Today was one of civilised sailing in bright sun in an unstable and gusty north-northwesterly wind that produced gusts of 17 knots for the early starts, but also dropped to as little as 6-10 knots at times.
The conditions created a serious challenge for teams to judge time and distance on the fixed start lines. With the wind further into the north than yesterday the Black Group yachts starting from the Bramble line had a fast reach to East Bramble, their first mark. The boats equipped with Code 0s had an advantage over those who only had more conventional nylon spinnakers in their inventory.
In IRC Class 0, the largest boat in the fleet, the Farr 65 UKSA Whirlwind ll, was closest to the line at the gun. However, the overall class leader after the first three races, Piet Vroon’s Ker 51 Tonnerre 4, shot ahead when she unfurled and sheeted on the Code 0, fully powered up and spilling wind from the mainsail in the strongest gusts. James Bolingbroke’s Ker 46 Lady Mariposa Rwas second away from the line, but was then overtaken by Performance Yacht Racing’s TP52 Conviction.
Tonnerre took line honours in today’s three and a half hour race, almost 10 minutes ahead of Lady Mariposa R, but slipped to fourth place on corrected time. Leeloo, Harold Vermeulen’s MAT1180 took second on corrected time, three minutes behindLady Mariposa R and two minutes ahead of Ruaridh Wright’s team of Scottish students on the RP46 Katsu Team Strathclyde in third place
“We’re very pleased with today’s result, particularly because it is our first time here,” said Bolingbroke. “It was so shifty, with winds shifting up to 60 degrees, succeeding today was all keeping your head out the boat and leaving decisions to the last possible moment.. It is great to be up against a lot of the same type of boats. We are learning a lot about the boat’s performance abilities and gradually improving.”
IRC Class 1 saw much flogging of Code 0s in the final 30 seconds before the start. Richard Matthews’ Humphreys 39 Oystercatcher XXXl led the fleet away from the line, sailing under only mainsail and jib. Matthews’ then luffed James Gair’s Mills 39 Zero llsharply, compounding the problems Gair was having with his spinnaker. However, it was a move that let Mike Greville’s Ker 39 Erivale lll to take the lead.
Nevertheless, Matthews regained the lead on the water, taking line honours more than two minutes ahead of Zero ll. However, one of the lowest rated boats in the class, Christopher Daniel’s J/122E Juno was only 20 seconds behind Zero ll. It was a performance that earned Juno first place on corrected time, ahead of Alan, Bruce and James Douglas’ J/133 Spirit of Jacana, with Zero ll taking third on handicap.
The J/111 one design rules don’t allow for a Code 0s so all boats opted to start under main and jib, rather than risking an asymmetric spinnaker. Dutch entry Paul van Driel’s Sweeny led the fleet into a perfect start, hitting the line at speed two lengths clear ahead of Simon Grier-Jones’ Snow Leopard, with Tony Mack’s McFly and Martin Dent’s Jelvis, the latter winner of the world championship in Cowes last week, in hot pursuit.
McFly led for much of the race, but Jelvis played the wind shifts well on the fourth leg and moved into the lead that they stretched to four minutes by the finish. “We have been enjoying really close nip and tuck racing all week, finishing within seconds of each other,” said Dent. “It really has been fantastic one-design racing. Today we got lucky, managing to pick up a lucky shift and snatch the lead from Tony Mack’s team onMcFly.”
There was generally less wind closer inshore on the Royal Yacht Squadron line, where the White Group dayboats also had a reaching start, albeit heading west against the tide.
Both the J/70 and SB20 classes completed their seven race mini series today. An emphatic win in his J/70 RAF Benevolent Fund Spitfire ahead of Gordon and Morten Nickel, Nils Farmer and Nick Schlomka’s Just in Time sealed Ling’s overall win by a single point ahead of Just in Time. Fourth place today for Claire Lasko’s Elizabeth put her in third place overall, two points ahead of Ali Hall’s J Curve.
A win for David Atkinson’s Sweaty Betty In the SB20 Grand Slamtoday wasn’t enough to lift him into a podium position overall. Jerry Hill’s Sportsboatworld.com secured his overall win with a second place today, while third place for Carlo Brenco’s Un’altra Claudia left him tied on points with John Pollard’s Xcellent, with the count back for second place overall resolved in the Italian boat’s favour.
The J/80 start at 1045 coincided with a lull in the wind. Wally Walters’ Wild Wally was perfectly positioned, almost stemming the tide with her bow next to the outer distance mark, at the gun. She then accelerated away to take a one length lead a little to windward of Kevin Sproul and Chris Taylor’s JAT. At the end of the first race JAT held a 105 second advantage on Jon Powell’s Betty, with Chris Body’s Mocking Jay taking third place one minute later.
By the time of the Sonar start at 1125 the wind was back up to a perfect 10-12 knots off the Royal Yacht Squadron line. Peter Evans’ Miscreant sheeted on prematurely and crossed the line nine seconds early, followed by a gaggle of five other boats including the Paralympic team of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel, Steve Thomas and Adam Greaves on Mandeville BSST.
The Paralympians were the only team to return to start correctly and yet managed to claw their way back to finish first, crossing the line 20 seconds ahead of Alistair Barter’s Bertie. However,Bertie was one of the boats that had started prematurely, leaving Barry Byham and Simon Clarke’s Dolphin to take second place when they crossed the line 42 seconds later. Chris Jago’sDiscard took third place, scoring his first podium finish of the week.
“We had a really good first beat and rounded the windward mark in second place behind Bertie,” said Hannah. “We were neck and neck heading towards Hamble Yacht Services but both missed it! Thankfully Adam [Greaves] was first to spot the correct mark so we took the advantage and found ourselves in the lead. We had to work at maintaining it but managed to hold it to the end.”
Today was also Slingsby Gin Ladies Day at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, which celebrates women in sailing. On the water 80 women helms across varied classes raced for the Royal Southern Yacht Club’s Ariel Trophy. This was won by Emma Baker in her Squib Buccaneer, with Emma Toman (J/109Judgement Day) second and Laura Dillon (Sparkman and Stephens 41, Winsome) third.
Among other initiatives today, record breaking round the world racer Dee Caffari launched a new ‘women into sailing’ careers initiative for Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week official charity UKSA.
Founder members of The Magenta Project, set up as a legacy of Team SCA – the all-female team who competed in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race – have also been at the regatta this week. The project’s mission now is to help create opportunities and pathways for women at the elite end of the sport. Activities today included coaching for the Musto Under 25 Team ‘Pimp my ride’ winners, plus a chance for local young women sailors to sail a state of the art M32 performance catamaran.
Magenta Project director of operations, Libby Greenhalgh, winner of last year’s Ladies Day Trophy, will present it to this year’s winner at an evening reception.
Image: Paul Wyeth/PWP Pictures