Breeze & Sun, the perfect finale at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week

This year’s event saw another breezy but sunny day with gusty and shifty winds continuing to test competitors: a light shower at midday saw winds peak at 20-23 knots before falling briefly to 9-12 knots and then building to around 15.

Today was the last day of racing for most White Group classes, with the fiercest of battles for the overall results taking place in the Squib class. Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey’s Lady Penelope – who travelled from the east coast – led the fleet across the finish line in six of the first seven races. However, she had been OCS on two of these occasions and went into the final race only one point ahead of local sailor Fred Warren-Smith’s Aquabat. As well as the race for the overall class title, Duncan Grindley’s Surprise, had a mathematical chance to snatch second place, while six boats started the final race with a chance of taking third overall.

At the start of today’s race the two class leaders boats were match racing each other, until Lady Penelope pulled clear ahead. She eventually crossed the finish line with a two and a half minute lead over Andrew Porteous and Jerry Westbrook’s Firecracker Too. Surprise took fourth place today, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Aquabat, and retained third overall.

A very close shave

The overall result in the Seaview Mermaid class could not have been tighter: Richard Davies and Nick Hewitt’s Amethyst won today’s race, more than three minutes ahead of second-placed Anthony Eaton’s Sheen. The result left the two boats tied on 10 points overall, with both boats having scored an equal number of first, second and third places. The final result was decided on the basis of the boat with the lowest discarded result, with Amethyst taking the overall class win.

 The Etchells fleet also started the day with all podium places wide open. The Downer Family’s Moonlight had led the fleet overall from Sunday to Wednesday, with three firsts and two thirds in the first five races. However they didn’t compete on Thursday, and were disqualified on Friday. This left Laurence Mead’s Freelance leading the fleet at the start of the day, counting seven points, with Moonlight on nine and Robert Elliott’s Esprit on 10 points in third. Freelance won today’s race, and the overall victory, while Esprit was second in today’s race and Moonlight crossed the line 17 seconds later to take third. With the two boats now tied on points overall, Moonlight took second place on countback.

Today’s finish in the Swallow class was incredibly tight – Rebecca Kalderon’s Dart crossed the line just four seconds ahead of Paul Ward’s Cockersootie, followed three seconds later by Harry Roome, Prue Roome and David Lees’ Skua. Skua had already secured first place overall, but second and third places had been wide open at the start of the race. In the end Dart retained second overall, 1.5 points ahead of Cockersootie.

Will Rome’s Sonar Mumm-Ra took a fifth consecutive win, 38 seconds ahead of Shoreham Youth Team’s Josh, to take the overall class win, by six points over the team from Sussex. Peter Dudgeon’s Fiscal was third both today and overall.

Roger Wickens’ Sunbeam Danny has again dominated the Sunbeam class, taking his fifth win today. Nick Leach and Becky Wickens’ Betty started the day in second overall, but posted a disappointing seventh place, their worst result of the week. This left them tied on 14 points overall with Anthony Robinson and Mark Harvey’s Symphony, with Symphony taking second overall on countback thanks to her win in Wednesday’s race.

Big prizes

Giles Peckham’s Dauntless won the Daring class with a day to spare and an unbroken run of first places, a performance that also earned victory in White Group overall. Jeremy Preston’s Defender was similarly secure in second place, although David Gower’s Dolphin and Andrew Norton’s Decoy were both in contention for third place.

A third place today for Decoy helped lift her points, while Dolphin was struggling towards the back of the fleet. She finally crossed the line at the head of the last four boats in the fleet, all of which finished within 26 seconds. Dolphin had to count her 11th place, but retained third overall by three points. Peckham’s string of top results also saw him win both White Group overall and the new Aberdeen Asset Management Overall Winner’s Trophy

The Dragon class was also decided before the start of today’s race, with Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee having stormed to victory with a day to spare. Eric Williams’ Ecstatic was confirmed in second place, and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox’s Jerboa in third.

Last Saturday Ed Peel said he had a laid back week planned, “sailing with friends and lots of partying.” However he still managed near domination in the Redwing fleet, with three seconds and four firsts to win the class with a day to spare. Matt Alexander and John Raymond’s Harlequin scored a similarly good run to take second overall. Hugo Cuddigan’s Capella ll didn’t compete today, but retained third overall by one point from Annie, Joe and Bel Robertson’s Red Gauntlet ll, whose seventh place today was not quite enough to climb onto the overall podium.

Rupert and John Mander’s Men Behaving Badly, won the Flying 15 class with an unbroken string of first places and with two days to spare. Nick Clarke and Kathy Hunt’s Black started the day secure in second place. Andrew Millband’s Fifty Fifty started today’s race in third overall, but with three boats, Alex Storrar’s Sea-Jay, Graham Latham’s Crew’s Missile, and Mike Boll and Gil McCutcheon’s Ffuraha all capable of wresting the final podium position. Black notched up her second win of the week, with Crew’s Missile second, while a third for Millband enabled him to retain third overall.

XOD finale

Although Chris Froy, Andrew Shaw and Alan Roberts’ Phoenix had already secured overall victory, seven boats were still challenging Adrian Summers, Ian Paton and Johnny Mordaunt’s Excalibur for second place overall.

In today’s start heading west from the RYS line, a favourable stream made staying offshore the preferable strategy. Tom Tait’s Xtravagance took a bold move, starting close to shore port tack, incredibly clearing across the fleet of starboard tackers. Neil Payne’s Lizz Whizz was first round the windward mark with a lead of three lengths over Phoenix and Barney Sandeman’s Anitra following a similar distance behind in third.

As the leaders heading close to the mainland shore to get out of the strong tide, an impressive wall of spinnakers following close behind threatened to blanket their air, but Payne held his lead throughout. He crossed the finish line 25 seconds ahead of Anitra to take his first win of the event. Excalibur was third today, a result that enabled her to hold on to second overall, but Jeremy Lear, John Tremlett and Cherry Powell’s Xcitation finished 10th today, losing third overall to Lizz Whizz by two points.

Black Group

Overall trophies have already been decided for Black Group classes, although a smaller fleet raced for separate day trophies today. Classes for the larger boats, many of which are competing in tomorrow’s 605 mile Rolex Fastnet Race, attracted only a handful of entries. However a good number of enthusiastic smaller boats enjoyed a final day of racing that mostly favoured the higher-rated boats in each fleet.

IRC Class 3 was the best supported, with Paul McNamara and Tony Lowe’s First 40.7 Incognito taking line honours in the 14-strong fleet. They also won on corrected time, by a margin of more than six minutes. Bob and Jon Baker’s X332 Brightwork similarly won Class IRC 5. In Class IRC 6 Mike Theobald’s Elan 333 was first to finish, but Andy King’s 82-year-old 30 Square Metre Gluckauf crossed the line just two minutes later to win on corrected time.

“It’s the first time I can remember such a consistently breezy Cowes Week,” said CEO Stuart Quarie “It’s certainly the first one with an average windspeed over 20 knots, but the feedback we’ve had so far is that it’s been one of the best Cowes Weeks ever.”