After a shaky start, Shirley Robertson has driven the S&S Swan 48 Jacobite into overall lead

Britain’s Europe class Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson is making the difference in the big boat class. After the five races held so far, Jacobite has 10.5 points, well clear of second-placed Swan 65 Eva on 15 points and third-placed Swan 60 Island Fling.

Yesterday scheduled race was a dash around the Isle of Wight but light air denied the 61-boat fleet that pleasure. Sea breezes once again saved the day, rolling in from the southwest and rising from 8-20kn during the afternoon. A windward-leeward course up the Solent was laid.

Jacobite and the 60ft Crackerjack were two of only four boats to hug the island shore. How much advantage that gave them is difficult to say because on the mainland shore, the 60ft sisterships Spirit of Jethou and Island Fling were tacking all over each other. The racier Island Fling prevailed but in a bid to get back on terms, Jethou cut inside at Lepe Spit and ran aground, giving Island Fling an advantage of over three minutes at the windward mark.

The old stager Desperado also hit the bricks, or the Bramble Bank anyway. The 65ft ketch was carrying top US sailor Dobbs Davis. “Murka (Swan 48) had asked for water, we took the decision to duck them and carried on for another four boat lengths,” said Davis. “Just as the tack was called we hit the bottom and were unable to get free without assistance. It’s a shame as today would have been a Desperado day.”

Victory went to Robertson and the crew of Jacobite, but not without incident. “We had a cracker of a start, winning the pin end,” said Robertson. “On the first beat one of the winches exploded. The boys had to cross winch while it was taken apart and fixed. We managed not to loose too much time, and the crew did a great job.”

The leaderboard in the small boat class has taken on a Gallic appearance with the two French boats Xaossa (Swan 42) and Saga (Swan 441) heading the list. The British Swan 441 Menenes is currently third, two points of second place and three off the lead, making today’s race a cliffhanger.

Menenes’ tactician Jo Richards, of GBR Challenge, has combined well through the week with helmswoman Libby Deegan to meet the French challenge and despite the pressure, Deegan is having a ball.

“Although we had a better start than Saga, they were slightly faster upwind. A brilliant tacking and gybing duel ensued the whole way round the racecourse, with Saga covering us the whole way. We managed to get through them on the run and pull away, but it was not enough to save our time on corrected.”

Today’s final race will provide all the answers.