Adrenalin packed sailing gives some close results in the sportsboat and keelboat fleets

The International Flying Fifteens saw a return to form for the evergreen Mander brothers on Men Behaving Badly who are challenging hard for the top overall spot in the White Group but must rely on slip-ups from the boats ahead of them. Today the Manders were just a click faster than the fleet as they cruised across the finishing barge line with a comfortable 2 minute 4 second victory displaying awesome downwind boatspeed and hard hiking upwind. The 38 Sonars meanwhile had a very packed start as they headed downwind and downtide to the eastern Solent. A great battle ensued for the top spot with Barry Byham’s Whatever beating their fellow Cowes-based Asbo of Duncan Bates by some 52 seconds. Asbo enjoyed a great final beat battle to just hold off third placed Richard Bailey’s We’re Here with a delta of just 2 seconds separating the pair! The Bruce Kirby designed Sonars are having a terrific series and the closeness of these superb one-design dayboats was amplified by today’s winners who were within a hair’s breadth of each other after two and a half hours of racing.

Another fleet that’s seeing a tough tussle at the top end are the Hunter 707’s with Cowes-based Peter Dickson sailing Star Born 3 and Russell Mead’s the Ant Hill Mob having a really close battle for supremacy. Dickson got the nod today to deny Mead a hat-trick of wins and cements his overall position at the top of the 707 standings. Meanwhile one of the most popular inshore fleets this year at Skandia Cowes Week, the National Squibs have seen some fantastic racing in the 38-strong fleet and are quite the most distinctive boats on the water with their mace coloured sails. Today it was the turn of David White and Peter Ballam sailing Easy to a very popular race win, overturning the early leader Ghost Rider of Mike and Penny Fenwick to record a 56 second victory. Chris Creak’s Blue Phantom, returned to winning form after yesterday’s cancelled racing in the Swallow class with a comfortable 1 minute 46 second victory whilst in the Redwing fleet it was James Wilson’s Quail who streaked away to record a massive 5 minutes 28 second win after leading from start to finish. Quail’s middle man, Mark Jardine was ecstatic with the day’s racing saying, “It was one of those great Solent days when everything comes together. Luckily we kept the boat together today as we’ve had a few breakages this week but hats off to the regatta organisers and course setters who have given us brilliant courses down in the eastern Solent where the tactical options are really interesting. The most wind we saw today was just above 20 knots on the final beat back to the barge finish line to the west of Osborne Bay but to be honest it was perfectly manageable and a great day on the water.”

Meanwhile the Laser SB3’s got away, once again, to a flying downwind start on the first attempt of their lengthened starting sequence to complete a fast course in the sheltered eastern Solent. Surprisingly, with a fast running west to east flood tide, the majority of the fleet exercised good speed on distance judgement as a large gaggle of SB3’s congregated on the outer distance Alpha buoy as the gun fired, but it was Glenn Bourke aboard Musto who calmly started on a fast port gybe in mid-line who headed the fleet down to the Hill Head shoreline. Giving chase were Russell Peters in Selden Seen and Price Waterhouse Coopers of Jono Shelley who overhauled Bourke by the first mark and then extended their lead over the next three legs to the finish enjoying a fantastic tussle that was just edged by Peters after two hours and forty minutes by a desperately close 33 seconds. These two were some three and a half minutes clear of the rest of the fleet that were brought home by David Cheyne’s Bucca with Bourke having to settle for another fourth place. Undoubtedly the SB3’s are one of the most eagerly watched classes in Skandia Cowes Week and with everything to play for in the final standings as we reach the climax to the regatta, it will be fascinating to see who emerges on top. Currently (and before discard) it’s Price Waterhouse Coopers who look good for the regatta win but if Selden Seen can keep it all together going into the final stretch or Glenn Bourke’s Musto can find some much needed bullets, it will be a thrilling conclusion to this, the most talked about inshore fleet.

In the RS Elite and RS-K6 fleets that start as a combined fleet on the inner Squadron line, both enjoyed some tough beats especially for the K6’s but it was Glyn Locke sailing Artigiano who managed to get away cleanly at the start to bring the fleet home with a convincing winning delta of 2 minutes 14 seconds and record his third straight bullet of the week. Meanwhile the Elites saw a tough battle for second place as Mike Tong’s Ciao Bella streaked into an unassailable lead leaving Buzz Keck’s Eloise and Steve Powell’s E’Tu slugging out the final beat with just 4 seconds separating the two in the favour of Keck.

Interestingly it was another deja-vu result in the J/80 fleet as Chris Savage helmed Liz Savage’s Savage Sailing to another race win as they squeezed out a 34 second victory from Peter Henney’s Nemo whilst the 1720’s had a very close fought race with James Clay’s Finn M’Coul scoring a 20 second victory over the Mark Greenaway owned La Licorne. Interestingly Clay is pushing hard in the overall standings for the Skandia Young Skipper’s Trophy entering today’s race in second place. A win will certainly help his cause as his main rival David Miller in Class 8 ISC could only manage a third place today so it will be all eyes on the concluding races to decide this prestigious title.