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Greenhalgh wins Round 1 of the Musto Skiff Corona Cup 2021

by Andy Rice 18 May 19:57 BST 15 May 2021
On board with Peter Greenhalgh during Round 1 of the Musto Skiff Corona Cup 2021 © Peter Greenhalgh

Reigning national champion Pete Greenhalgh narrowly won the first round of the Musto Skiff Corona Cup 2021 after an eventful day on the Solent on Saturday 15 May.

A Corona Cup is a bit like an open meeting, except the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions are little more than a hundred words on a shared WhatsApp group, £20 paid online, with two ribs manned by willing volunteers, one crew operating as committee boat and the other as rescue boat. Running the racing last weekend were two dads of two of the leadings lights in the Musto Skiff fleet, Pete's father David Greenhalgh along with Rob Tarboton, father of Andy. Driving the rescue rib were Jo, backed up by the ever-cheery presence of the Royal Navy's own Dave Moyes.

With the wind in short supply leading up to the start of competition, Jo and Dave trawled the Solent for wayward Musto Skiffs, towing the laggards into position for the first start, which got away in a soft and shifty Force 2. Visitors from the West Country, Sam Pascoe and George Cousins were fast out of the blocks but while Cousins got dumped the wrong side of a wind shift, Pascoe defended well and swept to an easy victory, with Andy Tarboton and Andy Rice in second and third respectively.

The current was beginning to sweep the fleet across the line by the start of race two and a couple of the favourites, Tarboton and Pascoe were caught out, forced to return for a challenging restart. Both sailors match raced each other back into contention with Pascoe and Tarboton recovered to third and fourth respectively by the finish line. Sean Thijsse had been leading around the windward mark and was still sitting pretty as he approached the first leeward gate until he tried to drop the gennaker. Discovering it was jammed, Thijsse was forced to give up the lead as the fleet caught up and passed the stricken South African. Cousins was also showing good form in the early stages but as the breeze built up to full trapezing, it was Greenhalgh who hit his stride and won the race ahead of past Solo National Champion Dan Vincent.

By the start of race three, the breeze had kicked up to the point where dogs might be blown off chains. Undeterred by the conveyor belt tide sweeping them upwind, or the fact that he'd been scored OCS in the previous race, Brennan Robinson fearlessly nailed the pin end start and launched out into an early lead in 20-plus knots. However the superior tacking speed of Greenhalgh and Tarboton took them into the top two places around the windward mark.

Greenhalgh was first to hoist, first to set the gennaker, first to nosedive and capsize. Tarboton hoisted, gybed, survived, but then came a cropper two-thirds of the way towards the leeward gate. Rice rounded in third and refused to hoist, while fourth around Neale Jones was another to go for the big sail and pay the watery price. While no one was looking, Rice wore round at the gybe point and eked his way down to the leeward gate, relieved to get the winner's gun after the race committee wisely blew time on race three and any remaining races for the day.

So at the end of three short-sharp races, Warsash training partners Greenhalgh and Tarboton were tied on 8 points but with Greenhalgh's race 2 victory giving him benefit of the tie-break, while Rice finished on 9 points to take third overall.

Still remaining was the five-mile sail back to Stokes Bay for most of the fleet, a drive to survive that saw multiple nosedives and capsizes, not least Rice's mast getting stuck in the mud little more than a stone's throw from the shore at Stokes Bay Sailing Club. Eventually everyone got ashore more or less in one piece. Thijsse's spreader bracket had wrenched itself off the mast amid all the excitement of the sail home yet somehow his sturdy Selden rig survived for another day.

The next Corona Cup battle is due in Weymouth on the weekend of 19/20 June, vital training before the Musto Skiff National Championships in Sunderland at the end of July and the World Championships due to take place on Lake Garda in late September.

If you want a place at the Nationals, there's only 60 places available and it's only just opened up. Move quickly!

Corona Cup Round 1 Results: (Solent, 15 May 2021)

1. Peter Greenhalgh 609, 4,1,3, 8pts
2. Andy Tarboton 525, 2,4,2, 8pts
3. Andy Rice 534, 3,5,1 9pts
4. Sam Pascoe 561, 1,3,DNF, 15pts
5. Neale Jones 611, 6,6,4, 16pts
6. Dan Vincent 557, 7,2,RTD, 20pts
7. Brennan Robinson 350, 5,OCS,5, 21pts
8. Sean Thijsse 487, 9,7,RTD, 27pts
9. Paul Molesworth, 582, 8,8,RTD, 27pts
10. George Cousins, 302, 10,9,DNF, 30pts

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