Today’s racing in an increasing south-southwesterly breeze determined the overall class winners at Cowes Week, as well as those for Black and White groups and the whole regatta.
James Wilson and Ed Peel’s Redwing Quail posted a perfect scoreline to win the class, White Group and Cowes Week overall. “It is absolutely fantastic,” Peel said after stepping ashore today, “We’ve never won it before so we are all delighted. James [Peel’s brother in law] helmed brilliantly earlier in the week, but with his work commitments, I had the pressure maintaining our lead.
“Today the race committee made the great decision to keep the races short and get everyone back on shore before the foul weather turned up. Thankfully our win put us in a good position for the overall win – we are delighted we were able to achieve it with family and friends.” It’s the 14th year the family-owned boat has won its class at Cowes since it was built in 1989.
Giovanni Belgrano’s 80-year-old 38ft Laurent Giles classic Whooper showed mastery in IRC Class 6 all week, finishing the regatta with an unbroken run of first places. It was a performance that also earned victory overall in Black Group. Belgrano was delighted with his win, but said it was exceptionally tough in this highly competitive fleet.
Commenting on today’s race he said: “We had to sail well today because GR8 Banter, our closest rival, was getting stronger and stronger – we were pushed hard. We had a good start and played shifts to get ahead. On the long downwind leg we decided to ‘go big or go home’. It was risky and we were rolling around a bit but it was the right decision.” Ian Handley’s Mustang 30 GR8 Banter took a comfortable second place overall, five points ahead of Toby Gorman’s Sigma 33 Stan the Boat.
A key reason teams that notch up class wins at Cowes Week are always very proud of their achievement – and put in a huge effort in advance – is that the racing tests every aspect of sailing skills. These include navigation, boat speed on every point of sail and the widest possible range of start-line scenarios.
There was plenty of action on the combined start for IRC Classes 0 and 1 today, with many boats already on the line with 60 seconds to go, even though the tide was sweeping them on course side, forcing some rapid repositioning. A loud bang just before the cannon indicated a collision between Gerd-Jan Poortman’s Ker 46 Van Uden and Ed Fishwick’s Fast 40+ Redshift. Both boats then retired, with Redshift having obvious damage, including a flattened pushpit rail on her stern, for which she was granted redress.
Mark Rijkse’s GP42 42 Degrees South notched up her fourth first place today, winning IRC Class 0 with a score of only seven points. Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator took second overall, counting 12 points and Redshift third, just 1.2 points behind. It was a hotly-contested week, with Nial Dowling’s Fast 40+ Arabella missing out on a podium place by only 0.8 points.
The smallest boat in IRC Class 1, Russell Peters’ new IC37 Kanreki, stormed to victory, counting four first places and one third. Jan de Kraker’s Swan 45 K-Force took second overall, on 12 points, while Bertie Bicket’s Swan 42CS Fargo finished third overall, despite an OCS score today.
While the weather was still benign under the shelter of the lsland shore for the early starts, larger gusts could be seen further offshore. However, the sea state at this stage was relatively smooth, thanks to the east-going main tidal stream.
In IRC Class 2 Adam Gosling’s JPK11.80 Yes! made what appeared to be an uncharacteristically late start at the inshore end of the line, where there was less wind, but a favourable inshore tidal eddy, as well as a shorter effective distance to the first mark. Within six minutes it appeared all three boats in the leading group – Christopher Daniel’s J/122 Juno, Ian Schenkel and David Cummins’ Ker 39 Rumbleflurg, and Yes! – had gained a big advantage inshore.
Yes! Won today’s race to finish the series counting only five points from five races. Tony Mack’s J/111 McFly took second overall on 14 points, and another J/111, Hans Zwijnenburg and Martijn Worseling’s Sweeny third with 22 points.
In IRC Class 3 two First 40s – Richard Patrick’s Dusty P and Joe and Rob Bottomley’s Sailplane Bucketlust – emerged as the only front-row starters, on the inshore edge of the pack. Sailplane Bucketlust was able to stay up in the shallow water for longer and was first to hook into the more stable breeze as they passed the headland at Egypt Point, gaining a further useful advantage.
