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Simmons falls just short after final-day flourish

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Penny Simmons rallied to win yesterday's final two races of the 'B' Series in the International One Design (IOD).

But it still wasn't enough to give the Bermudian sailor the Vrengen Gold Cup on the final day of Bermuda International Invitational Race Week, contested in ideal sailing conditions in the Great Sound.

That honour went instead to co-skippers John Burnham and Peter Rugg who clinched the coveted trophy on a redress.

Burnham, who was at the helm yesterday, was forced to retire from the penultimate race of the 13-race series after his rigging was damaged beyond repair in a collision with England's Marc Migliazzo.

That left the American in a three-way tie for first with Simmons and Englishman Giles Peckham on 32 points after all was said and done.

However, the team of Burnham and Rugg were awarded average points (3.83) for the final race which was enough to land them the overall series.

“It wasn't the best way to win a regatta, but those are the rules,” said Burnham, who locked up the 'A' Series earlier in the regatta. “I thought it was a great week and it's always great to sail in Bermuda.”

The collision between Burnham and Migliazzo took some of the sting out of what was initially shaping up to be an intriguing two-way battle for bragging rights in the IOD fleet before Simmons crashed the party.

“It's a great shame not to get those two races in for them (Burnham and Rugg) because we could've had some lovely battles out there,” said Peckham, who won the 'B' Series and finished second overall. “There are some seriously good sailors here, but they are all Corinthian spirited and that's the beauty of it.”

Bermuda's Simmons is a six-time IOD World Champion. And yesterday he showed just why with an awesome display of sailing that earned him third overall and runner-up in both the 'A' and 'B' Series.

Simmons and crew (Penny Simmons (skipper),Sacha Simmons (spinnaker),Darcy Betschart (cockpit), Greg Lawrence (jib/foredeck) and

Matthew Cairney (main) opted for the right side of the race course coming off the start in yesterday's first race and got a huge shift on a starboard tack that lifted them all the way to the top mark in first.

The Hall of Fame sailor then did a fine job protecting his lead but had to sweat it out as Norway's Jan Petter Roed closed the gap to less than a boat length on the final run before eventually running out of race course.

“Van Petter Roed was sailing very well,” said Simmons. “He's a very good sailor and likes this sort of weather (heavier winds) as well.

Simmons' performance in the second race was nothing shy of spectacular as he came from as far back as tenth to snatch a third bullet of the week after playing the shifts to perfection.

“The weather forecast indicated the wind was going to swing back to the south a little bit so we played the left side of the course,” he said. “That's what I was figuring on and it paid off.”

Peckham added: “We had a good lead at the bottom mark and thought we'd play the shifts and cover.

“Penny came around in tenth place and we saw him tack away and thought the smart thing to do was let him go. But he came steaming in at the top mark in the lead and there was nothing we could do about it.”

Peckham pipped Simmons for second overall having scored more bullets (five) than his Bermudian rival during the entire series.

Penny Simmons wins by a nose in the 12th race of the IOD's 13-race series in Bacardi's Bermuda International Invitational Race Week. ©Talbot Wilson
John Burnham (17) and Giles Peckham (14) match up in the 12th IOD race of The International One Design Class in Bacardi's Bermuda International Invitational Race Week. Burnham and co-skipper Peter Rugg won the 13-race series for the Vrengen Gold Cup and also the 7-race 'A' Series. Peckham won the 6-race 'B' Series.©Talbot Wilson
The International One Design Class in their final two races on Day 5 of Bacardi's Bermuda International Invitational Race Week. ©Talbot Wilson

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Published April 28, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated April 28, 2012 at 8:55 am)

Simmons falls just short after final-day flourish

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