A day handicapped by initially light winds and countered by inspired race officer choices marked the commencement of the 2003 event.

A day handicapped by initially light winds and countered by inspired race officer choices marked the commencement of the 2003 event. After a two-hour postponement, the first race of Skandia Cowes Week got underway at 1315 this afternoon when a light breeze filled in.

In bright sunshine 874 boats made their way out to the Squadron start lines and waited patiently while race officer Malcolm McKeag ignored technology suggesting a south-easterly and opted for the seaweed suggestion of a Western Solent breeze. Accordingly he made the decision to send the fleets off to the west against the strong flooding tide. Fortunately for Malcolm and everyone else the seaweed won and those out on the water saw a breeze as high as 15 knots out of the west by close of play.

The 1720s and Laser SB3 Sportsboats, sailing for the first time in their own separate classes, were first off the line and immediately made their way to the Cowes shore in an effort to avoid the strong tidal stream. Hot off the blocks in Laser SB3s, not surprisingly, were Olympic Gold Medallists Shirley Robertson, sailing the Henri-Lloyd boat, and Ben Ainslie inYachting World, with Matt Sheahan (Yachting World’s Technical Editor) as middleman. A close race ensued on the first downwind leg with Robertson and Ainslie lying in third and fourth respectively.

Ainslie managed to sniddle his way through Robertson just after the leeward mark and, with slightly better speed upwind, managed to hold on to third position to the finish. Colin Simonds inStress Bunnykept his cool and managed to hold off Ainslie and Mark Richards sailingFull Chatin second.

Ainslie commented: “After a reasonable start at the Squadron end of the line we got stuck in the pack but managed to pull through and enjoy a great battle with Shirley. I think our extra weight on the rail when the wind increased was a great advantage.” Shirley added: “Yes, we couldn’t quite catch him, he definitely had the speed edge upwind. But we had really good fun and it’s a good boat to sail. It would be great to sail here again but both Ben and I are heading off to Athens in a couple of days’ time to the pre-Olympics so I think that’s probably about it for us at Cowes this year.”

Glenn Bourke, helming the 1720Yachts and Yachting, also started the week as he means to go on by claiming the first race win beatingTeam Proctor Winning Mastsby just 15 seconds having occupied second place for the majority of the race. Bourke commented: “Procter Winning Mastsled for three-quarters of the race but on last leg got a wine-glass in their kite. We sailed past them but caught a lump of weed on the rudder. We had to sail upwind and heel the boat over to get rid of it and it cost us 40 seconds on our lead — hence the close finish.”

With a strong east-going tide and light breeze it was tempting to overshoot the start line; IRC Class 2 yachts pushed their luck which resulted in the first general recall of the week. The second start created plenty of excitement too with several boats being boxed in on the port end of the line. The Hunter 707s were another class to overestimate the strength of the tide and ended up with a general recall for their enthusiasm. On their second start they were clean away and enjoyed the usual 707 close battles throughout the race.

The sportsboat fleet also produced some extremely close racing with the likes of Bull 7000s, J/80s, a Beneteau 25 and John Roberson’s Fremantle battling it out within their handicap class. Roberson, who’s been attending Cowes for many years as a regular from Australia aboard his Fremantle 8, was chosen as a member of this year’s Skandia Squad asSkandia Contribution. Roberson commented: “We had a really great time out on the water today despite our lack of concentration on the first leg. We didn’t wake up until the first mark; we were too concerned with the start and didn’t look around and see what the tide was doing so we were pretty ordinary. On the downwind leg however, we got it right, we read the tide and wind and made up a lot of ground on those around us, in fact on all the downwind legs we made up a lot of ground. It’s a great start to what I reckon will be a brilliant week.” The winner of the fleet sailingAbstension II, a Trip 26, was Kevin Downer.

Hooligan, the Sigma 33 that finished third overall at last year’s Skandia Cowes Week, returned to top form today with a well-deserved first place beating Jeff Worboys’Workoutby over two minutes. Steve Sault (owner and skipper) said of the first day’s racing that “the race officer set us a good course but it was very tactical with the tide on the nose. There was basically no room for error. Interestingly we had a crew on board today relatively new to each other because we have a rotation of about 30 people on a time-share basis. The navigator was two steps ahead of us all of the time which is just what you needed out there.”