Another First 40, Alex and Andy Moore’s Tilt Racing, took line honours, and won today’s race on corrected time. It was a performance that lifted her two places up the overall leaderboard, tied with Andrew McIrvine’s La Réponse and taking third place overall on countback. Class victory, however, went to John Barratt and Paul Woodfoot’s Corby 36 Stiletto (formerly Mustang Sallyand Yes!) which has now won her class five times in the past 25 years. Sailplane Bucketlust took the runners up spot one point ahead of Tilt Racing.
The HP30 class has witnessed plenty of exhilarating racing this week, with several boats reporting boat speeds close to 20 knots. Today Richard Rankin’s Farr 280 Pandemonium got away to a perfect start, Glyn Locke’s F280 Toucan and Sture Wickman’s Swedish McConaghy 30 Vitres having jumped the gun by a 6-7 second margin, loosing a lot of time in returning to start correctly.
The series leader at the start of the day, Malcolm Wootton’s Farr 30 Pegasus Dekmarx, had a shocker and didn’t cross the line until two minutes after the gun, and even then was at the unfavourable outer end. Yet Wootton pulled up to second place today, to take overall victory 11 points ahead of Toucan, winning the class national championship at the same time. Richard Wood’s J/90 Jo 90 was third overall, just two points adrift of Toucan.
In the J/109 fleet Ross Walker’s Brown Teal judged the start nicely, tacking onto port at the inshore end on the gun, and looked as though she would soon pull out a useful early lead. The class leader to date – and second overall in Black Group – Dutch entry, Caroline van Beelen and Rutger Krijger’s Jack Rabbit – appeared buried in the second row mid-line. Yet she managed to extricate herself from the pack, tack inshore and gain the upper hand within five minutes of the gun. It was a masterful example that you don’t need to be a Solent local to read the conditions here to perfection.
Jack Rabbit went on to win today’s race by more than four minutes, completing an unbroken scoreline of first places. Simon Perry’s Jiraffe took second overall, one point ahead of Chris and Victoria Preston’s Jubilee.
IRC Class 4 saw J/112Es take four of the top five places overall. David Frank’s Leon won the class with a day to spare. Today, Lena Having and Eivind Boymo-Malm’s Corby 33 Mrs Freckles, Bruce Huber’s J/112e Xanaboo and James Chalmers’ J/112E Happy Daize were all front-row at the start, with the latter holding the windward advantage inshore. Huber won today’s race ahead of yet another J/112E, Marie-Claude Heys’ Davanti Tyres, cementing his overall position as runner up. Paul McNamara’s First 40.7 Incognito took third overall, two points behind Huber and one point ahead of Heys.
There has also been close competition in IRC Class 5, which has seen nine different winners and 16 boats score at least one podium place across the two class 5a and 5b divisions. By now there were bigger gusts on the start line than for the earlier classes, and much of the action was at the inshore end of the line. Around 70 seconds before the start Harry Heijst’s S&S41 Winsomewas off the mouth of the River Medina on port tack, looking as though he intended to tack onto starboard towards the inshore end of the line. However, Mike Moxley’s HOD 35 Malice clearly had similar plans, and was soon in a controlling position. Both boats then dramatically port tacked the fleet, clearing just ahead of the pack on starboard tack. But both crossed the line before the gun and didn’t respond to the second cannon signalling a recall.
Mike Bridges’ JPK10.10 Elaine Again won today’s race for IRC Class 5a, and finished the series tied on nine points with Winsome. Bridges’ team won the countback to take first overall, while Ronsyn Borghijs’ young family crew on the Archambault 35 Tontin Pups took third overall. Today’s race tightened the leaderboard at the top of IRC Class 5b, which was dominated by three J/92s. David Greenhalgh’s J’Ronimo retained the overall lead after today’s race, 1.5 points ahead of Jack Bank’s Nightjar, while Andy Knowles and Alan Macleod’s Samurai J took third overall.
