The fourth day's racing is over and here is the overall round-up 1/8/06

With a forecast of strong and blustery south-westerly winds and gusts reaching 29 knots a lumpy Solent greeted competitors this morning. Principal Race Officer John Grandy of the Royal Yacht Squadron rightly urged his course setters to adopt a “safety first” attitude by sending all the classes on the Castle start line to the more sheltered eastern Solent and ensuring their courses were suitably short enough to get all the fleets safely home before the tide turned. Running starts with the tide, therefore, were the order of the day and provided a fantastic spectacle for the shoreside spectators as the day boats streaked off the start line setting myriad shades of colourfulspinnakers for a long first leg down to the Hill Head Shore. However for three classes – the Solent Sunbeams, RS-K6 and Swallows – the conditions were just too tough for the sailors and the class associations decided not to race them whilst in the Seaview Mermaids, a gentleman’s decision saw none of the fleet fly spinnakers.

The first start
The first start of the day at 10.05am was a tense affair for the hard-driving Laser SB3 fleet who all clustered at the outer distance Alpha buoy to take best advantage of the fast running west to east flood tide. A few expensive collisions amongst the back markers ensued as some of the less experienced SB3 sailors struggled with their boat-handling but in the main the fleet got away to a much cheered “all clear” from the line spotters for an energetic jaunt in the central Solent. One of the big winners from the start, Christina Summerhayes in Team Maclaren, sailed an absolute blinder today and upset the established order in the fleet by recording a beautiful 1 minute 55 second race win from dinghy ace Geoff Carveth’s Small But Steamy. Yesterday’s winner, Price Waterhouse Coopers of Jono and Ben Shelley, held off the challenge of Glenn Bourke’s Musto to secure third spot whilst Russell Peters had his worst result of the regatta so far, finishing in a distant 36th place and proving that even with amazing boatspeed, if you get buried in the SB3 fleet it’s incredibly difficult to recover.

One family, two winners
One family that no doubt will be celebrating long into the night will be the husband and wife duo Graham and Julia Bailey who both scored wins in their respective classes of the International Etchells and the International Dragons. Graham Bailey had a real-flyer of a start aboard Arbitrator and took an early jump on the competitive fleet by ignoring the crowding at Alpha and picking up clear wind mid-line. Arbitrator was never headed and sailed through the line with a very healthy 3 minute 39 seconds winning delta – a lifetime in the Etchells fleet! Meanwhile Julia Bailey sailing Aimee in the Dragons edged out a very hard-fought final beat to just squeak across the finish line off the Skandia Barge 15 seconds ahead. A win’s a win at Skandia Cowes Week and the Bailey’s were the talk of the town for the inshore White Group fleets.