Tough racing for third weekend of Red Funnel Keelboat Championship

It may be the beginning of June but it was wet and windy weather that greeted the competitors in the third weekend (4-5 June) of the Red Funnel Cowes Keelboat Championship hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.

Saturday saw the worst of the weather as 30 knots from the south-south-west forced a change from the scheduled committee boat start to the RCYC’s shore line with a round-the-cans course in the central and eastern Solent. This meant that Saturday’s results did not count in the championship series.

No Dragons or Sonars started and only three Etchells, two of which retired, so it was left to the 11 Darings to fly the flag for the Cowes keelboat classes.

Among the Etchells, Paul Hayden’s El Torro made it around the course for a well deserved win while Snatch and Gelert had enough of the high winds and big seas and retired.

Ten of the 11 Daring starters finished the tough course with Giles Peckham’s Dauntless enjoying a four-minute win over Brian and Pam Saffrey Cooper’s Decanter with Mrs Perry’s Dreamer in third.

Sunday brought more moderate winds that slowly increased from 16-20 knots and the RCYC were able to set a windward/leeward course with a committee boat start on the Brambles.

The Darings again fielded the largest fleet, with ten boats. The Etchells had six starters, the Dragons had four, but the solitary Sonar that made it to the start line had a wasted journey as no other Sonar appeared to race.

With a strong ebb and a south-westerly wind the left side of the beats was favoured which left little tactical options. In the Darings Dauntless again led the fleet around the course in each race, with Doublet and Destroyer taking highly consistent second and third places in both races. In fact, the top five yachts finished in the same order in both of Sunday’s races.

Behind them though the weekend’s tough conditions took their toll as Decanter retired in the first race with a blown jib and five yachts failed to start or retired from the second race.

Processional racing seemed to be the order of the day as the top four Etchells were the same in both races, with Stuart Childerley’s Bedrock taking the wins ahead of Bushfire and Mayhem.

In the Dragons Neil Payne’s Stampede finished ahead of John Dudley’s Phase 2 in the first race but the positions were reversed in the second race. Excalibur took third in the first race but there were no other finishers in race two.