Day two of the points series for the Cowes Classics Week classes got underway today in lighter breezes with some course-changing shifts which made and lost race positions. A tactic of heading up the left hand side of the beat on the windward-leeward course for the 50-strong XOD fleet put Ben Childerley’s X2 Palassie into a convincing lead giving him the win of the morning, but in the afternoon when trying the same tactic, aided by crew and father Stuart, they and the rest of the competitors were caught out by a 30 degree windshift turning the fleet inside out, putting them into a frustrating 31st finishing position, despite Bob Milner’s committee boat changing the course half way through the second race to account for it.
Once again it was down to the four committee boats spread across the north shore of the Solent to the east of Cowes to set windward leeward courses, laying on two or in some cases three races for each class. All classes were racing for Haines Boatyard Glasses, including the classic cruisers and gaffers who raced separately to the one-designs, from the fixed line of the organising Royal London Yacht Club.
Of these, the Classic Cruisers, including a number of vintage S&S Swans jostled on a combined start line with two eyecatching Tofinous, modern sleek yachts incorporating 1930s original design – Ted Fort’s Tofinou 9.5 Pippa and Caroline Aisher’s Tofinou 8 Lennie. Desperado, Richard Loftus’s 1977 Swan 65 ketch and the largest yacht in the fleet led around the Solent course to win today, beating Andrew Pearson’s Bojar into second place.
Conditions gave the gaffers a leisurely downwind start eastwards, also starting from the Royal London line, in two classes on 10 and 12 mile courses. The Silver (slower) Gaffers class had a shortened course as the wind failed but all were able to finish. Victory went to David Pennison’s Sepia and in the faster White fleet to Roy Hart’s Greensleeves although Hal Sisk’s Peggy Bawn at 116 years old, the oldest yacht in the fleet leads after two races.
Back on the north shore meanwhile, on their own dedicated committee boat race course, the two-crew Tempests were racing on the second day of their 2016 World Championships. Having lost Monday due to high winds Race Officer Gill Smith was keen to get things back on schedule. After three races today, she achieved that, with six races now in the bag. Like the XODs they suffered from the windshift in the third race which turned the run for these trapeze keelboats into an exciting reach. “It was not quite what I intended,” she said “but the fleet enjoyed the racing nonetheless.” Klaus Wende was pleased to be back with Ramadama after being holed yesterday – he had managed to get an overnight repair done, but it was Frank Weigelt in Holzwurm who continued to lead the international fleet after six races.
Six and Eight Metres shared a start for their two windward leeward courses, and the smaller Six, Sioma held onto a lead in her second race beating both Eights to the first windward mark. However, the real battles – in conditions well suited to Metre yachts – were between the two Eight Metres K33 Helen and K36 Athena. Christopher Courage’s Helen scored two firsts today but yesterday it was Athena owned by David Parson and the Earl of Cork and Orrery, who scored the same two wins, so they lie neck and neck after four races, sparring closely with each other on the race course. The two leading Sixes, Tom Richardson’s Thistle and Fenton Buroin’s Sioma are similarly positioned having each claimed two firsts and two seconds.
The Solent Sunbeams, meanwhile, have made their annual pilgrimage from Itchenor Sailing Club where the one-design fleet, designed in 1923, races very competitively in largely restored and optimised boats. Roger Wickens in Danny has three firsts and a fourth under his belt so far to take the lead after four races.
Christine Graves, racing National Swallow Gwaihir said “It was a typical Cowes day. Conditions were so changeable and on our second race, on a Solent marks course we looked like we were going well, then would find ourselves down the pan.” The Solent marks courses – as opposed to the windward leewards – have more challenges in that respect and sharing their course with the Flying Fifteens Gwaihir witnessed one making several attempts to get around a mark in the light winds and strong tides. But as Christine said “It was a lot of fun and all part of the excitement.”
Racing is organised by the Royal London Yacht Club with support from Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Cowes, Island Sailing Club and Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club.
This year’s event charity is the Miss Isle School of Sip & Puff Sailing – a unique sailing and training experience for physically disabled individuals who want to go sailing but aren’t able to sail a conventional boat. The charity is the brainchild of teenager Natasha Lambert, who has cerebral palsy herself, yet has already sailed around the Isle of Wight, up to the Thames, crossed the Channel, sailed over five hundred miles to Wales, and many other adventures.
The Organisers are grateful to all the sponsors. Cowes Classics Week 2017 dates: 17 to 21 July 2017.