After eight days of strong winds and punchy tides Skandia Life Cowes week has drawn to a close

After eight days of strong winds and punchy tides, Skandia Life Cowes week has drawn to a close. All boats are now back on the berths with many crews breathing a sigh of relief, and for the first time able to rest the aching muscles that the breeze and choppy seas have bruised.

For three of the leading Class 0 boats the final day involved a slight crunch as the bottom of the Solent clashed with their keels. Tim Louis, John Bertrand and Peter Harrison distinguished skippers of Bear of Britain, Australia II and Chernikeeff II were all counting their blessings that the underwater encounter was short lived and caused little loss of pace at the expense of face. Bear of Britain went on to finish second behind Class 0 overall winner, Peter Ogden’s Spirit of Jethou. Australia II was four minutes (corrected time) off the pace finishing fourth behind Crusader, the most recent British America’s Cup veteran, in the hands of Oyster Marine’s Richard Matthews since 1988.

The wind was still blowing a healthy Force 4 to 5 north-westerly and, when combined with tidal states, made a rough start to the eighth day’s racing.

The white group, comprised of day boat classes, was won by a Victory class dinghy, Zinnia, after a week of straight firsts, save for a fifth on Friday. Second place was taken by a Sunbeam, Daisy, and third went to the Mermaid class Haluf. These classes have faced the hardest struggle in a week that has dealt one day of strong wind after another. Downwind legs really have been a rock ‘n’ roll affair, fighting in the gusts and the lower sections of the fleets are now well-versed in the art of broaching. The strong Force 8 earlier in the week was way too much for some, resulting in a few broken masts and, sadly, the loss of treasured boats irreplaceable in some classes.

Black group, for the larger boats including Classes 0 and 1, has seen a fight to the bitter end in the protest room as the race officers adjudicate on protest after protest about the way a tie break situation is handled. Both South Haze, a Contessa 32 and J-Go a J-105, have 6.76 points after eight races with two discards. South Haze has a better result than J-Go if the discards are counted. The racing instructions are ambiguous in this situation but the unofficial view is that South Haze wins Black Group with J-Go second and overnight leader Polyphagus, a Sigma 38, third.

The Skandia Life young skipper fleet winners are Archie Massey and Douglas Pattison of Itchenor, sailing Skua, a National Swallow. Archie, having taken the Young Skipper title earlier in the week, pushed Michael Henning, sailing the Melges 24 White Rabbit, into second and Edmund Peel’s 2000 winner Quail, a Redwing, into third.

As Cowes Yacht Haven now winds down, preparations are already underway for the start of the America’s Cup Jubilee on the same site, with competitors and boats arriving for a spectacular, once in liftime, event in less than a week. Click here for a preview.

For some, the August sailing program is just starting, many of the larger yachts will be setting off from Cowes in the Rolex Fastnet Race at 1600 on Sunday. To view the Yachting World and ybw coverage click here 

For full Skandia Life Cowes Week results, click here .