IRC classes have taken a later-than-expected maiden start for this year's Skandia Life Cowes Week while other racing is postponed due to a northerly breeze bordering on a flat calm.
IRC classes have taken a later-than-expected maiden start for this year’s Skandia Life Cowes Week while other racing is postponed due to a northerly breeze bordering on a flat calm. All racing was postponed until 1115, the time that the Class 2 fleet managed to get away from the Committee vessel.
Class O has completed its starting sequence. Ben Ainslie, sailing Volvo for Life just days after his Finn World Championship win, has taken an immediate lead followed by Bear of Britain, Flirt, Wolf, and Tonnerre de Breskens. In Class 1, there was some confusion amongst competitors that resulted in a false start. A recall is currently in force and a course change has been issued prior to a start at 1310.
Peter Ralls, Chairman of Cowes Combined Clubs (CCC) described the conditions this morning as “frustrating for the first day of Skandia Life Cowes Week”. Speaking to Dick Johnson of Cowes Radio, he explained, “Having only got Class 0 off the start line, we are waiting for the wind to fill in before once again beginning the start sequence. With some tide under the boats, it will help to generate some wind, and by postponing the starts we hope to have a better chance of getting in some good racing this afternoon.”
For the first time ever at this regatta, the White Group Special Sailing Instruction has been introduced to reduce the time it takes to complete the starting sequence in the light conditions. Two starting lines are being used – the Royal Yacht Squadron line and the Wightlink Barge line. The White Group fleets from the Squadron line include the Etchells, sportsboats, Darings, Dragons, 707s, Sonatas and XODs and these are all currently subject to postponement. The Etchells should be getting underway at 1305. Barge line White Group classes include the Redwings, Solent Sunbeams, Swallows, Seaview Mermaids, Squibs, Victory, Flying 15s and RSK6s and these fleets are slowing getting underway.
The hope is that the forecast wind will fill in from the north-west later in the day. Rodney Barton, reporting from the Squadron Platform, is reasonably optimistic about the wind situation but he did stress this morning that the northerly wind direction is a race officer’s nightmare.
Barton commented: “A northerly is the worst possible direction for Cowes racing but there’s nothing we can about that, we’ll just have the most of what we have.” Apart from the three Thames Barges which will be heading off the start line in a westerly direction, the remaining 33 classes will head east.
As of this morning, the entry list has increased to nearly 900 boats, which is well up on Cowes Week 2000, the last comparable year given that last year’s America’s Cup Jubilee drew additional one-off participation.
The race office has also had some positive response from the competitors who’ve been evaluating the SMS messaging service. Over 400 competitors (50 per cent from everyone who registered with the scheme) have responded with a definite thumbs-up.