Steve Branagh was over in over in St Maarten last week for a nail biting, action packed regatta; racing the Heineken Cup aboard the brand new Highland Fling XVI in her debut on the regatta circuit… With exclusive news straight from the boat Steve Branagh kept us up to date with a thrilling daily report from the action as it happened:
‘Day 1 was sailed in 16 to 20 knots and had our fleet sailing around the west of St Maarten and across to Anguilla. Once around the top mark on the north of the island the we took off downwind at 20 knots and put enough time into the other boats to take our first win in our first race…
Day 2 had us sailing a full lap of the island with a long beat in shifty breeze on the north side. The larger boats were able to stay with us on the beat and although we left them behind once we eased sheets to head for the finish we were unable to save our time on the Swan 80 Selene and finished second….
Day 3 was a long windward leeward course for us. The race committee sent us on a long beat across to a group of rocks off St Barths. After an hour and half upwind in a fairly confused sea way that favoured the bigger, heavier Swans we rounded just behind Selene and took off downwind. By the finish we had left them well behind us but didn’t quite have enough time to beat them on handicap giving us another second place.
All to play for on the final day, we have 1,2,2 and Selene have 2,1,1. If we win today we take the regatta on count back as we will have equal points. Should be a good day…´
However, after four days of excellent sailing at the Heineken Regatta, the new Fling16 achieved a convincing 2nd place (just pipped for 1st) … here’s what Steve had to say about that final day on the water,
‘Day 4 didn’t quite go the way we would have liked it too. We had a great start and were ahead at the first mark to start the beat in clean air. At this point the snap shackle connecting the head of the jib to the halyard broke dropping the sail to the deck. The foredeck team reacted very quickly and the sail was back up on another halyard in less than a minute however this allowed the other bigger boats to get back to us. For the next 45 minutes we traded tacks before finally bearing away and cracking sheets.
We started to make back time on Selene but couldn’t quite gain enough to give us the win. At the finish the very well sailed Selene took the race and the regatta win by 35 seconds giving us a second place overall.’
Fantastic regatta, well sailed by all!
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