Punch up in the western Solent

Racing was delayed in the Black Group today, to wait for the sea breeze to come and when it arrived, there was some fantastic sailing in the western Solent. At just after 1400, the west wind stabilised and built throughout the afternoon, eventually topping out at 20 knots. Annie and Nick Haigh were racing the DK46, Dark and Steamy in IRC 2. They have owned her for just over two years and have sailed over 10,000 miles, including a Trans-Atlantic in last year’s ARC.

“I think I have done more miles in Dark and Steamy than I have done in my car this year. Today we enjoyed some fantastic racing, probably the closest we have had this week.”
Said Dark and Steamy’s owner-driver, Nick Haigh.

The IRC2 fleet at Skandia Cowes Week, is twenty boats strong and all roughly the same size; Swan 45s and Farr 45s make up the bulk of the fleet, bristling with talent from the Volvo Ocean Race and the Americas Cup. The start and first beat was pretty frantic, yachts ducking transoms by inches with crews hiking until it hurt, to get the jump on the opposition. The first top mark was a real punch up; however, Henri Lloyd and WISC, had got away after a good beat up the favoured left hand side of the course and Dark and Steamy were third.

The race was held in brilliant sunshine with great breeze and Henri Lloyd enjoyed the clear air to take the gun. Dark and Steamy caught up with WISC overtaking them just before the line, to take second by less than a boat length, on the water.

The racing in IRC 2 is some of the closest racing in the Skandia Cowes Week Black Group.

The Swan 45s are also racing for a Class prize which Glynn Williams, WISC has won with a day to spare, Williams team also look certain to win IRC Class 2 overall; a magnificent achievement from a well drilled crew, made up some fine sailors. The owner is one of the best amateur drivers in the Solent and a fine ambassador for the sport.

Dark and Steamy lying second overall are similar in many ways to WISC, Nick Haigh has been racing for many years and is a highly accomplished helmsman, Annie Haigh is no slouch either, the Dark and Steamy crew are all family and friends and handled the boat extremely well.

Perhaps the difference between the two is best summed up by Nick Haigh;

“The WISC team are a class act, they have ramped up this season for the Swan Worlds, but we didn’t buy Dark and Steamy just for racing, we had a marvellous six months in the Caribbean, the DK46 is a great short handed boat, basically for most of the time, there was only myself and Annie on board,Dark and Steamy is like a second home for us.”

Photo: onEdition

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