At the end of play yesterday (13 June) two French entrants dominate the overall leader board in the Swan European Regatta

At the end of play yesterday (13 June) two French entrants dominate the overall leader board in the Swan European Regatta which is being held at Cowes this week. From the small boat fleet Xaossa, a Swan 42 and Saga, a Swan 441 hold first and second places respectively across the divisions on the penultimate day.

Leading the chasing pack are two British Olympic Medallists. Shirley Robertson, Sydney 2000 Gold Medallist, sailing Jacobite currently heads the big boat division and lies fourth overall. 1984 Bronze Medallist Jo Richards, tactician aboard Menenes lies third overall, three points behind the leader.

Although the wind gods denied the 61-strong Swan fleet the opportunity to launch the first of a historic series of ‘Round the Island’ races this summer, when the sea breeze did fill in at 1400 the Swan fleet again found perfect sailing conditions. The south-westerly wind steadily built from 8 to 20 knots throughout the afternoon giving a perfect windward/leeward course down the Solent.

The fleet started at Air Canada then headed west towards the first mark of the course, Hampstead Ledge. Class F leader Jacobite and the 60ft Swan Crackerjack were two of only four boats to head into the Island shore on the first beat.

The rest of the fleet chose the north shore, with Spirit of Jethou leading Island Fling. A fierce tacking duel between the two Swan 60s ensued with Island Fling eventually overhauling her opponent. In an attempt to regain the advantage, Spirit of Jethou cut inside at Lepe Spit, running aground and taking two minutes to get free. Island Fling had a three minute 14 second advantage over Spirit of Jethou on rounding the first windward mark.

Desparado, the 65ft ketch, was another to misjudge the depth in the Solent, hitting the Brambles Bank. Unlike Spirit of Jethou, they were unable to sail off and had to retire after using their motor to get free. Disappointed crewmember Dobbs Davis explained; “Murka (Swan 48) had asked for water, we took the decision to duck them and carried on for another four boat lengths. 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 Desparado day!”

Jacobite took victory in the big boat fleet, not withstanding some mechanical failures on board. Shirley Robertson revealed some of the problems at the conclusion of the day’s racing. “We had a cracker of a start, winning the pin end. 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.”

Libby Deegan another female helmsman who has been dominating at this year’s Swan European Regatta outlined an exciting race with French rival Saga. “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.”

The Swan European Regatta concludes tomorrow with one race. Everything is to play for to win the overall trophy, with the top four boats within 3.5 points of one another.


Big boat class

1st Jacobite (GBR)

2nd Aera (GRE)

3rd Eva (GBR)

4th Elan (GER)

5th Crescendo (USA)

Small boat class

1st Xaossa (FRA)

2nd Saga (FRA)

3rd Perservance (GBR)

4th Cisne (NED)

5th Menenes (GBR)

Overall Big boat class (5 races, 1 discard)

1st Jacobite – 5.5,3,12,2,1 – 10.5 points

2nd Eva – 4,2,7,12,3 – 16 points

3rd Island Fling – 8,13,2,1,9 – 20 points

Overall Small boat class (5 races, 1 discard)

1st Xaossa – 1,2,25,3,1 – 7 points

2nd Saga – 3,1,2,12, 2 – 8 points

3rd Menenes – 2,5,1,2,5 – 10 points