The small keelboats in this year's Skandia Life Cowes week have been riding the thrills and spills of a week that has seen gusts in excess of 30 knots, big seas, squally showers and - very occasionally - brilliant sunshine
Racing here at Skandia Life Cowes Week has been tight and afterwith the leading Melges 24s still only seconds apart, the 1720s hotly contested throughout the fleet and the Hunter 707 fleet with three possible winners.
In the Cork 1720 fleet, Optimum Risk had a good start to the week and built herself lead but a weight disadvantage is pushing her back down the table as the stronger wind conditions moved in for the mid week racing. As normal the Sailpower.com 1720 is sailing well and engaged in a head to head fight with Skandia, sailed by Olympic gold medallist and newly-wed Shirley Robertson and arch rivals YachtsandYachting.
The strong winds have taken their toll on many of the more traditional keelboat fleets at Cowes and three are currently in the hands of Davy Jones Esq, Solent Branch. The inventory comprises two Victorys, a Daring and a Sonar. There is also a large number of broken masts and shredded sails.
It is not just the classic designs that are suffering. The K6, built by RS Racing Sailboats and seen by many as a rival to the Flying Fifteen, has suffered continual rudder problems with both boats being towed in today and on previous days.
As the larger boats revel in Force 7 winds it is a credit to the helms that there are still only seconds between leading boats, James Hewitt sailing on board the second place Henri-Lloyd Melges 24 recorded a boat speed of 22 knots downwind yesterday and still finished 30 seconds behind the winning boat. In conditions where broaches are a regular occurrence and downwind surfing combines thrills and spills, Skandia Life Cowes Week is very far from over.
To see a library of photos of the week’s action at Skandia Life Cowes Week, click here. The photos are updated daily so be sure to keep looking to see if you’ve caught our eye.