Seven-strong Open 60 fleet head off round the island on inaugural Artemis Challenge 8/8/07

In contrast to the previous few days which has seen competitors at Skandia Cowes Week basking in high temperatures there’s a distinct nip in the air this morning as the fleets head out to the start line for the fifth day of racing.

The current, cool northerly gradient wind this morning will decrease by lunchtime but there could be a chance of a sea breeze later in the day. Chris Tibbs, the sailing weather expert, says it’ll probably max out at about Force 2-3 later this afternoon.

Not particularly ideal therefore for the seven-strong Open 60 fleet which has just (1000) set off round the island in the inaugural Artemis Challenge and Class Zero on the same course. However, a steady light breeze made for a perfect start for the Open 60 class. The fleet includes: Artemis Ocean Racing skippered by Jonny Malbon with celebrity guest Lady Gabriella Windsor, Estrella Damm with Guillermo Altadil on the helm, Roxy helmed by Sam Davies, Spirit of Weymouth (Steve White), Mirabaud (Xavier Lecoeur), Akena Verandas (Arnaud Boissieres) and Pindar (Mike Sanderson).

Chatting toyachtingworld.comfrom Spirit of Weymouth celebrity guest Johnny Ball said: “I’m loving it. I’m currenly on the grinding machine and they’re working me hard. We’re not doing particularly well yet but we’ll get them round the back of the island; the day is young. We’re just appoaching the Needles and I’m just about to point out to the crew the my friend’s beautiful house which overlooks the Solent.”

The relatively old Open 60 Spirit of Weymouth (ex Gartmore) is owned by Steve White. Although they are, not surprisingly, in the latter half of the fleet they are still in contact with the newer, faster boats and as they head out to the Needles they’ve just seen Estrella Damm lead the fleet round followed by Pindar. Louay Habib, also on the grinder, confirmed the conditions as ideal. “The wind is building all the time and we’re now trucking off wind on a tightish reach in 14 kts of wind. We can also see the boats ahead really heeling, so all looks promising for a fine blast round the back of the island.

Meanwhile the Laser SB3s have started their fifth race and Geoff Carveth, the current class leader continues his dominating form. Just 10 minutes into the race Carveth is out in front again and has already gained a significant lead.

Keep an eye on for news as it happens from Skandia Cowes Week.

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