The 2005 Red Funnel Cowes Keelboat Championship drew to a close with the prizegiving at the Royal Yacht Squadron on Saturday
Once again, the Red Funnel-sponsored series for the Cowes Keelboat classes provided six weekends of great racing throughout the summer for the Darings, Etchells, Dragons, and Sonar classes.
With two races a day, 24 races were scheduled for the series and 22 were actually completed. Thirty knots of wind on Saturday 4 June caused a change from a committee boat start and a windward/leeward course to a single race from shore line start with a course around the cans – which meant that the results were not allowed to count for the Red Funnel series.
The final weekend of racing delivered varied and challenging conditions. The racing was run by the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club with Ian Lallow as chief race officer. With the same club and race team also running the Sonar World Championship starting the following Monday, the Sunday races were used as practice races for the large Sonar fleet.
With four discards allowed in the 22-race series the winners were not decided until the final weekend, and in the largest class – the Darings – the winner was not decided until the final race. Going into the final weekend, Audax led Defiant by just four points in the Darings, and a further four boats were able to reach third place which added extra tension to the normally fierce competition.
In ideal conditions on the last weekend, Audax and Defiant battled it out in the Darings with Audax coming out on top in the first race on the Saturday in light conditions, while in the second race Defiant beat Audax by three places to leave Audax just two points ahead going into Sunday’s final race.
The final day’s racing of this year’s championship saw a gusty Force 5 and a moderate Solent chop testing the crews in the final two races. The first of the two races started badly for Audax as she had to take a penalty turn at the start while Defiant sailed away into the lead.
After Audax completed her penalty turn, there were eight boats between her and Defiant. While Audax fought back to third by the finish, Defiant lost the lead to Dauntless and finished second, leaving Audax just one point ahead going into the final race.
At the start of the final race Audax grabbed an early lead with Defiant trailing. Although Audax lost the lead to Dauntless before the finish she finished second ahead of Defiant to take the championship win by two points, with Defiant finishing second in the series ahead of Destroyer in third.
None of the other classes had such a close finish to the series with Jervis Tilly in Bushfire winning the Etchells without having to sail on the final day – which was just as well as he had switched to a Sonar ahead for the world championship. Second overall was Stuart Childerley’s Bedrock with David Lees’ Blue Genes in third.
The Dragons were closer fought, and in this fleet Virago took first place with Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee taking second with Chris Brittain’s Caramba in third. The Baileys were also sailing their Sonar in the worlds, although Aimee was sailed in the final race but could do nothing to prevent Virago taking the series.
Although 25 Sonars came to the line for the first race on the final day, as it was their practice race for the World Championship, few Sonars sailed in the rest of the series. Of those that did, Billy was the series winner.
At the prizegiving it was announced that Red Funnel have agreed to sponsor this popular local series for the next six years
1. Audax, 79 pts
2. Defiant, 81
3. Destroyer, 113
1. Bushfire, 26 pts
2. Bedrock, 88
3. Blue Genes, 136
1. Virago, 111 pts
2. Aimee, 124.5
3. Caramba, 152
1. Billy, 30 pts
2. Geronimo, 38
3. Bertie, 66