge was hampered as the windspeed, trending upward, agitated 6-7 foot choppy seas beneath the center span of the bridge. Under postponement, the RC held the 34-boat fleet south of the span until the tide changed and the seas smoothed before signaling the fleet to proceed to the race course. One race was completed in breeze between 18 and 22 knots and while a second race was planned, the fleet was sent in when the wind increased to 25 knots. Even a cruise ship anchored off Rose Island was dragging anchor in the rough conditions.
1992 Star Olympic Bronze Medalist Eric Jespersen (Vancouver, British Columbia), aboard Gallant, leads the standings in the 24-boat Classic division after adding a win today to yesterday’s third-place finish. Gallant has four points and a five-point lead over Totem, Goose and Saskia II which are tied with nine points each. Jesse Smith (Jamestown, R.I.), at the helm of Totem, has finishes of 1-8 and is racing with locals Brad Read, the 2002 J/24 World Champion, and Chris Museler (both Portsmouth, R.I.), Dave Moffit (Newport) plus Karl Zeigler (Hyannis, Mass.). The legendary Goose, one of the most famous and victorious of the Sixes, has finishes of 2-7 with Peter Hofmann (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) on the tiller and Saskia II, with Don Martin (CAN) at the helm, placed 5-4.
In the 10-boat Modern division, Scoundrel, driven by Rob Gray (GBR), and Sophie II have each won a race (2-1 and 1-2, respectively) and are tied with three points each. Sophie II, with Hugo Stenbeck (SWE) at the helm, has Cam Lewis (Lincolnville, Maine), the 1993 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, in her crew. Third in the division, under another Swede, Patric Fiedell, is May Be XIV which is six points behind the leaders after finishes of 6-3.
Racing resumes on Thursday, September 10, and continues through Saturday, September 12. Organized by Sail Newport, and held on the grounds of the Museum of Yachting, the 2009 Six Metre World Cup is presented by Rums of Puerto Rico and The Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Supporting sponsors and partners include: A.T. Cross, Crystal Springs Water, Harbor Town Wine of New Zealand, Narragansett Beer, Newport Harbor Corporation, Newport Shipyard, Quantum Newport, Peters & May Logistics, Sweenor’s Chocolates, Walenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Z Blok.
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