The forecast for frustratingly light winds was spot on…sadly
After the big blow that was anticipated yesterday at Cowes Week 2013 but never arrived, many hoped the same would be true of the big vacuum that was forecast for what became teasing Tuesday. With high pressure building in the wake of the downpours that had swept through on Monday, the forecasted breeze for today was desperately light and, as it turned out, desperately accurate.
Despite a promising build of cumulus cloud over the mainland, the classic summer sea breeze failed to materialise in time for racing to get under way. Ashore in sunny Cowes where crews bought endless rounds of coffee as they waited for the postponement to be removed, it was hot, but not hot enough where it mattered. On the mainland high cloud cover reduced the heating and with it the development of sufficient thermal activity to draw in a steady sea breeze.
Despite a valiant attempt by the race committee to look on the positive side by sending the fleet out onto the water, a decent stable breeze didn’t materialised in time and all racing was cancelled by 1400.
Although my overstretched arms, (courtesy of trimming roles during the three previous days), were grateful of the break, the cancellation of racing denied me the opportunity to sail a boat I’ve been particularly interested in sailing since seeing her at the Paris Boat Show last year. The first of her kind to be seen racing in Cowes, the boldly X-Yachts branded Bon Example is currently racing in IRC class 4.
This all new XP33 is one of the Danish company’s latest launches in its performance range and is intended as a dual purpose racer, designed to cater for both shorthanded and fully crewed racing. At 33ft she’s in a competitive size range, manageable by virtue of her size, but way quicker than you might expect of a thirty footer. The use of a retractable carbon bowsprit is a first for X-Yachts and places her firmly in J-Boat territory and will no doubt be one of the first features to draw the attention of shorthanded sailors. Tiller steering that is positioned well aft and a deck layout that is sympathetic to shorthanded sailing, but without compromising fully crewed racing, are two additional further areas that the company hopes will prove appealing.
Today was the day I was to find out whether the concept worked, but sadly the weather didn’t play ball.
Nevertheless, what the windless wallow around the central Solent did provide was a chance to take a look at the number of big race boats that have now congregated in Cowes for the Big Boat Series and/or the Fastnet.
After several years without the glamour and spectacle of some of the world’s key maxi and mini-maxi yachts, this year the event has several to spice things up. From Bella Mente and Ran, to the pair of Volvo 70s, Abu Dhabi and the girls’ team SCA, along with the 100 footer Esmit Europa, there is plenty of high tech carbon fibre to marvel at. In addition there are TP52s and the Gazprom Swan 60s to take a closer look at too, all of which soaked up the middle of the day as we milled round this year’s Black group as if it was a fleet review.
But one day’s boat spotting in the sunshine is enough, it’s time to get back to some of the classic Cowes racing that we’ve enjoyed so far. Tomorrow’s forecast suggests a slightly better prospect, albeit still pretty light.