Aristotle was right; a couple of millennia on we find it takes eight to add some colour to Skandia Life Cowes Week's summer of 2002.

Aristotle was right; a couple of millennia on we find it takes eight to add some colour to Skandia Life Cowes Week’s summer of 2002.

Often overlooked, the Swallow class may not enjoy a large turnout, but her racing pedigree hints at the triumph of quality over quantity. Traditionally built of wood, more lately of glassfibre, the Swallow is a very lightweight keelboat despite her sizable 25ft LOA.

The design began its life as an Olympic keelboat in 1948 and brought the gold medal home for Britain with Stewart Morris at the helm. It quickly became a vibrant and growing class at which time, according to Anthony Lunch, Swallow class Chairman and owner and skipper of Solitude, “the fleets were spread around the Solent at places like Bembridge, Cowes and Seaview. There was also quite a contingent in Northern Ireland. But over the years it has become focused more on Itchenor.”

Anthony bought his boat six years ago, this being his fifth Skandia Life Cowes Week. “My crew and I sail her every weekend, and find it a challenging, but rewarding and fun class to sail.”

Currently lying second overall, having chalked up their first ever win at Skandia Life Cowes Week, Anthony modestly explained, “It’s easier this year as there are fewer boats. Normally this regatta attracts about a dozen Swallows, but the numbers are down to just eight as some regulars couldn’t make it; we’re looking to have 15 next year.”

Most Swallow sailors have a background of racing fast dinghies, finding the Swallow a comfortable next step up from boats like the International 14 – the concept of having a keel possibly being the main attraction. But anyone making the change would be mistaken to think that the Swallow is an ‘easy sail’. It’s a very competitive one-design class, sloop-rigged and it carries a large kite. The hull has a low freeboard of just a few inches which makes it a wet boat, especially in the tide-induced sharp chop often found immediately off Cowes.

Current overall class leaders at Skandia Life Cowes Week are the Kemlos aboard Serenade, who hold a lead of four points over Solitude. Serenade has scored three out of five firsts so far this week but today will be especially wet for the Swallow crews thanks both to rain and wind so an upset is always possible.

A picture illustrated book detailing the history of the Swallow and the beginnings of the class that took Britain to the Olympics has been published and is now available to buy. For details call the class secretary, Pauline Russell on 44 (0) 1243 512689.