The second day's racing is over and here are the results so far
Day two delivered stunning racing conditions, clear skies and a gusty breeze that topped 20 knots throughout the afternoon. However the Laser SB3’s were drowning their sorrows shoreside as two general recalls resulted in Principal Race Officer Malcolm McKeag having to take the difficult decision to abandon the class for the day to ensure no further disruption to the lengthy starting sequence on the inshore White Group line.
The knock-on effects of general recalls can cause havoc for the later starters and with the benefit of hindsight, the decision would, although disappointing for the 85-strong SB3 fleet, seem to be correct. Certainly there were some dismayed sailors kicking their heels in Cowes as they eyed the rest of the fleets having one of the sails of the year in stunning, picture-perfect conditions. Afternoon consultations with the class association and the organisers of Skandia Cowes Week ensued as a compromise solution was weighed up to ensure that this exciting class, brimming with talented sailors, can avoid further disruption to their series. A longer line will be introduced for the White Group fleet overnight with the moving of the Alpha outer distance mark and the starting time for the Laser SB3’s has been brought forward to 10:05 to allow up to three recalls without affecting the second start (International Etchells) whose schedule will remain unchanged. Further tweaks to the Sailing Instructions will see the Black Flag meaning instant disqualification and, if after three recalls, the fleet still can’t get away, they will be placed on the Committee Boat start line.
“We’re certainly not trying to teach the Laser’s a lesson,” said McKeag, “It was a very difficult decision to take to abandon the fleet but we, as organisers, have to cater for over 1,000 boats and it would have been unacceptable to, say the XOD fleet (the last starters) to push their starting sequence back to a time when expected finishers would be crossing the Squadron line. We did have that situation last year and we’ve done everything to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. I feel terrible for the Laser SB3 fleet but, as a race officer, sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions for the good of the majority.”
Away from this hot talking point, it was quite simply the most magical Solent day as the 1,028 yachts provided an amazing spectacle to the thousands of spectators that lined the banks of Cowes to witness yachts and dayboats of all different sizes jostling for pole position on beats up the Green against the tide. Several of the inshore classes came foul of the various rocks that lay in wait for the over-ambitious on the way up to Egypt Point but once away into the Western Solent they were greeted by a building breeze that remained steady from the South-West all afternoon. The increasing wind did however claim a few broken masts and booms as well as an unhealthy amount of ripped sails ensuring that the boatbuilders and sailmakers of Cowes will be burning the midnight oil long into the night.
For the glamour boats in Class Zero, it was a committee boat start that then saw the fleet heading to the eastern Solent on a 42 nautical mile course that eventually brought them back to just off Cowes for a thunderous and spectacular spinnaker run back to the finish line. Once again it was the Volvo Ocean Race winning yacht ABN Amro One, with laconic kiwi skipper Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson that lead the Class Zero’s home as they displayed faultless crew-work honed on the world’s oceans over 31,000 miles and really put the hammer down today to win on the water by a little over 52 minutes. ABN’s corrected time victory was just shy of 10 minutes and she’s certainly proving to be the star attraction both on and off the water at Skandia Cowes Week 2006. Charles Dunstone’s TP52 Red finished second in Class Zero after a real battle with the other TP52 Panthera but it was Colm Barrington’s beautiful Ker 50, Magic Glove that sealed third spot on corrected time after a long day on the water.
On the Royal Yacht Squadron lines the fleets got away to the western Solent with the inshore fleets hugging the island shoreline whilst the Black Group headed for the mainland. The long beat against the tide certainly favoured those boats with the most preparation as crews short-tacked for favourable tidal conditions. Scoring their second win of the regatta, the Daring Dauntless of Milo Carver and Giles Peckham scorched away from a perfect start and sailed on to record a comfortable 1 minute 31 second victory. Carver is clearly the star helm in this fleet and looks to be in unstoppable form. A return to form came in the International Flying Fifteen fleet as Rupert and John Mander turned up the heat on the class to win by the huge margin of 3 minutes 18 seconds in this highly competitive fleet. The International Etchells meanwhile enjoyed near-perfect conditions for their race and blasted around their 17 nautical mile course with Graham and Stephen Bailey showing a very clean pair of heels on Arbitrator to streak across the line some 4 minutes 37 seconds ahead of class stalwart Mike Sparks aboard Nine.