A £500 boat, Kevin Downer’s 39-year-old Fun 23 Ziggy, dominated IRC Class 7, winning the class overall counting a score of six points from five races. It was a performance that earned an impressive fourth place overall in Black Group. Another budget design, the Hunter Sonata, took second and third places overall: Chris Halewood’s Kallista and Ollie Smith’s Joey.
The Double-Handed class was hotly contested this year, with Natalie Jobling’s J/105 Mostly Harmless taking first overall two points ahead of Colin Walker’s J/109 Jura. Richard Letts’ American-based VQ32 Gillette Hospital, in which he crossed the Atlantic earlier this year in preparation for next year’s OSTAR race, was third overall.
The GRP Classics class had a modest entry, but very close competition among some very experienced Solent racers. Stephen Brookson’s Swan 411 Kiswala won today’s race, but ended the series in second overall, just one point behind Tom Richardson’s She 31 Arctic Skua. Another She 31, Leon Clifton’s Sheba, took third overall, just three points adrift.
Familiar names in a class that’s renowned for competitive family sailing headed the Contessa 32scoreboard for most of the week. Eldred Himsworth’s Drumbeat won overall, an impressive five points ahead of two boats tied on 11 points – Ray Rouse’s Blanco and Donna and Martin Rouse-Collen’s Andaxi. The tie break for second overall was resolved in Blanco’s favour.
A retirement today for James Stapleford’s Mumm 36 Panther slightly shuffled the leaderboard in Cruiser Division A. Charles Esse’s X43 Baby X had a great week, winning the class by a seven point margin ahead of Lord Michael Grade’s Shipman 50 Zephyr. Stapleford slipped to third overall today, just one point behind Grade.
Pete Newlands’ First 40.7 Anticipation stamped his authority on Cruiser Division B, winning every race. Michael Carrington’s Sweden Yachts 45 Susimi ll also had a good week, finishing second overall, two points ahead of Andrew Norton’s J/100 Tiderace.
Cruiser Division C was won by Will Symth’s Westerly Fulmar Panda of Hamble, ahead of Andrew and Rebecca Buchanan’s Mustang 30 Haggis 2 and Simon and Julia Bowes’ Sun Fast 37 Chatterbox.
A newcomer to Cowes Week, Jarkko Havas’ Super Seal 26 Jalo 1, won Cruiser Division D, a performance that also saw Havas take victory in the Newcomers’ Trophy. Peter Dickson and Andrew Yates’ First 25.7 Star-Born 4 was second in Cruiser D, while Ian Cooke’s Hunter Media 20 Tudor Rose took third overall.
By the time the starting sequence for the Black Group yachts was completed the first White Group dayboats were already finishing on the Breakwater line, a quarter of a mile to the east.
Another win today for Paul Ward’s J/70 Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat, more than five minutes ahead of Stephen O’Driscoll’s RTYC 5, sealed Ward’s overall class victory. With Victor Migraine’s Ohlala! not competing today, he fell out of the overall podium results, allowing Katie Davies’ Aurora to take second overall, ahead of RTYC 5 in third place.
Oliver Hill’s H2 Sailing Team took a further victory today in the SB20 fleet, to win the class’s Mini Slam ahead of Radley College’s Trouble and Strife. Hill’s crew also won the Antigua Sailing Week Under 25 Trophy.
Tom Abrey’s Jolly Roger sailed a very consistent series to take an overall win in the Etchellsclass, nine points ahead of Rob Goddard’s Rocketman, with Goddard being forced to count an 11th place picked up on Tuesday’s race. A fourth today was sufficient to keep Shaun and Emily Frolich’s Exabyte on the podium, three points ahead of Kyle Comerford’s young team on Ziggy.
An upset yesterday in the Daring class saw the overall leaderboard shuffled. After a run of unbroken race wins Giles Peckham’s Dauntless was scored OCS, having started prematurely, and had to count 17 points. He was back on winning form today, but Jeremy Preston’s Defenderwas assured of an overall win if he sailed a cautious race. A fourth place was ample to secure his victory, 10 points ahead of Peckham, while Richard Ottaway’s Division Belle took third overall, just two points adrift.
