On day seven of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, racing concluded for four White Group dayboat classes – SB20, J/80, RS Elite and Victory. The first leg was a tight spinnaker reach for most classes, with the most enthusiastic competitors hoisting as early as possible. However, only the best sailors were able to get them filling in the disturbed air on the start line and for some it was initially more of a hindrance than a benefit.
The SB20 was one of few classes where the bulk of the fleet had spinnakers drawing well from the outset. Tim Newton’s Polarbear notched up her first win of the week, 19 seconds ahead of Iain May’s Space Docker. Jerry Hill’s sportsboatworld.com was able to discard today’s fourth place, to take the overall title by just one point from Space Docker, and Polarbear took third overall.
An individual recall on the J/80 start saw the Stuart, Evans and Simonds syndicate’s Aqua-J return to restart. It was only when the X-flag remained up that William Goldsmith’s young crew on Exess, contenders for the Under 25 Trophy, and lying second overall in the class, realised they also needed to drop the spinnaker and return.
Goldsmith’s crew did well to recover their big deficit, finishing third behind Simon Ling’s RAFBF Spitfire and Jamie Diamond’s Rascal. Ling won the class overall, counting only first places, with Goldsmith second, and a fourth place today was enough to secure third overall for Geoffrey Payne’s Surf and Turf by a two-point margin.
In the RS Elite class, Martin Wadham’s Kiss and Crauford McKeon’s Kandoo lll started today two points apart at the head of the overall leader board. At the start Kiss was the first boat to hoist a spinnaker, just before the gun, but it was slow to fill and she lagged behind the leading pack. Nevertherless, Wadhams finished second, 15 seconds ahead of Jono Brown’s Aeolus, but with Crauford winning today and now able to discard a sixth place, he won overall by two points, with Wadhams second and Brown third.
In the Victory class, Hugh Pringle, Philippa Pringle and Paul Maidment’s Pelican and John Scammell’s Zephyr hit the line at speed with their spinnakers filling perfectly, but were moments early and, while Zephyr responded to the recall, Pelican did not.
Otherwise, overall class leader Mark Dennington’s Ziva and Gareth Penn’s Zircon were best placed in the fleet, starting mid line, with Ziva slowly pulling away. The two boats that started the day in second and third overall – Kim and Sally Taylor’s Zest and Geoff and Sarah Dixon, Maxine Reeves and Hugh Winter’s Zelia – started at the outer end of the line, well back from the leaders, although still ahead of the straggling back markers.
Ziva finished first, taking her fifth win of the week and the overall class title. Janet Dee and Shaun Hopkins’s Variety crossed the line just 15 seconds later, with Russell Mead’s Shearwater taking third. Zelia and Zest took second and third overall respectively.
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The contest at the top of the XOD class is becoming increasingly close. Unlike the rest of the White Group fleets, today the class started to the west, with the strengthening tide sweeping them rapidly towards the line. At the start of their penultimate race, although Steve Lawrence’s Catherine enjoyed a slim three-point lead at the head of the fleet, all three podium positions remained open.
Yesterday’s winner, Jeremy Lear, John Tremlett, Richard Bullock and Richard Jord’s Lass, was among the boats called over the line by the spotters on the RYS platform a couple of seconds before the gun and had to take a time penalty.
Kim Slater, Robert Bedford and Paul Chapman’s Madeline emerged from the start in the best position, with Andy Shaw’s Phoenix (third overall at the start of the day) nearby and also in the top three boats. However, Catherine and Stuart Jardine’s Lone Star looked to be more buried in the fleet, as was Lass.
After rounding the first windward mark, Gurnard Ledge, the fleet had a cross-tide spinnaker leg to Raymarine buoy, close to the Beaulieu River. This split the fleet, with a number of the leaders allowing themselves to be swept downtide and downwind of the direct line between the marks, losing around 150 metres. This allowed Catherine to take the lead at the start of the long run against the tide to East Bramble, ahead of Alastair and Jackie Ashford and Richard Neall’s Foxglove, Tom Vernon’s Silhouette and Phoenix.
Catherine was still ahead at the finish, but had also a time penalty that dropped her to 18th. Next across the line was Willy McNeill and Ted Tredrea’s Lara, followed four seconds later by Madeline and then Phoenix. When Lass’s penalty was applied she dropped to 35th in today’s race, a result she can discard.
This leaves four boats separated by only seven points at the top of the leader board going into the final race tomorrow: Phoenix (18 points) Catherine (20), Lass (23) and Lone Star (25). Any of these could win overall tomorrow – the race is certain to be an intense one.
