Robert Finch the Lord Mayor of London has taken time out of his busy schedule to sail his Swallow at Skandia Cowes Week

Itchenor Sailing Club member Robert Finch, the Lord Mayor of London, and his crewman Tim Woodall are one of the many teams competing here at Skandia Cowes Week in the Tom Thornycroft-designed Swallow. There are currently 30 Swallows racing regularly at Itchenor Sailing Club with the other main fleet at Aldeburgh on the east coast. Finch who started off as a cruising man before moving onto the racing scene aboard a Hustler 32 from West Mersea, has been sailing Swallows now for 10 years and chatted about why he chooses the Swallow as his racing toy: “It’s a good boat, fast fun but particularly a really nice group of people. They are the best class at Itchenor by a long, long way. Of course another main attraction is the excellent competition. We always have really close racing.”

For Finch (pictured left) this sort of racing is the ideal antidote to his hectic life as the Lord Mayor. When he’s not living in London at the Mansion House or his own home in Bosham Hoe he’s aboard, so the time he spends on the water is cherished. He added: “Unfortunately because I’ve been so busy on the road this year, spending 80-85 days abroad, I’ve not been down to Itchenor as much as I’d have like. So any sailing I do I class as holiday. My next trip away is Athens. The Mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyannis invited the Lady Mayoress and I to go to Athens for the last five days of the Games. Hopefully we’ll we able to watch a bit of sailing, rowing, athletics and horse riding and, of course the closing ceremony.”

While Finch is away in Athens the class will be running its re-scheduled class championship at Seaview. The event was originally due to take place in July but extreme windy conditions forced a postponement.

Another interesting competitor here at Cowes week racing the Swallow is 21-year-old Alice Wood (pictured left) from Itchenor who’s sailing the association’s Swallow in the class bursary scheme. According to Anthony Lunch from the class association, part of the class membership subscription goes towards the bursary to subsidise a young team at Cowes Week.

Chatting about being selected for the bursary, Wood said: “It really is a great way of encouraging the young sailors from Itchenor into the class. Although I’ve done a lot of crewing a Swallow with my father, I usually sail Lasers, so it’s a great opportunity for me. The first day was very much a learning curve because it was our first time on the water. However, things started to improve in Sunday’s race because we got seventh or an eighth.”