Patrick Cooper and crew dominate opening day of Bermuda International Race Week regatta
Patrick Cooper laid down an early marker with a dominant display on the opening day of the Bermuda International Race Week regatta in the Great Sound yesterday.
The local helmsman led the nine-boat International One-Design fleet across the finish line in the two races contested in shifty 12 to 20 knot breezes, competing alongside fellow crew Martin Seise, Bill McNiven, Melinda Bessey and Andrew Butterworth.
“It was a successful day for us obviously,“ McNiven told The Royal Gazette. ”We had a good boat (Privateer); it was obviously quite fast.
“Our starts were not fantastic in either race, to be honest, but we had good pace.
“Martin Siese is our tactician and he called some nice shifts.”
Cooper holds a two-point advantage over second-placed Courtney Jenkin, of the United States, with Norway’s Tormond Lie a further three points back in third.
Hubert Watlington, the remaining local helmsman in the fleet, is fourth a further three points off the lead pace after posting finishes of fourth and sixth.
Cooper and his colleagues had their work cut out after crossing the start line in the middle of the pack in the opening race.
However, they managed to work their way up the fleet and round the leeward mark in pole position.
The local hopefuls then put further distance between themselves and the chasing pack on the second windward beat and never looked back.
“We hit a couple of shifts going back upwind and that was race over for us,” McNiven added.
Jenkins crossed in second and Lie in third.
A massive wind shift resulted in the second race being abandoned, which proved to be a blessing in disguise for Cooper’s team having gotten off to another poor start.
“We were in deep trouble in that start,” McNiven said. “Second start we came off kind of in much better shape, probably second or third.
“But we had good pace and good height and burnt off the boats around us. Hit a couple of nice shifts and rounded the top mark just in first.”
The local team gradually extended their lead the rest of the way, crossing the finish line well ahead of the chasing pack to complete the sweep.
Jenkins finished as runner-up for the second straight race while Rick Echard, of the United States, crossed the line in third.
“Spectacular conditions out there today; Bermuda really turned it on for the first day,” Somers Kempe, the race officer, said.
“Sailors are happy, salty and sunburned. Looking forward to the rest of the week.”
The IOD’s is the only class represented in the regatta, which is back from a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Three titles are up for grabs as an overall, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Series winner will be determined at the completion of the ten scheduled races.
Racing continues in the Great Sound today.