Tactical battle heads into night
A BATTLE of tactical ability and delicate sail trim rather than brawn were the order of the day as a 58-strong fleet headed out into the South China Sea for the final race of the Corum Cup.
Racing in light winds of five to six knots off Clearwater Bay, the crews set off on a 30-mile opening leg in light winds.
The fleet got off to a clean start as they sailed towards the Pedro Blanco Rock - the turnaround point before the dash back to Clearwater Bay and the finish line.
Best away at the start for the premier IMS fleet was local skipper Neil Pryde and his 40-foot Hi Flyer. In the CHS division, Rick Strompf's X-Rated made a cracking start outmanoeuvring rival OOCL Wild Thing.
As sail trimmers and tacticians put all their efforts into making the most of the light winds, the smaller boats in the IMS fleet were well placed early on and are expected to benefit if conditions remain the same.
The main contenders for overall honours in the series, Corum No Problem of France and New Zealand's Georgia Express, were playing a game of aquatic chess as they tried not only to make the most of the wind but also outfox each other.
The French boat, skippered by Pierre Mas, started the race with a three-point lead over the Kiwis so are expected to sail a defensive race.