In the Dragon fleet, a very competitive race right from the starting gun ensued but it was Len Jones who seized the early initiative after a great mid-line start who brought the fleet home sailing Rumours to a close-run 39 second victory. The 1720’s had a very eventful start with Stephen Porter’s Polyphagus firmly ramming a rock just off the Green before dragging their bowman back into the boat after a man overboard incident. Polyphagus regained their composure to climb back into second place but were unable to stop runaway leader Mark Greenaway on La Licorne from recording a 2 minute victory. Another fast starter in the 38-strong National Squib fleet saw Mike and Penny Fenwick pick their way through the fleet on Ghost Rider to steal a 57 seconds victory from David White’s Easy whilst in the Redwing fleet a broken lower shroud on yesterday’s winner Quail forced their retirement as Dr Jeremy Cuddigan secured a hard won 37 second victory aboard Capella II from Lady Laetitia of the Clegg family.
The story for the offshore Black groups was one of conservative starting as every fleet got away with an “all clear” call from the Squadron spotters. The fast running west to east flood tide caught many of the navigators out as their timed-runs fell woefully short but for the experienced crews it was business as usual at the front of the IRC fleets. In Class 6 IRC the MG346 Dean & Dyball Enigma of Ian Braham got away to a perfect start to lead the fleet by an enormous margin on a long beat up the mainland shore and finished close enough to Mike Tattersall’s Electra to record a 1 minute 24 seconds corrected time victory. It was the same story in the Contessa 32 fleet as Ray Rouse’s Blanco took advantage of the fleet’s line-shyness to establish an early lead before sailing to a resounding 5 minute 23 second win from Kay Carpenter’s Polar Star. One of the bigger wins of the day however came in the J-109 fleet as Andrew Roberts guided Alice to a thumping 18 minute victory over Johnny Blue II of Chaz Ivill. Ben Goodland once again thundered around the multihull racecourse in Team Eberspacher to record a massive 32 minute win over Carbon Tiger 2 of Brian Haynes and firmly establish a commanding series lead whilst in the Sigma 33 fleet Richard and Valerie Griffith scored their second bullet of the regatta aboard Cerefe.
Class 7 IRC saw Jamie McWilliam’s quarter-tonner Espada Wanchai Belle narrowly score the race win from fellow quarter-tonner Odd Job of Paul Treliving whilst in the ubiquitous Sunsail 37 fleet Team Jarrett was eventually overhauled after a stunning start by the Spring Law team who won by the narrowest of margins, just one second, in the tightest finish of the day. The Sigma 38 fleet produced tight racing once again as John and Jackie Edwards reversed yesterday’s misfortune of a DSQ to win by 40 seconds from Pete Diamond’s Rapscallion. Adam Gosling meanwhile put it all together on his beautiful Corby 37 Yes! with a cast of rock star sailors to record his first victory of the regatta in Class 2 IRC and another usual front-runner Alvine Jackobite of Harry Evans found some form today to lead home Class 4 IRC. Harry Heijst had to settle for second place today in Class 5 IRC aboard the beautiful Winsome as Mark Ashwell powered away to a convincing win on his Elan 333 White Lotus. In Class 8 ISC, Tony Wyeth scored a second victory on Ocean Venture by a commanding 5 minutes whilst Simon Osgood’s Folkboat So! made light work of the heavy weather to sail off to a massive17 minute winning margin. There was no change too at the top of the leader board in Class 1 IRC with Professor John Shepherd doing just enough to hold off the challenge of Glynn Williams on Wisc. Class 3 IRC saw a return to form of Paul McNamara on Incognito who won today’s race by just 5 seconds having scored an OCS on Saturday to put the pressure back onto the shoulders of Tim Spalding in Amey Love Shack who sailed hard but just fell short by the closest of margins on corrected time.
As the afternoon wore on the slower inshore boats filed across the Squadron finishing line with John Tremlett bringing home Zinnia in the Victory class to score his second class win as Peter Baines followed suit and scored an impressive second bullet in the competitive 73-strong XOD fleet. Iain Kirkpatrick scored another massive win in the X332 fleet to seal his position at the top of the class whilst in the Solent Sunbeams once again it was John and Valerie Davis who scooped the silverware aboard Fleury. Andrew Aldwinckle sailed a very consistent race in the Hunter 707’s to bring Doh! across the line some 1 minute 41 seconds clear of the fleet but in the J/80 fleet a pending protest could upturn the race today. Peter Henney’s Nemo currently is scored with the win from Liz Savage’s Savage Sailing but a long evening in the protest room will finally decide the outcome of today’s racing.