With only three weeks to go, the entries for this year’s Skandia Life Cowes Week regatta are at their highest ever in the history of the event – standing at 918 and the organisers confidently expect this number to rise to over 1,000 by the start on Saturday 4 August.
- Amongst the 20 Class 0 entries are Skandia Life Leopard, Cap Gemini (previously Rothmans and a competitor in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race) and Australia II – most famous as the first challenger to wrest the America’s Cup from the Americans in 1983.
- At least two of the 12 Metres for the America’s Cup Jubilee, will be racing in Class II.
- Because of the rating band changes this year, Class III will be the biggest with 55 plus boats.
- The One Design class entries are very positive this year with, for example, 73 X-boats, 41 Hunter 707s, 15 Farr 40s and six confirmed Thames Barges.
IRM classes dropped
Skandia Life Cowes Week has dropped the two IRM classes whose starts were originally scheduled in the Notice of Race.
Race Director Stuart Quarrie explains: “Following results from the Round the Island Race, the majority of IRM owners realised that their places would have been higher under IRC. A number of them have put in requests to us at the Cowes Combined Clubs to race under both certificates.”
Because of this, the IRM-rated boats will still race under their own rules (including crew weigh-ins) as well as in the appropriate CHS divisions. It is anticipated that there will be at least 25 boats taking part in the Week with both certificates.
Entries will be eligible not only to win prizes for IRM results but also for the major trophies available under IRC (The Queen’s Cup, The Britannia Cup and The New York Yacht Club Challenge Trophy).
Results service prepares for busiest ever week
Final checks are being made to the Skandia Life Cowes Week results service in readiness for the first day of racing on Saturday 4 August. This year the system has to handle an anticipated 8,000 finishers over the eight-day event – the largest number ever. With the prospect of over 1,000 boats racing on each day, the task of converting around 17,000 sail numbers, finishing times, protest results, declarations, retirements and disqualifications into a set of results that is instantly available around the world, is a challenging one for the team from Next Generation Results. “The aim is to have each boat’s result processed and onto display screens, results boards and the Internet before they get ashore – although typically we easily achieve much better than that,” says Andrew Rayner, Operations Director of Next Generation Results who are providing the results service for the 10th consecutive year.
The infrastructure that makes this possible is complex. A network of facsimile machines and digital cellular communication links, ensure that hand-written records of the finishers reach the results room just minutes after boats have crossed the finishing lines. From there, it is a matter of seconds before the corrected and elapsed times are flashing up on display boards, scrolling results screens and computer terminals around Cowes – and of course, via the Internet, around the world as well. Sailing enthusiasts on the other side of the globe will join competitors arriving ashore after a hard day’s racing to see who’s winning, who’s losing, and also whether anyone still on the water can beat the leaders on corrected time – and it’s live!
With finishing rates on some days approaching 20 boats per minute, the task of recording sail numbers and finishing times can be extremely difficult for the race officials. However, the application of some advanced technology means that the results team is able to keep pace with the flow of data and still ensure that accurate results are available just seconds after boats had crossed the finish lines.
“We have to work to an extremely tight time schedule,” notes