Round up of results from the third day's racing. Best conditions so far 06/8/07

Bright blue skies provided the perfect backdrop to the special ‘Turning Cowes Blue’ day to raise funds for the Ellen MacArthur Trust, the regatta’s official charity.

There were prizes on offer for the best blue boat, the best blue individual and the best blue business and any vessels in the fleet with ‘blue’ in their name, such as Blue Genes, Blue Shark or Blue Tango came under extra pressure to perform!

The day culminates with the Ellen MacArthur Trust Ball at the Haven Events Centre, which is set to raise thousands of pounds as a collection of sailing memorabilia and a range of big brand items go under the hammer in a silent auction.

So, how did the ‘blues’ do?

Blue Skies, the Dragon campaigned by Matthew Ratsey from the famous sail-making family, was looking for a better result on ‘Turning Cowes Blue’ day after a disappointing start to the week but it was Rumours, Len Jones’ two times class winner at previous Skandia Cowes Weeks who made the best start to the 17nm course.

Ken Mizen and Don Laing’s 25 year-old Contessa 32, Blue Shark, posted a 6th place to add to their two fourths achieved so far. In the past six years, Blue Shark’s results have gradually improved, rising from 15th in 2001 to 11th in 2003 and up to 5th last year. This year they were lying in 4th place after two races and clearly hae a podium place in their sights.

For the moment, Eldred Himsworth’s Drumbeat has the momentum after completing a stonking nine minute victory over 2006 champions Blanco, campaigned by Ray Rouse.

Fishy tails

The colourful Seaview Mermaid class, celebrating its centenary, was one of the last classes to start on the Royal Yacht Squadron line this morning with the tide running at over two knots. Bluebell, owned by the Randall family, made a respectable start but beyond the ‘blue’ horizon, it was the Dobbs’ Sheen that dominated racing.

In the third race, they posted a second, more than three minutes behind Adastra, which guarantees a nail biter in the fight for the Mermaid crown.

The fleet attracted one of the largest crowds of the morning, which was not surprising since the class is special to the Isle of Wight. It was first established in 1907 by members of the Sea View Yacht Club. The early models, some of which still race in Skandia Cowes Week, were made from makore, whilst the newer ones are made from GRP. Hulls and spinnakers tend to match and can come in lurid colours, which makes them distinctive and therefore popular with spectators.

Battle of the Netherlands in full swing

There was only one general recall on the RYS start line this morning and once again, it was not the Laser SB3s, a feat that raised another ripple of applause amongst race officials on the Squadron platform. This time it was Class 3 IRC who were black flagged as they tried for best position near the Committee Vessel end of the line.

They were sent off on a 22nm course towards Newtown and across to Beaulieu in ideal conditions. A west south-westerly breeze of around 16 knots and long sunny spells put smiles on faces, and although Chris Tibbs warned the fleet of squalls, none materialised.

The form boats in Class 3 IRC, namely Kees Kaan’s Grand Soleil 43 Roark and Sander Speet’s Grand Soleil 44 Holmatro, were again in the running to post a first and second separated by around three minutes on the water and just two seconds on handicap.

The Battle of the Netherlands resumes tomorrow and looks set to be one of the fiercest fought contests of the regatta as Speet seeks to add to his class triumphs of 2003 and 2004 and Kaan builds on his success with Team Roark, overall winner IRC 1 in the 2007 North Sea Regatta.

…even the air turned blue

A large number of skippers lent their support to the day’s ‘blue’ theme when they committed cardinal sins on the start line or were found wanting in their navigational skills.

Glenn Bourke in Musto was OCS (On course side) at the Laser SB3s start and was forced to cross the line again. However, the three times Laser world champion sailed a blinder to surge through the fleet to second place. Colin Simonds showed he is in contention for the winner’s podium with another excellent performance in Doolalli, posting a 59-second win to leave the class as wide open now after three races, as it was on Saturday.

A few dayboats ‘rocked’ their bottoms when they veered too near to the beach after crossing the RYS start line. Jane Paull’s Mint Sauce was one of two casualties in the Squib class whilst avoidance tactics in both the Solent Sunbeam and Victory fleets proved thoroughly entertaining and thankfully not terminal.

Out in the Western Solent, there were red faces all round on the TP52 St James’s Place which ended up aground just off Yarmouth, dashing any hopes that Peter Harding and Chris Brown had of a top three position in Class 1 IRC.

Their claim on the Skandia Cowes Week website entry list that their new acquisition, the former Cristabella, ‘will be one of the most seen big boats on the Solent’ was likely to attract a round of sarcastic ripostes when they reached the Yacht Haven bar!

Hail the Quail

The X-One Design fleet once more made for a magnificent sight when they were given a Committee Vessel start off Hill Head. Not surprisingly, the 71 boats were the subject of a general recall but second time round, got clean away on a long first beat designed to test their mettle.

After a thrilling 11nm circuit, Simon Russell was first home in Swallow beating Lucrezia by 20 seconds to add to his consistent performances over the first two days. One rival he won’t have to worry about is Josephine who last night was towed to a repair yard after being dismasted following her collision with the Tall Ship J.R. Tolkein in which the bowsprit ripped out Josephine’s backstay.

Happily, the crew on Josephine was allowed to switch classes and took up an offer of the Redwing, Quail, which Eliot Motherwell, Mark Jardine and Jamie Wilson campaigned today, with a spectacular success. After a poor start, in next to no wind just off The Green, they were in fifth at the top mark and then put their feet on the gas to see off their closest rivals Toucan to the tune of a minute and 15 seconds.

“It was great fun and has made us think that maybe we could win the class which would make up for what happened to us on Sunday,” said Motherwell, Josephine’s owner.

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