Cowes Week 2021 delivered a mix of interesting and exciting racing, with up to 40 races per day across 30 classes.
Giles Peckham’s Daring Dauntless won the regatta overall for a record fourth time, having notched up five race wins and one second place. “It’s been a very classic Cowes Week, with light and strong winds, everything in between and challenging decision making,” says Peckham.
He was sailing with his wife Jane and co-owner Richard Romer-Lee. Milo Carver the fourth member of Peckham’s usual team couldn’t make it because of travel restrictions, so Mark Harrison and Richard Acland stepped in on different days. “They all did a tremendous job in keeping us at the front,” says Peckham. “We love the team work on board – everyone has their eyes out of the boat and we all contribute to tactics.
“We also recognise the huge amount of effort the Cowes Week organising committee and the hundreds of volunteers have put into making this event happen over the last two years. They have demonstrated flexibility, innovation and have given us a fantastic week.”
Although Peckham dominated the front of Daring class, competition was much closer mid fleet. Five boats, for instance, finished the regatta separated by only five points.
Jo Richards’ H-Boat Woof, racing in IRC Class 7, was crowned as overall winner of Black Group. It’s his second overall Black Group win, having done so more than a decade ago sailing a modified 1720 called Full Pelt.
“We’re a bunch of people who have sailed together for many years and also enjoy being sociable,” he says. “This year after racing it has felt more like Cowes Weeks of old and more geared to the needs of sailors – I like that.”
Peter Morton’s GP42 The Jean Genie also had a successful regatta, with victory in IRC Class 0. He also won two of Cowes Week’s most prestigious and historic trophies – the Britannia Cup and the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup.
“Despite the challenges of this very unusual year, we’ve had a brilliant week’s racing,” says Regatta Director Laurence Mead. “I think everyone has had some great times on the water and being able to see old friends again made it just like the old days. Huge thanks to the many volunteers from our nine constituent Cowes Combined Clubs and to the competitors for joining us. We will start working on the 2022 event on Monday.”
The Cuvée 450 Solent Team Trophy is a new prize this year for clubs entering teams of three boats. The Royal London YC’s team of two Darings, Giles Peckham’s Dauntless and Sir Richard Ottaway’s Debutante, plus Peter Dickson’s First 25.7 Star-Born 4 in Performance Cruiser Division C, established a clear lead by mid-week that was never challenged. The Royal Corinthian YC of Burnham on Crouch took second place, with a team consisting of two Squibs and Christopher Agar’s Half Tonner Secrets.
Marian Kenna, racing the Morris M36 Chameleon of Cowes in the Club Cruiser class won the Ariel Trophy for Best Female Helm, ahead of Louise Morton’s Quarter Tonner Bullet. Morton picked up the trophy for the best all-female crew.
The Musto Young Skipper’s Trophy goes to Alain Waha and Matthew Waite’s Go West Cogitalin the HP30 class. Kai Hockley, racing the Scaramouche Sailing Trust’s Quarter Tonner Cote, was runner up.
Alastair Bolton, sailing the Sonata BD2 in IRC Class 7, won the Under 25 Trophy, while third place overall in the very competitive IRC Class 2 earned John Cooper’s J/112E Jooped the Newcomers’ Trophy, ahead of Lulu Wallis’s Albin Express Expressly Forbidden.
Three classes – HP30, J/109 and Performance Cruiser C – finished the week with the leaders tied on 8 points. Glyn Locke’s Toucan prevailed in the tiebreak for the HP30 fleet, while Ross Walker’s Brown Teal won the J/109 class and Peter Hops’ Sigma 38 Sam took overall victory in Performance Cruiser C.
In the XOD fleet, 10 boats scored at least one podium result and racing was typically close and tactical, with places 5 to 10, for instance, decided by only four points. Roger Yeoman, Mike Moss and Chris McLaughlin’s Xcitation took a decisive victory in the opening race, two and a half minutes ahead of an otherwise tight race. However, they were not able to maintain consistency and fell to fourth overall at the end of the regatta.
Fraser Graham and Tim Copsey’s Astralita won the second race, following this with victory in the final two, winning the class by four points. Paul Woodman, Ollie James and Phil Lawrence’s Lone Star sailed an impressively consistent series to take second overall, counting two second places, a third and a fourth. There was therefore a bigger gap to Penelope Fulford’s Madeleine, who finished third overall on 23 points.
Cowes Week Highlights
Other classes with very tight racing include IRC Class 2, where Adam Gosling’s JPK1080 Yes! had a close battle with two J/112Es – David Franks’ Leon and John Cooper’s Jooped. Third place in the final race for Leon was enough to win the series one point ahead of both Yes! and Jooped, who were tied on 12 points.
Toby Gorman’s Sigma 33 Stan the Boat won IRC Class 6 ahead of the Handley and James families’ Mustang 30 Banter, and Kevin Downer’s Jeanneau Fun 23 Ziggy. This class also saw extremely close competition mid-fleet, where six boats finished the series only four points apart.
The new Cape 31 class delivered five different winners across six races and all but two boats scored at least one podium result. Russell Peters’ Squirt became more consistent as the regatta progressed, scoring 1, 2, 1 in the final three races. Peters won overall three points ahead of Lance Adam’s Katabatic, with Roger Bowden’s Nifty five points adrift in third.
In contrast to the ultra-modern design of the Cape 31s, a traditionally built wooden boat won the Dragon class for the first time in decades. Bluebottle, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s former boat, raced for the first time in 60 years after a comprehensive restoration by Cowes boat builder David Heritage.
Raced this week by Graham and Julia Bailey, with Heritage also on board, Bluebottle won her first three races, discarded fourth on Tuesday, then finished with a pair of second places to win the class with a day to spare. Eric Williams’ Ecstatic took second overall, two points ahead of Gavia Wilkinson-Cox’s Jerboa.
In the Etchells fleet, Nick Stagg’s China White started with a fifth place, but followed it with an impressive unbroken string of firsts and seconds to end the week 9.5 points ahead of Rob Goddard’s Rocketman.
Cowes Week 2022 will take place from July 30-August 6. www.cowesweek.co.uk
Report by Rupert Holmes
Images by Paul Wyeth – pwpictures.com