Peter Harrison, innovator and backer of the British America's Cup challenge, walks away with the most prestigious cup at Skandia Life Cowes Week, the Britannia Cup... Also an insight into the results so far

Leading by example, Peter Harrison, innovator and backer of the British America’s Cup challenge, won the combined Class 0 and 1 IRC battle for the most prestigious cup at Skandia Life Cowes Week, the Britannia Cup. Sailing his brand-new Farr 52, Chernikeeff 2, he just managed to outgun the two other close-running 52s, David Lowe’s Loco and Kit Hobday’s renowned Bear of Britain.

In fact it is no small coincident that Bear of Britain and Chernikeeff 2 are so closely matched. Kit and Peter agreed last year that they would both purchase identical Farr 52s in the hope that they could be used as training vehicles in which to offer up-and-coming British match-racers the opportunity to become professional sailors. It is a similar concept that Harrison mirrors in GBR Challenge, a project that he has personally entrusted with nearly £10m.

Harrison came with the hope of claiming the Britannia Cup, although having had some teething problems with the boat, he did not expect today’s welcome achievement, “To me the Britannia Cup is the most prestigious win in Skandia Life Cowes Week and in terms of UK racing.”

Tomorrow Peter will switch roles and award the Skipper under 25 years of age with the best performance to date the Young Skipper Trophy. Archie Massey, skipper of the National Swallow, Skua (S3), just managed to secure the win from two close-runners, one of whom was last year’s winner, and the other who currently leads the Melges 24 class.

Although the Melges 24 class failed to get many entries this year, the competition is strong. There is a very close battle for the lead between Michael Henning in White Rabbit, who was a contender for the Young Skipper Trophy and the Henri-Lloyd entry skippered by Robert Smith. The shorter courses this year are helping to keep racing close and exciting, particularly as in the current conditions these boats frequently top 20 knots.

With two discards, it is still too early to predict winners overall. However it is clear that each class has two or three boats which have had a series of top three finishes. By the end of racing tomorrow we should have a much clearer picture of how things are shaping up. The Farr 52s are dominating Class 0 IRC. In Class 1 IRC, the infamous Desperado is repeating her year-on-year performance. The Hamble-based Swan 65 has had an unbeatable record in the past and with her vastly experienced crew is in for a very good chance. However she’s up against Charles Dunstone’s Corby 41.5, Nokia, and Nick Hewson’s First 47.7, Team Tonic.

Class 2 is seeing a close battle between the Swan 44, Crescendo, and the ever-determined J39, Jackdaw. Though it’s too early to rule out Fat Diva, a Prima 38, it looks likely that overall first is a battle between two runners.

The outlook for tomorrow is a bit brighter than today. The wind is predicted to be westerly Force 3 to 4 in the morning, possibly increasing to Force 5 by the afternoon.

Before racing begins tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the battles raging in some of the other classes. Particularly those in Class 3 between some of the old hands such as Peter Bruce on Owl, Bob Fisher on Zeal, Graham Deegan on Menenes and Jim MacGregor on Triple with a Flair.