In the J-Spirit fleet Camilla Green, sister ofGBR Challengestarting helm Andy Green, was running the foredeck today on the J/92Big Wednesday. Speaking with Cowes Radio’s Steve Ancsell she said that the day’s start had been slow, with everyone “sitting around and swimming.” If the same conditions prevail tomorrow as promised by the forecast,Big Wednesday’s crew are threatening to take a set of beach games with them although the reality is that there is some scheduled work this evening trying to improve sails that were not entirely satisfactory today. The J/92 class is simultaneously holding its nationals until Tuesday and light airs races is their likely fare, so every last scrap of efficiency will be required.Big Wednesdayplaced fifth today; David Moore’sVampiretook class first ahead ofNeilson Redeyeskippered by Pip Tyler.

In the IRM class that is racing for just the first three days of the regatta, Tony De Mulder’s Farr IC45Victricwas top Euro Prix 45. North Sails’ Neil Mackley, who was on board as trimmer, said: “It was a great start to the regatta. The race committee made a good decision to postpone until the wind filled in. And as a result we had a really good sail in 14kt on a windward/leeward course in the Eastern Solent.”

Elsewhere in the fleet it was a close finish for archrival Farr 52sBear of BritainandChernikeeff II, owned by Kit Hobday and Peter Harrison respectively. The yachts finished within 16 seconds withBearfirst across the line and the IRM positions favouredChernikeeffon corrected time by the same margin. Hardly surprising given that both have been deliberately modified so that they both have identical IRC ratings, weigh within 5kg of each other and carry close on the same sail area. Both will be competing in extra-curricular match races off the Marine Parade in the evenings between Tuesday and Friday this week. For more information click here 

Results day one

Class 0 IRC
1Flirt (R Matthews & J Alvarez)
2Aera (N. Lykiardopulo)
3Hexe (Norbert Plambeck)

Class 1 IRC
1Minnie The Moocher (Anthony Richards)
2Desperado (Richard Loftos)
3Independent Bear (Drink Dependent Bears)

Class 2 IRC
1Holmatro (J J Meijer)
2Yes! Murphy & Nye (Adam Gosling)
3Centurion / Ray Marine (Jimmy Paliun)

Prima 38
1Longbow (S Sgt Stuart Smith MBE)
2Firestorm (Jon Perry)
3Fat Diva (Roger Lee)

Class 3 IRC
1Salvo (Mr and Mrs Peter Morton)
2Shockwave (Dr Nick Lutte)
3Eximius (Marsh – Paul Fuller)

Beneteau 40.7
1Shockwave (Dr Nick Lutte)
2Beam On (Stuart & Jane Hemingway)
3First Challenger (Matt Jess)

Class 4 IRC
1Flair IV (Jim MacGregor)
2Deliverance (Russell Hodgson)
3Capitali$M (Tim Harrington)

HOD 35
1Capitali$M (Tim Harrington)
2Zarafa (Major Peter Scholfield)
3Owl (Peter Bruce)

Class 5 IRC
1Great Scot II (Eurof Phillips & Barbara Mackay)
2Evelyn R (Jon and Karen Yorke)
3Beluga II (Steve Thompson)

Class 6 IRC
1Sod – Spirit Of Defiance (Mark Jephcott)
2Jumbo J (Nick Goodhew & Rob Goodhew)
3Prime Cut (Peter Parker)

Class 7 IRC
1Mandarin (Louise Morton)
2Mikado (Michael Briggs)
3Disko Trooper (Rob Garlick, Will Hamilton & Jules Hall)

Class 8 ISC
1Associate (Chris Russell)
2Antilope (Willem Wester)
3Hotwatch II (David Clementi)

Class 9 ISC
1Witchcraft (David McDonald)
2Drakes Drum (Terry Rowe)
3Tudor Rose (Richard Cooke)

1Chernikeeff 2 (Peter R Harrison)
2Bear Of Britain (Kit Hobday and Tim Louis)
32Xl (David Murrin)

Euro Prix 45
1Victric (Tony De Mulder)
2Timberland Euro Prix (Edward Leask)
3Faster K-Yote 2 (Mr David Meagher & Prof O’Connell)

