And the champagne conditions continue at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week
At the end of another glorious day’s racing at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week Tina Scott was crowned as winner of the Ladies Day trophy. As XOD class secretary she has been a major force in the organisation of the fleet’s centenary celebrations, including the 145-boat fleet competing this week. The Trophy marked the culmination of a variety of activities to celebrate Ladies Day at the regatta.
Today was the first day in which the XOD class started from the Royal Yacht Squadron line. Immediately after the previous start there was a flurry of activity on the starting platform as race officials set up an extended line for the huge fleet. Meanwhile thousands of spectators thronged six deep in front of the Castle and along the Green to the west of the start line. Tension mounted when the start was postponed to allow an incoming Red Funnel car ferry to clear the area.
Much of the fleet held well back from the line, though a couple of boats were very close with two minutes to go. Fortunately there was still space for them to drop back and the fleet got away at the first attempt. Tim Harding, Kim Slater, Jonathan Hamlyn’s Vanity, and Rory, Amanda and Stuart Paton’s Diana pulled into an early lead ahead of Simon Osgood, Jamie Lea and Gemma Bailey’s Sox, and Michael Martell, Fraser Graham and Tim Copsey’s Astralita. At this stage, Tina Scott’s Relaxation was in a very respectable position just inside the top 20.
Course setter Jonathan Peel was very pleased to see the fleet split as they beat towards Cowes Radio buoy off Beaulieu. A large contingent of boats chose to stay on the Island side, while others made an early tack towards the north shore to get across the deep water before the building adverse tide gained significant strength. For a while the wind became very changeable, with some big holes and shifts, creating significant tactical challenges.
Richard Bullock and Richard Jordan’s Lass struck a near perfect layline from Gurnard to cross the Solent to round the mark first. On the penultimate beat, from Universal Marina buoy to RORC, she retained a slender lead over Tina Scott who had moved up to second. Only a few metres away were Peter Baines’ Iona, Colin McKinnon, Neil Hart & David Foster’s Chartreuse, and Ben Paton, Simon McCarthy & Adam Richards XL.
It looked good for Tina’s boat, Relaxation, when they gained a 10-degree lift that the other boats in the first group didn’t get. Lass soon tacked off to head north on port tack and Relaxation followed. Meanwhile XL continued on starboard and held a 100m lead at the mark, with Relaxation second and Chartreuse third.
XL slipped a place on the final two legs, allowing David Humphrey, Johnny Shaw and Julia Plumstead’s Perdix to take the winner’s gun. Light airs maestro James Meaning’s Gleam moved up to third, finishing 37 seconds ahead of Tina Scott who took fourth.
Ahead of time
In earlier White Group starts, the outer distance mark had carried to the on-course side of the line by the strong west-going tide. This caught out competitors in many classes who (incorrectly) used the buoy, rather than the transit of the RYS flag masts, to judge the position of the line. First off was the Laser SB3 class, in which 18 boats were recorded as OCS.
The Dragon class was a notable exception, with David Crabb’s Sea Fire making a good start at the outer end of the line, while Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee also looked well placed a little closer to the shore. At the end of the three-hour race Aimee held the lead, just 19 seconds ahead of Gavia Wilkinson-Cox’s Jerboa. With three wins so far, at the half-way stage Aimee was six points ahead of Eric Williams’ Ecstatic in second place.
In the Swallows, Rebecca Kalderon’s Dart and Peter Snell, Michael Cover and Alison Garrett’s Whimbrel were both over at the gun, leaving John Houghton’s Avocet to take an early lead three lengths ahead of a tight bunch of three boats – Charles Fisher, Richard and Carol Thompson’s Migrant, Anthony Lunch and AM Reid’s Solitude and Paul Ward’s Cockerscootie.
It was a long time before Dart found space to turn round, so it was more than two and a half minutes before she started correctly. However, Whimbrel didn’t return and was scored OCS. Dart made her way back up the fleet, to finish fifth, just 36 seconds behind Avocet, while Migrant extended a good lead to finish more than six minutes ahead of Harry and Prue Roome and David Lees’ Skua. Solitude crossed the line 38 seconds later to take third.
All 14 Mermaids are competing this year, and today the distinctive multicoloured fleet from Seaview enjoyed extremely close racing, with all but one boat finishing within five minutes. The fleet was grouped closely together at the start, but four of the leading boats were over the line at the gun and didn’t return to restart.
This put Charles Tilley and Michael Smith’s Adastra as the best-placed boat in the early stages of the race. However she slipped down the fleet, finishing fourth behind Elizabeth Windridge’s Zara. Richard Davies and Nick Hewitt’s Amethyst pulled out a good lead to finish first, 93 seconds ahead of Anthony Eaton’s Sheen.
Battle of the giants
The first Black Group start was for the superyachts in the IRC Big Boats class. George David’s giant Rambler 100 started nearest the Island shore, with the two Mini Maxis – Andres Soriano’s Alegre and Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran closer to the outer end of the line.
Rambler unrolled her massive Code 0 around 15 seconds before the start of their 50 mile race around the Isle of Wight, while the other yachts hoisted asymmetric spinnakers. The trio rapidly accelerated on a series of gusts to speeds in the upper teens, with Rambler pulling out a three length lead as they passed Prince Consort buoy.
She retained the lead as they returned to the Solent, taking line honours in a time fractionally over four and a half hours. However, this wasn’t enough to win the race on corrected time: the much smaller Ran finished less than eight minutes later, to take first place with a margin of almost 40 minutes. Alegre took second place on handicap.
The remaining Black Group classes started to the west. In Class IRC 1 a number of boats, including Michael Greville’s Ker 39 Erivale and a Grand Soleil 43, vied for the spot closest to the committee boat. However, in doing so they edged over the line – Erivale and David Ballantyne’s J/133 Jings! were among those who had to return. Meanwhile, Yves Grosjean’s J/133 Jivaro hooked the mark laid to protect the committee boat with her rudder and started dragging it up the course. Eventually she dropped the mainsail, and put a crew member in the water to free it, getting clear only a couple of minutes before the next start.
Richard Rankin’s huge 12 Metre Italia was first to finish, crossing the line almost 10 minutes ahead of Willem Wester’s new Grand Soleil 46 Antilope. However, neither boat was able to save her time on handicap, with the win on corrected time – and the Britannia Cup, one of the event’s most coveted trophies – going to Michael Bartholomew’s King 40 Tokoloshe. Another King 40, Aasmund Drolsum’s Magic, took second place, just 10 seconds ahead of Bernard Gouy’s Ker 39 Inis Mor.
There was no time to reposition the protector mark before the start of IRC Class 2, so it was still 100m off station and four boats initially passed the wrong side before returning to start correctly. Lloyd’s Yacht Club’s Swan 53 Lutine was first to finish the 31-mile course, three minutes ahead of Duncan McDonald and Phil Thomas’ J/111 Shmokin’ Joe. Both boats were able to save their time on handicap, with another J/111 Paul Heys’ Jenga 7 joining them on the podium in third place.
Extreme Sailing Series at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week
The Extreme 40s enjoyed a further day of spectacular racing. Overall standings when crews came ashore were as follows:
1 The Wave Muscat – 118 points
2 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild – 114.4 points
3 Luna Rossa – 114 points
4 Alinghi – 99 points
5 Team GAC Pindar – 89 points
6 Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 86
7 Oman Air – 83 points
8 Niceforyou – 66 points
9 Emirates Team New Zealand – 58 points
10 Aberdeen Asset Management – 58 points
11 Team Extreme – 48 points
12 Artemis Racing – 21 points