The Sportsboat class started the day with only three points separating the top four boats. First place in today’s race saw Malcolm Thorpe’s J/80 King Louie take the overall win on 13 points, ahead of James Flynn’s Cork 1720 Crescendo on 14 points and Rob Mclean’s modified 1720 Spider Pig on 16 points.
In the Dragon fleet a win today – their fourth of the regatta – for Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimeesealed overall victory with a total score of only 7 points. Eric Williams’ Ecstatic took second with 13 points and Simon Barter’s Bertie third on 16 points.
The RS Elite fleet is renowned for consistently close racing. Three first places, a second and a third saw Paul Fisk’s Legs Eleven take first overall. However, three boats started the day in close contention for the runner up spot. A second place today for Peter Copsey’s The Doctor, and third for Jamie Berry and Robert Holbrook’s The Centurion saw the two finish the series on equal points. The tie break was resolved in Holbrook’s favour thanks to his win on Thursday.
While the Sunbeam fleet was smaller than usual, competition at the head of the fleet was still very tight, with four boats having a mathematical chance of an overall win at the start of the final race in the series. A win for Julian Hawe’s Melody elevated him to first overall, one point ahead of Stewart Reed’s Firefly. Gayle Palmer’s Little Lady and Jonathan Money’s Penny finished the series tied on 16 points, with Money taking third overall on countback.
Alistair Barter’s Sonar Bertie dominated the class all week, finishing with a count of six points from five races. The Andrew Cassell Foundation’s Limbitless, skippered by Matt Grier, took second overall on 12 points, but there was a three way fight for third overall. Rob Pearce’s Fiscaland David Peerless’ Discovery both finished the week on 24 points, with the tie break going in Peerless’s favour.
18 year old Will Heritage dominated the Flying 15 class in Freddie Flintoff, and led the Musto Young Skipper’s Trophy, until breaking his mast in yesterday’s strong winds. This left Steve Stewart’s Ffast Lady, which sailed a very consistent series (3, 2, 2, 1, 1) to take first overall in the class 11 points ahead of Sam Chan’s Freefire 20. Chan is a regular competitor in the class at Cowes Week, as a visitor from Hong Kong where he owns a TP52. Heritage and Peter and Stephen Card’s Crews Missile tied on points, with the young sailor taking third overall on countback.
The Mermaid fleet enjoyed very close racing throughout the regatta, with five boats in contention for an overall win at the beginning of today. A first place for Hugo Mills’ Sheen raised him from fourth to first overall, one point ahead of Kate Broxham’s Adastra and John Sandisfoot Haigh’s Halluf. The tie break for second went in Halluf’s favour, thanks to her second place today.
The head of the Victory class has seen a close tussle all week between Geoff Dixon’s Zelia and John Scammell’s Zinnia. However, the latter started prematurely today – a costly mistake given the class has not sailed enough races for a discard. A win for Zelia sealed her overall victory, ahead of Gareth Penn’s Christina, while a disappointing seventh place for Duncan Evans Peregrine was still enough to lift her onto the podium, two points ahead of Zinnia.
A fourth win today in the Squib fleet saw Alex and Mark Downer’s Panther 3 seal an overall win with a score of 13 points. It also secured victory for Alex in the Musto Young Skipper’s Trophy. David Lloyd’s Lucky Number took second overall, ahead of the Gibson brothers’ Wizard.
Simon Russell’s Swallow dominated the early stages of competition in the XOD class, winning on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. He then picked up a third and 10th place in the two races the following day (one of which was the re-sailed first race of the series). Even so, he won this hotly-contested class with a day to spare. A win in today’s race for John Tremlett’s Lass, ahead of Roger Yeoman’s Xcitation and Cordelia Ellis’s Myrtle, sealed Tremlett’s second place overall. Paul Woodman’s Ibex took third, four points behind Lass.
A low cloud base forced the cancellation of the RAF Typhoon display scheduled for this evening, but the fireworks, sponsored by Red Funnel as a celebration of the ferry company’s 50-year-old Hi-Speed service, will go ahead as planned.
Although the series points have now been concluded, racing concludes tomorrow with Cowes Town Regatta.