Strong winds prevail for Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week

Thursday 11th August:

The big winds continued for day six of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes
Week, powering the biggest yachts to blistering speeds approaching 30
knots. Most dayboat classes were set short courses that ensured they had
finished racing before gusts to 38 knots were encountered in the

“It was a really exciting day, with a couple of enormous knockdown
gusts of 31-32 knots just before our start,” said Liz Rushall whose boat
Whiskers took a second win of the week in the Quarter Ton
class. “We had a running start, but left the spinnaker in the bag. Even
so, we hit 11.2 knots surfing in the eastern Solent. It was a super
course for the conditions, with lots of reaches that made it quite safe
sailing given the wind strength.”

Pip Tyler’s J/105 Nielson Redeye was fifth, his team’s best
result so far in IRC Class 4. “We’ve had another really fantastic day,”
he said after stepping ashore. “We were cautious and didn’t use the
spinnaker, but we still hit more than 16 knots. It was a perfect length
of race and everyone had massive great grins on their faces as we flew
down the big waves in the western Solent.”

Many sailors chose to stay ashore: no Sonars, Mermaids or Sunbeams
elected to race, and only 15 of the 26 Redwings entered turned up for
the start. Similarly only 24 of the 43-strong Laser SB3 fleet started,
and seven of those retired before the end of the race. In all there were
some 100 retirements.

Tim Eccles, part owner of the Mini Tonner Magic Bus in IRC
Class 7, was one of those who stayed ashore: “We broke a rudder pintle
earlier in the week, then a spreader yesterday,” he said. “Luckily the
rig stayed up, and we’ve fixed the boat, but we want to keep it in one
piece for the Mini Ton Cup.” Many crews of larger Black Group boats had a
more immediate concern on their minds – keeping their craft intact for
the 605-mile Rolex Fastnet Race that starts on Sunday.

XODs’ big day

Despite the strong winds, 119 of the record 145 boats entered in the
XOD class Centenary Regatta made the start line for their special
Centenary Race Day, which was started on the Royal Yacht Squadron line
by HRH The Princess Royal. The RYS starting platform was packed to an
unprecedented density and crowds massed 10 deep on the waterfront,
undeterred by the early morning rain.

Ado Jardine’s Lucrezia, Chris Froy, Andrew Shaw and Alan Roberts’ Phoenix, John Long and Tina Scott’s Relaxation, and Stuart Jardine’s Lone Star all had good starts, running downwind towards a mark laid off Lee on Solent on the mainland shore.  

“Today we knew the majority of the fleet would want to start near the committee boat,” said Andy Shaw of Phoenix,
“but we reckoned any potential gains from starting there would be small
and it was better to have clean air. We rounded the leeward mark in
second place, just in front of a big pack of boats, and then pulled into
first place on the beat.”

Phoenix finished 26 seconds in front of Simon Russell, Darren Maple and Richard Lovering’s Swallow, to take an impressive third win in this incredibly competitive class. Steve and Peter Lawrence and Paddy Smart’s Catherine
took third, while the entire class enjoyed incredibly close racing
today, with 53 seconds separating places 7 to 14, and just 7 seconds
dividing 47 to 53.

In the Mixed Day Boat start, Tom Richardson’s 1720 Premier Cru
was closest to the line at the gun, near to the outer end of the line.
However, her lead on the water was short lived as Anthony Esse and
Charlie Esse’s modified J/80 Wellington College flew past and
soon pulled out a big lead. She retained this at the finish, to win the
Modified J/80 class by almost five minutes from William Evans’ Royal 3 and Christopher Hill’s Spanko.

Premier Cru similarly held the lead in the 1720 class at the finish line, ahead of Livingstone, Brown, Lewis’ Rum n Cork, and Richard Powell and Andrew Sutherland’s Rogan Josh. The only Sonata to enter today, Michael Tennant’s Xantz retired, but Southampton UOTC’s Hunter 707 Officer Cadet, the sole entrant today, completed the course to take her second win of the regatta.

Black Group

The two Mini Maxis in the IRC Big Boat class – Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran and Andres Soriano’s Alegre
– did not race today, even though Ran was in pole position to win the
Abu Dhabi Trophy, having already notched up two wins in the three-race
series. George David’s giant Rambler 100 set off with one reef in the mainsail, while F Vaton’s Swan 100 Alalunga opted for a double reef at the start of their 50-mile race. Rambler shot round the course in less than three hours 25 minutes to take her first win and lift the trophy.

In Class IRC 3, Robin Lucas, Andrew Lax, Richard Heighton and Doug Pennycuick’s Swan 44 Bewick of Cowes
attempted a port tack flyer at the inshore end of the line, but was
forced to bear away behind the entire fleet. This left Bernard
Olesinski’s X40 Xinska ahead of the pack closest to the inshore end of the line, followed by Woutjan Hermsen’s Ker 32Luctor et Emergo ll. Gilles Caminade’s Archambault A35 Chenapan, was third off the line and first to tack onto port, followed by Xinska.

However, the day suited Mike Birmingham’s Corby 34 Oxygen lll best – he was first boat home by an impressive 14 minutes, winning easily on corrected time from the Layfield Family’s J/39 Sleeper. Lars Huechstaedt’s Corby 35 Heizkorper Sailing Team took third. 

After the start of IRC Class 4 Peter Scholfield’s HOD 35 Zarafa
made an early port tack towards the north shore, clearing ahead of the
entire fleet apart from one of the X-362s. Within three minutes of the
start all leaders had tacked onto port, although Robert Martin’s Kratos and Johan Bol’s Stern 33 A Boen were significantly closer to the Island shore than the rest of the leading pack.

Zarafa took both line honours and the win on corrected time,
the latter with a margin of just 52 seconds from Tom Snowball’s First
34.7 Mongoose, who retained the overall lead in the class. Another HOD 35, James Neville’s White Knight of Wessex, was third.

The Sigma 38s made a mostly cautious start, allowing Max Walker’s Pavlova lll and Kevin Sussmilch’s Mefisto to flip immediately onto port tack ahead of the fleet. With Mefisto in the advantageous lee bow position she pulled into an early lead. Around 10 minutes into the race Chris and Vanessa Choules’ With Alacrity
pulled further to windward of this pack, the fleet heeling dramatically
as formidable gusts off the Beaulieu River whipped spray off the wave
tops. At the end of the two-hour race Mefisto took her fifth win of the week, ahead of Pavlova lll and John Edwards’ Red Macaw.

Extreme Sailing Series at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week
With the main Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week racing having
finished early and the Extreme Sailing Series postponed to allow the
wind to drop, huge crowds of competitors made their way to at Egypt
Point to witness the fast-paced action in the Extreme 40s

As crews came ashore at the end of day 6, the overall standings were as follows:

1 The Wave Muscat – 134 points
2 Luna Rossa – 121 points

3 Alinghi – 114 points

4 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild – 109 points
5 Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 98 points

6 Oman Air – 95 points
7 Team GAC Pindar – 93 points

8 Niceforyou – 76 points 

9 Emirates Team New Zealand – 69 points
10 Aberdeen Asset Management – 68 points
11 Team Extreme – 51 points 

12 Artemis Racing – 23 points

Report by Rupert Holmes

Check out all the latest pictures from Day 6 in our gallery here.