Great sailing was the hallmark of the day, with something to enjoy for all classes, even though the day brought its challenges.
After yesterday’s late starts and lazy weather, competitors looked forward to a promise of fresh breeze. By breakfast the wind was well established, but with rain and dying breezes expected for the afternoon the committee set courses of moderate length that would have most of the fleet home by three o’clock.
So it was that the promised schedule came to pass and the Cork 1720s and Laser SB3s made their appearance to get the show underway. At least that was the plan. Fierce jostling on the line saw first one and then a second general recall for these fleets.
Somewhere in the middle of this Brett Lewis and his team aboard the 1720Murphy & Nyemanaged to get caught napping on port tack by the Etchells007on starboard (owned by Sparks…Mike Sparks). The resultant coming together left both boats shaken and stirred and Lewis only just made it back to Cowes Yacht Haven beforeMurphy & Nyesank beneath his feet, his sponsor wryly observing that they should have added some logos to the mast. Not to be outdone, Ian Atkins at the con of the 1720boats.comtried a bit too hard and hit the rock off the Squadron, which eventually resulted in the discovery of a very unhappy keel. You can read the full story here .
The 1720s and SB3s eventually got away with a fleet bunched up at the committee end of the line. While most boats went for the safe bet of starting on starboard, Neil McGrigor bucked the trend, opting to take his SB3Booon a port adventure. Although he had a good startBooeventually finished a disappointing 19th out of 27 riders. The winner in this class today, adding to his first yesterday, was Volvo Ocean Race CEO Glenn Bourke aboardMusto.
In the Etchells fleet there was some frustration too. “I’d rather talk about yesterday’s race that we won, stated Barry Dunning aboardBest Mate, when asked for his view.
“I’m sailing with Chris Torrens in his new boat and it seems to be going very well,” Dunning continued.” I was doing foredeck because I’m younger. I’m also sailing with Merlin Rocket sailor Alan Warren. Today’s racing was a disaster because we lost a shroud while running behind Jervis Tilly and Maarc Waite aboardBushfire(who came second) and vying with Nils and Ant Razmilovic onSwedish Blue(the eventual winners). Fortunately we managed to tack quickly, saving the rig, before effecting repairs to get back into it again. We eventually came 14th.”
There was a notable absence of bigger boats off the Royal Yacht Squadron. With IRM Class 0, and IRC Classes 1-4 starting from a committee boat anchored off Browndown, most of the visible action centred around the smaller boats. Spectators were spared the sight of the IRM boats getting involved in a David and Goliath situation when they sailed off the line and straight into a swarm of dinghies racing near Lee on Solent. Fortunately no reported stones were thrown.
Peter Ogden’s Swan 601Spirit of Jethousurvived that encounter, only to hook the chain holding the Mary Rose buoy with her bulb, a pretty exciting thing to do with any yacht, let alone one just launched a month ago. Later inspection after she retired revealed scratches only, which perhaps points towards a future as a lucky ship. You can read the full story here .
In IRC 1 Yachting World’s Matthew Sheahan was once again aboard the DK46Fidessa Fastwave(pictured above). “We had a much better day today, but with the same result (third),” Matt explained. “It was a longer race and the breeze was steady. The committee made a good decision with the longer course and we went right out past the Forts out at the eastern end of the Solent and then back in. It was pretty tight racing withFlirt, Richard Matthews’ Corby 46, and the Farr 52Red Bearbeating us by a very small margin, in that order. There are big distances between the boats but the racing is close on handicap. I think we must be first or equal first at the moment.”
Tomorrow Sheahan is down-scaling toLove Shack, the Bénéteau 40.7 which finished third today in Class 3 IRC.
Back on the Squadron line, with the east-going tide picking up, it began to look like there may be significant gains to be had starting away from the committee, at the Beta buoy end of the line, but few boats went for this somewhat risky option.
The RS K6s started with their stablemates, the RS Elite. Yesterday’s second and third-placedShaggyandPippiwere up at the front, along with Neil Austen’sJojo, leading the pack away from the line. OnlyPippivaguely managed to hang on to this, finishing fourth, with Patrick Seely’sColumbiataking the gun.Jojounfortunately failed to follow up on her start and sailed home at the tail end of the K6 fleet.
