Analysis of the second day at Cowes Week 2008

All the news and interviews from Cowes Week 2008 here 

Yachtsmen from across the world are drawn to the Solent for the testing conditions and the second day of Skandia Cowes Week proved more challenging than most as stiff winds converged with strong spring tides to make for some highly eventful and exciting racing.

By early afternoon, the wind instruments were showing 20 knots of breeze, gusting 26 but there were also rain squalls, poor visibility and lumpy seas to contend with, which resulted in a series of collisions and breakages.

Runaway Bus holed
Peter William’s quarter tonner Runaway Bus ended up with a large hole in her starboard side just above the waterline following a collision with Sgt Pepper.

Victoria Scott, who was on the bow, described the incident: “We were coming down off the Green running down towards the finish line and had a bit of a broach. Unfortunately Sgt Pepper was on our windward side and we went straight up into them.

“We were doing top speed and just had a wipe-out broach. There was nothing they could do really and they dragged our pulpit, couldn’t get off and eventually the side of the boat gave way.

“The hole is above the waterline. The inshore lifeboat was on standby but as long as we kept the boat heeled over we weren’t taking on water.”

Cactus Jack, racing in IRC Class 4, plus a Sonata both lost their rigging as the rescue services were alerted.

Team Pindar solve parking problem

3 Sad Old Blokes lost the right to fly the coveted pink spinnaker tomorrow after they were beaten into second place by Ian Williams’ Team Pindar who enjoyed one of the most dramatic overnight improvements in performance, rising from 30th place on Saturday to first on Sunday by a margin of one minute and 17 secs.

It was a shock they were so far back in the curtain-raiser since they are current ISAF match racing world champions but Williams had a top tip up his sleeve.

“Get an outside spot in the Laser SB3 boat park so you can get out quickly,” he said.

“We were blocked in and only got out to the start ten minutes before the gun so we found a different parking spot last night and had 45 minutes before the start so we got our bearings which made all the difference. We were at the buoy end, gybed away immediately and got into clear air quickly.

Williams, and his distinguished crew of Mark Nicoles and Simon Shaw, are at Skandia Cowes Week to train for the world match-racing tour but while they clearly have pedigree, their experience is limited having spent just two weekends competing in SB3s over the past 18 months.

“That could count against us in the long run because some of the guys in the class are very experienced so when the conditions change they will know how to set up their rigs a little better and how the boats will respond so they may well be more consistent over the week but I would like to think we will be competitive from now on,” said Williams.

Aimee wins again
Aimee, Julia Bailey’s Dragon has made a stonkingly good start to her 10th Skandia Cowes Week, posting two wins in two races and shaving ten seconds off the winning margin in the stronger breezes thanks to secret weapon Joe Bailey, Julia’s nine year-old nephew who is proving to be a highly mobile and versatile 32 kg package. Len Jones’ Rumours, which was second overall in 2007 were runners up.

Tonight the class will attend the Dragon cocktail party at the Royal Corinthian YC so starting manoeuvres tomorrow are expected to be a little dusty.

John Mander and his ‘ace’ helmsman son Rupert have become a real tour de force in the Flying 15 class over the 20 years and 2008 is no exception with two wins in two races already under their belt on their 2003 built Men Behaving Badly.

In 2007, they managed five wins in seven races and on the evidence of their performances this week, which resulted in a victory by more than three minutes over Gavin Tappenden’s Fflux today, the rest of the 14 strong field may already be feeling a little dispirited.

It’s a Mac – Family affair
The Brighton medics on board Joe 90, the J/90 racing in the J-Sprit class, also made it two in two, relishing the stronger winds to record a whopping 17 minute win over second placed Trion.

Duncan MacDonald, Phil Thomas and Charlie Wise bought their boat, formerly Moose on the Loose, in October last year and have won every club race they have competed in. Although they posted a tenth at Cork, they could be well placed to pick up their first Skandia Cowes Week trophy if the winds continue to blow.

Duncan’s brother Neal, the veteran Volvo racer who is competing with his wife Lisa on Stuart Robinson’s TP52 Stay Calm, had a disappointing day by their standards coming fifth in IRC Class Zero though the diem horribilus belonged to Andy Soriano who rounded the mark the wrong way in his Mills 68 Alegre and retired.

By contrast, Niklas Zennstrom, winner of yesterday Queen’s Cup had another resounding win in his TP52 Ran, this time with a ten minute advantage over Henri-Lloyd Cutting Edge who finished a minute ahead of Charles Dunstone’s TP52 Rio on corrected time.

The 39-strong J/109 class were given a committee boat start but struggled to locate it prompting the race committee to signal a general recall. A restart under the ‘Black Flag’ rule found the fleet in less unruly form and Michael Jones raced to victory in Joyride with one of the favourites for the 2008 title Shiva, campaigned by Matt Boyle in second place.

Contender for the brand new Liz Earle “Close Shave Trophy” which at the end of the week will be awarded to the overall winner across all classes who grasps victory by the closest margin, is Nick Woolgar’s Goose who snatched a ten secs win over second placed Lady Laetitia, campaigned by Willie Clegg, Rory James-Duff and Billy Clegg.