Veterans and first timers share the spoils at the Swan Europeans in Cowes

Every division was closely contested in the Rolex Swan European Regatta at Cowes last week, but none more so than in the small boats of Class B. Swan 441 Menenes kept her nerve with a very consistent performance in the light north-easterly winds of the final day, finishing third in both races to win Class B by four points overall from Richard Balding’s Swan 41 Philippides II.

Menenes’ co-owner David Rance was elated to have won his class in his first ever Rolex Swan Europeans. Commenting he said: “We bought this boat 18 months ago, and what a super boat she is. The biggest thanks goes to the crew, particularly to our helmsman Andy Cassell and skipper Pete Newlands.” While Rance will win a Rolex timepiece as the winning owner, he said he would be presenting it to Newlands for his inspirational leadership.

The Spanish Swan 39 Flying Neleb finished the regatta strongly, posting a 2,1 in the last two races and closing to within a point of Swan 41 Philippides II, which just held on for second overall after scoring 6,2.

While Menenes was a first-time victor, this was Jacobite’s third successive Europeans victory. On the penultimate day Swan 48 helmsman, John Brinkers, had been uncertain about overcoming Akarana’s two point advantage on the leaderboard. Graham and Libby Deegan’s Swan 46 Mk II had been looking over their shoulder at Jacobite all week, and feared that the Swan 48 might come good at the end. However, Brinkers applied some match racing tactics on the start line. “We locked Akarana out at the start, and forced them to gybe round again. We then made sure we sat on them upwind and actually extended on them, so things worked out well for us.”

Owner Stephen James has talked of retirement from racing a few times in the past, but his victory has given him the taste for more competition. “I’m only 74, so I won’t be stopping for a long while yet,” he said.

The tide has played an enormous part in the outcome of the racing in the Solent this week, as Swan 56 Zingala found to her cost in the final race. Frank Mountain’s elegant yacht just sneaked over the Squadron line early and with the tide sweeping the fleet out to the west, it took her nearly a quarter of an hour to battle back to the start. This knocked her out of contention for a closely-fought third place, with the German Swan 48 Elan’s second in the final race giving Harald Baum the podium spot just ahead of the biggest boat in the regatta, Stuart Robinson’s Swan 70 Stay Calm. Stay Calm has enjoyed some good battles with the four Swan 601s this week, who have had their own racing division within Class A. Paul Winkelmann’s Island Fling finished the regatta strongly but didn’t quite manage to catch Leonardo Ferragamo’s Cuor di Leone for the overall victory.
There was an upset in the Swan 45 division, however, when Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (WISC) had an uncharacteristic wobble. The 11-boat one-design fleet had four windward/leeward races close to the mainland shore, and WISC’s owner Glynn Williams made a solid defence to his overall lead with scores of 5,1. But then in the day’s third race, WISC sailed up the middle of the first beat only to find boats coming in from either side of her. Williams and his tactician Jeremy Robinson elected to gybe away down the run in a bid to find something different, but this planted her in 11th place and she failed to make up the lost ground.

Having suffered a similar fate the previous day, WISC was now forced to count an 11th in her overall score, and victory was in the grasp of the more consistent Fever, owned by Grant Gordon and Klaus Diederichs. In fact they won with a race to spare but competed anyway, although Fever’s 9th place would become her discard. WISC recovered some dignity with a final race 2nd place behind Charles Swingland’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but was powerless to prevent Fever’s victory. Amateur tactician Ruaridh Scott has been up against some better known professionals this week and kept his nerve well. “This racing is all about inches,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of work as a team over the winter, and now it has paid off for us.”

Bernard Lambilliotee finished third overall with Nemo of Cowes, an excellent result for his first Swan 45 regatta. “I have done other racing before, but not at this level, so I am very pleased,” he said. His crew included a number of professionals including America’s Cup sailor Andy Green. “We just wanted to keep it simple, stay out of trouble, and post some good consistent scores. We’re delighted with our week.”
The Rolex Swan European Regatta took place in Cowes from 19-25 June 2005. There were 27 different Swan models and a total of 67 teams from nine countries competing at the regatta, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron.

Overall Results (provisional with one discard)

1. Jacobite – Swan 48 – Stephen James – 1,7,1,(8),1,6,1 – 17 points

2. Akarana – Swan 46 MkII – Libby Deegan – 3,1,2,(10),2,8,5 – 21 points

3. Elan – Swan 48 – Harald Baum – 6,2,3,9,DNF (23),12,2 – 34 points

Class B

1. Menenes – Swan 441 – David Rance – 2,(12),5,6,2,3,3 – 21 points

2. Philippides II – Swan 41 – Richard Balding – 4,4,1,8,(9),6,2 – 25 points

3. Flying Neleb – Swan 39 – Frederico Garcia-German – 5,7,8,(18),3,2,1 – 26 points

Swan 45 European Championship

1. Fever – Grant Gordon/Klaus Diederichs – 6,5,2,1,2,1,6,2,2,2,(9) – 28 points

2. WISC – Glynn Williams – Swan 45 – 2,2,1,3,5,2,(11),5,1,(11),2 – 34 points

3. Nemo of Cowes – Bernard Lambilliotee – 3,6,3, 5,1,4,4,4,(8),7,3 – 40 points

Swan 601s

1 Cuor di Leone – Leonardo Ferragamo – 2,10,(17),7,10,3,14 – 46 points

2 Island Fling – Paul Winkelmann – (21),18,18,5,3,1,11 – 56 points

3 Spirit of Jethou – Sir Peter Ogden – (20),13,19,3,6,5,15 – 61 points