Despite the fact that both classes are built by LDC sailboats, the K6 and Elite fleets couldn’t be more different. Whereas the K6 is a flat and beamy asymmetric sportsboat, the newer Elite, launched at the London Boat Show this year, is more reminiscent of a meter boat, narrow with long overhangs. Among the Elites, Peter Wareham and Mike Tong’sCiao Bellaconsolidated her win yesterday with another gun today.
The Sigma 33s got off to a clean start, with no recalls. Richard Puddifoot’sWhippa Snappaand Julian Spencer-Smith’sJupaleading the 18-strong fleet away from the line. Puddifoot managed to translate that into second but it was John Gimson’sHoney of Boshamthat took line honours.
Sometimes later starts can be a curse but not today for the Swallow Class. Ebullient class chairman Anthony Lunch, aboardSolitude, confirmed: “Today’s racing was absolutely great fun, a fantastic sail and we had a really close finish for the second day running. Yesterday seven boats finished within one minute and the same happened today. We’ve come second for the second day running, the best start we’ve had for Cowes Week. The race today was won byMigrantwho was third yesterday so I think we’re currently in the joint lead but it’s early days. The leading boat,Darter, would have won easily but she went the wrong way round a mark.”
Five minutes after the Swallows, Adam and Brian Charlesworth’s little Intro 22Red Timegot away to a great start in Class 9. They were right at the Beta buoy end just as the first of the multihulls,Gerber Firebird, came screaming down towards her first Cowes win. Simon Osgood’s FolkboatSo!took Class 9 honours for the day, a welcome result after a seventh yesterday but the strongest boat so far looks to be Terry Rowe’s Corby 25Drake’s Drumwith two second placings. After the early promise of the dayRed Timegot it wrong somewhere to add a 13th to the previous day’s no declaration.
Yesterday’s driftathon did not suit the Contessa Class, so today’s breeze was welcome, allowing the cobwebs to be blown out of No2 genoas and a typically competitive start, albeit withFresh HerringandAndaxijudged OCS for pushing too hard, a decision they felt to be harsh.
The first beat saw boats fanning out left, right and up the middle. Notable wasZenith, starting on port at the pin end, then ducking most of the fleet before tacking back and crossing everyone – two bites of the strong tide proving better than one. It put them in third at the first mark, behindBlancoandDrumbeatand just ahead of yesterday’s winnerPolar Star. Not bad for helm David Hall, given it is his first season sailing the boat and also that he has a novice crew – they were to finish fourth.
However line honours went to Eldred Himsworth’sDrumbeat, a boat often capable of greatness especially given some wind, but equally capable of producing erratic results. This class could once again go to the wire.
One of the greatest performances of the day must surely be Giovanni Belgrano’s impressive IRC Class 7 victory on his 1939 Laurent Giles sloopWhooper. She finished eight minutes ahead on corrected time while the next three boats all finished within less than a minute of each other.
The recent winner of the Round The Island Race explained his start: “We got an absolutely top spot. We had one boat to leeward and one to windward. They were both over the line. We were right on the line at maximum power.” Today’s breezy conditions didn’t hurt either. “It was perfect conditions,” Belgrano agreed. “Windy, with wind against tide. We decided to go with the number one when some others went with jibs. We knew we needed the drive through the chop. Then we stretched it out on both downwind legs.”
But Belgrano is particularly pleased with his start and is convinced the race was decided within metres of the line. “What really made the difference was the top start. We’ve never had such a perfect start. And lots of downwind work, plus good breeze for the upwind work. If the breeze stays on you’ll hear more from us, but in light airsMikado(Michael Briggs’ Clyde 30) is very fast.”
With yesterday’s forecast proving quite accurate the whole fleet enjoyed good sailing conditions today, and a little drizzle as the afternoon set in and a wind against tide lump was a small price to pay. All classes were able to finish, despite some fears of the wind disappearing in the late afternoon. So a good day all around.
Unfortunately things are not looking quite as promising from here on in, at least for forecastable future. Today’s advancing deep low is tomorrow’s retreating filling low according to the latest synoptic, with a pressure gradient of just 4mb between the middle of Ireland and the southern end of the North Sea. Furthermore it is likely the day will be overcast after some rain tonight, which throws into question the birthrights of sea breezes as well.
No need to set the alarm clock then…