The Black Group round-up

At the top of the Black Group standings it’s incredibly tight between the Class 1 IRC leader (and race winner today) Fair Do’s VII of Professor John Shepherd and the J/109 Zelda of Mike Ewart-Smith who also carded a bullet today. Only 0.01 of a point separates the two going into tomorrow’s final race with Shepherd just getting the nod and for sure it will be all to play for as both boats have recorded an incredible six straight wins and a second place each. Fair Do’s VII just pips Zelda owing to fleet size and it will be fascinating to see just who emerges victorious in this titanic tussle.

As the final dayboats got away from the Squadron line just as ABN Amro One was finishing her course, the wind had filled to a glorious 12 knots beneath cotton-wool skies. The RS Elites and RS-K6s got away after a minor wind delay as the breeze filled in from the mainland shore but it was Charles Nicholson’s who got away to a flying start in the Elites and strode off into a very convincing 6 minute winning margin whilst in the RS-K6s it was a tough battle between the top three boats. Artigiano of Glyn Locke shaded a 19 second victory from Patrick Seely’s Liberty with Lonely Girl of Howard Garner a mere 12 seconds adrift in third.

The Seaview Mermaids meanwhile had a desperately close start with big fleet bunching on the outer distance Alpha buoy. The Dobbs owned Scuttle 62 managed to get away from the pack by the first mark however and stretched out their lead as the wind filled in the eastern Solent to record a 2 minute 10 second victory whilst in the Redwing fleet it was Caroline Peel’s Redstart II that got away to a flying start and led the fleet home by some 2 minutes 27 seconds. In the Victorys it was again the John Tremlett driven-Jeremy Lear owned Zinnia that showed terrific tactical nous on a short course that led the fleet home by 2 minutes 25 seconds. The XOD fleet again enjoyed a committee boat start today in the eastern Solent ahead of some very tactical short course racing with Adrian Summers managing to stay in control of the fleet on Selix II to win by 1 minute 23 seconds from the McKinnon, Hart and Foster owned Chartreuse. The XODs are racing for the prestigious Captain’s Cup that looks like heading the way of Kim Slater’s Alvin X who has proven once again in this fleet that consistency is the key to a good regatta as he has strung together a series of top ten results without ever recording a race win.

All eyes tonight, away from the much scrutinised class and overall results, will be on the annual fireworks display that traditionally provides an amazing climax to Skandia Cowes Week. With the Extreme 40s racing off the Green and the town of Cowes filling to capacity this evening, the 8,500 competitors of a record entry that has just topped 1,040 boats can reflect on a thoroughly enjoyable week of Solent racing. Stuart Quarrie, Director of Cowes Combined Clubs commenting on the record numbers said, “It’s particularly significant that the record has been broken this year when there are no additional yachts here for a Fastnet race and many yachts have already competed in Cork Week”.