1J Spirit (Mrs Marie-Claude Heys)
2Jazolo (Robert Shaw)
3Alice Of Five Star (Five Star Sailing)

1Vampire (David Moore)
2Neilson Redeye (Neilson Active Holidays)
3Jammin Of Poole (Mike Riley)

Contessa 32
1Blanco (Ray Rouse, Terry Vanner & Dave Richards)
2Drumbeat (Eldred Himsworth)
3South Haze (John Holloway & Stuart Paton)

Mumm 30
1E1 Business / Mumbo Jumbo (Geof Gibbons)
2Pogo Bogo (David Knight)
3Bushfire (Cian O’Carroll and Tom Hill)

Sigma 33
1Hooligan (Steve Sault)
2Workout (Jeff Worboys)
3Honey Of Bosham (Joanna Brigg)

Sigma 38
1Rapscallion (Pete Diamond)
2Mefisto (Kevin Sussmilch)
3Red Macaw (John & Jackie Edwards)

Sunsail 37
1Sunsail 65 (BDO Stoy Hayward)
2Sunsail 80 (Polypipe plc)
3Sunsail 45 (Hire Car 2)

Sunsail 36
1Sunsail 40 (Team Sunsail)
2Sunsail 13 (Team Endeavour)

1Crikey V! (Nigel Theadom)
2Brightwork (Graham Fairhall)
3Tundra – Specsavers (Donald Sharp)

1Yachts And Yachting (Glenn Bourke)
2Proctor Winning Masts (Robin Kenyon)
3Hurricane Lenny (Bob Llewellin & Virginia Phillips)

1Dionysus (Bruce Huber)
2Decanter (Jeremy Preston)
3Doublet (Robin Richardson)

Hunter 707
1Charlie Fish (Iain May)
2Doh! (Andrew Aldwinckle & Tom Davidson)
3Chilli Chaser (Ian Southworth & Nigel Smith)

International Dragon
1Supremacy (Richard Cullen)
2Chaotic (Richard Jordan)
3Saphire (Neil Payne)

International Etchells
1Festina (Mike Till & Howard Sellars)
2El Toro (Messers Hayden, Watson & Williamson)
3Gelert (James Howells)

International Flying Fifteen
1Cruella (Jonathan Hill)
2Funny Enuff (John Mander)
3Fritillary (Mike Boll & Gil McCutcheon)

Laser SB3
1Stress Bunny (Colin Simonds)
2Full Chat (Mark Richards)
3Yachting World (Matthew Sheahan)

National Sonata
1Sequoia (Philip Williams)
2Tiger Rag (Sandy Woodward)
3Pizzicato (Tom White)

National Squib
1Artful Dodger (Nick Emery)
2Kew Dee Three (Mrs Margaret Barsby)
3Firestreak (Miss Sarah Everitt)

National Swallow
1Darter (Tony Glover)
2Migrant (Richard & Carol Thompson and Charles Fisher)
3Curlew (Malcolm Green)

1Lady Laetitia (William F Clegg, William H Clegg & Erik Cole)
2Avocet (Mr Michael MacInnes & Mr Rupert MacInnes)
3Toucan (Peter & Lynne Romer Lee and Colin & Becky Samuelson)

1Quesito (Neil Austen)
2Take Two (Jonathan Calascione)
3Fat Face (Paul Rudling)

Seaview Mermaid
1Sirena (Noel Dobbs, Richard Dobbs & Alexander Dobbs)
2Bluebell (Nigel Proddow)
3Scuttle (Randall Family)

Solent Sunbeam
1Danny (Roger & Jacky Wickens)
2Polly (Jonathan Money)
3Daisy (Mike Moss & Mike Law)

1Sinful (Steve Sleight & Sara Coombes)
2Dolphin (Andy Cassell)
3Scintillate (R A H Perkins)

1Abstension II (Kevin Downer)
2Redshift (Edward Fishwick)
3Solite Cose… (Augusto Viansson Ponte & Marcos Vivian)

1Unity (J R Lear & S Spraggs)
2Zephyr (Hugh & Philippa Pringle and John Scammell)
3Woozle (Nigel Sefton-Smith & D Price)

X One Design
1Blue On Blue (Willy McNeil & Andrew Tredrea)
2Palassie (Peter Baines)
3Catherine (Stephen Lawrence)