Although a handful of winners had emerged yesterday, today was the last day of racing for the overall prizes for Black Group classes. Jonathan Calascione and Jonny Goodwin’s Harlequin had already secured an overall win in the J/109 class, but was out again today, notching up an impressive sixth win to take overall victory in Black Group. Grant Gordon’s J/97 Fever Glenfiddich won IRC Class 5 again to take second in Black Group, while Calvin Reed’s Elandra scored a seventh straight win in the First 40.7 class to take third in the Group.
Today the Quarter Ton class saw a reversal of fortunes, with James Morland’s Menace taking first place on corrected time, ahead of Penny Fulford and John Welch’s Phoenix. A third today for Louise Morton’s Espada saw her win the class overall by five points.
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It was not a great day for the two boats contesting second place overall: Olly Ophaus’ Cote, was able to discard today’s sixth place, but Lincoln Redding, Led Pritchard and Cat Southworth’s Whiskers had to count fifth, leaving them tied on points, with the advantage going to Whiskers on countback.
John Cruickshank’s Dehler 47 Nimrod of Dartmouth won today’s IRC Class 1 race, with Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 40 Peninsula Signal 8 second and Nigel Passmore’s Ker 40 Apollo 5 second and third. Willem Wester’s Grand Soleil 46 Antilope had to count today’s fifth place, but remains overall winner with 13 points. Today’s second place for Peninsula Signal 8 failed by one point to leap-frog her ahead of Michael Bartholomew’s King 40 Tokoloshe, who retained second overall.
Class IRC 2 started the day with the two overall leaders – Stevie Cowie’s First 40 Zephyr and Andrew Sinclair’s Grand Soleil 43 Trustmarque Quokka – tied on points. A win today for Zephyr sees her take the overall win by one point from Trustmarque Quokka. Andrew McIrvine’s First 40 La Reponse had to take a time penalty in today’s race, but hung on to third place overall.
The standings in IRC Class 4 were also close going into the final race, with David Franks’ JPK 1010 Strait Dealer holding a two-point advantage over both Peter Scholfield’s HOD35 Zarafa and John Howell’s Dehler 36 Alaris. Strait Dealer took line honours, almost two minutes ahead of Malcolm Struth’s Prism 28 Thrust, and won on corrected time to take the overall title. Suffering from a slow start, Zarafa had to count her fifth place today, but Alaris was able to discard her sixth, leaving the pair both on 18 points, with the tie break for second place resolved in Zarafa’s favour.
A win in IRC Class 6 for Rory Fitzwilliams’ Three-Quarter Tonner Simplicity just failed to elevate her to second overall, but third place today was sufficient for Ian Brahm’s MG346 Enigma to take the overall title. Matt Hardy’s J/24 Sublime Yacht Charters took third overall. In IRC Class 7, a win for Madelaine and Isobella Donald’s Nordic Folkboat Madelaine today elevated her to second overall, one point ahead of Paul Dunstan’s International Folkboat Mandarin. 1984 Olympic bronze medallist Jo Richard’s H Boat Woof posted fourth place but retained the overall lead.
In ISCRS Division A James Stableford’s Mumm 36 Panther won a fourth race today, taking the overall class win from Janet, Lionel and David Miller’s Swan 44 White Heather by three points. Ole Bettum’s J/100 Alamara B ll took third overall with 17 points.
ISCRS Division B started the day with a three-way tie for first overall between Brian Cooper’s First 375 Little Spirit, Martin Layng’s Smokey 25 Newcastle University, and Paul Wells’ Contessa 26 Tessa. However after today’s race Heleen Wester’s Grand Soleil 343 Gazelle was able to discard a disqualification on Sunday and a fifth victory saw her take the overall win, with Little Spirit second, Newcastle University third and Tessa fourth.
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In the Multihull class Phil Cotton’s Sea Cart 30 Buzz didn’t race today, having already sealed an overall win. However the battle for third place could not have been closer. Nigel Talbot’s Dash 750 Nitric notched up his first win on corrected time, by just six seconds from Soren Pehrsson’s 750 Sprint Maran. John Beech’s Dragonfly 920 Humdinger did not have such as good day, posting a fourth. With both Beech and Talbot on 15 points at the end of the series, and each having one win, the tie break was resolved in favour of Beech, as he has a greater number of second places.
Festivities gathered pace when racing finished in anticipation of the Friday night fireworks display, with 13 members of Skandia Team GBR, fresh from competing in the Olympic sailing regatta in Weymouth, joining the party.
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