By complete co-incidence both White and Black Groups at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week were won by yachts called Harlequin.
six bullets and a second, Matt Alexander and John Raymond, joint owners of
Redwing Harlequin, where awarded not only the class title but also winners of
White Group overall. There was fierce competition within the Day Boats to
secure the overall win with Malcolm Hutchins & Andy Ramsey’s Squib, Lady
Penelope coming within a single point of taking the title. However, the team
sailing Harlequin sealed their overall win by taking the gun in the last
race of the series but it was far from easy.
“John Raymond and I bought Harlequin about six years ago” commented
Matt Alexander. “The Redwings are such a distinctive sight at Cowes Week,
beautiful boats with elegant lines and high aspect ratio rigs, it is a
particular look but a Redwing is quite a technical boat to sail, especially as
there are numerous mast controls. Getting the most out of the rig is part of
the key to being successful. Some people think of this as a science,
others as an art and I think the truth is somewhere halfway between the two.
The Redwing class is very friendly but extremely competitive; Colin Samuelson,
Mike MacInnes and Bruce Huber are all top Solent yachtsmen and we have very
young competitors who have also done extremely well. Right up until the
last, we had to pit our wits against the other Redwings and we knew that we had
competition from other classes for the overall win in the White Group. We edged
into a slender lead in the last race and to our horror suffered gear
failure when one of our jib sheet controls parted, we didn’t panic, we lashed
the sheet down, whilst John got under the deck and repaired the problem and we
managed to overcome a potentially race-ending setback, which could have
lost us the White Group win.”
In the 26 strong SB20 fleet, former SB3 World Champion, Jerry Hill
out on top.
“It has been quite a windy week and we have had some epic days” commented
Jeremy Hill, skipper
of Sportsboatworld.com. “We had some tough competition, Ian May was
sailing with Matt Howard, who is the performance coach for the GBR Finn
Squad and Paul Asquith from the GBR 49er Squad. They were the main competition
all week, which any one who knows them will agree they are very hard to beat
and Sarah Allen came fourth in the worlds, so although we didn’t have a
dozen or so top level competitors it was still pretty hard to win. I have never
won Cowes Week in these boats although I have come close twice, so for me
winning this week was very satisfying.
Racing at Cowes Week is very hard, just the navigational side of things brings another dynamic
to performance. The class doesn’t allow GPS, so you have to navigate off charts
and you have enough on when you are surfing at 20 knots downwind, without
having to work out where the next mark is but that is all part of Cowes Week;
it is nice to do something different such as downwind starts and reaching legs.
Cowes Week is a different challenge and you learn a lot about different
aspects of the sport that you don’t get at other events.”
Tonight’s prize giving marks the end of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week,
there will be a full report in the October issue of Yachting World.
Photos: Jerry Hill’s SB20, www.sportsboatworld.com (Rick Tomlinson)
John Alexander’s Redwing, Harlequin (Rick Tomlinson)