Cowes Week XOD fleet cope with windy weather

XOD start line - Cowes Week 2011
At Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, the XOD fleet are coping with windy, rough weather. 'XODs can cope with tough conditions, but today was definitely the top end of the scale for the preservation of XOD sailors.' This was one competitor’s comment as he came off the water after a windy and rough today.

For some it was the conditions they relish. 'Our boat goes well in a blow,' said Andrew Shaw, today’s winner, and winning is no mean feat when there are 128 other identical boats to beat, the number that crossed the start line today. Andrew and his crew, sailing X23 Phoenix, came third off the start line and managed to hold on to their domination, creeping into the lead at the second windward mark, and never looking back.

There were plenty of exciting moments during the race, particularly when a tanker and a container ship passed each other on the race course and the pilot boat had to divert a part of the fleet, forcing them to tack. Huge waves in wind against tide conditions on the beat across the north western Solent shore from Williams Shipping Buoy meant hanging on tight. 'Sailing the boat conservatively and a little free to keeping it moving was key here,' said David Priscott, sailing X101 Thora, who managed a creditable 21st position.

The weather took its toll on some of the fleet however, with 17 retirements and four DSQs from the 128 starters, but the challenging Solent did not put off 90 year old Tom Tait, who prancing effortlessly round the course to 64th.

As has been characteristic of such a big fleet there were plenty of position changes amongst the competitors, as illustrated by X180 Fearless which started ‘last’ according to their own description and ended up taking out 90 boats to end up in 37th place.

The class started on a specially set Committee boat line on the north eastern side of the Solent mainland and raced over a mid-Solent course to come from West Ryde Middle to the finish line off the Shrape at East Cowes.

Today’s race is the second of a three day ‘regatta within the regatta’, that the class is holding to celebrate the fact that 100 years ago this year an XOD fleet held their first race. This mid-event Aberdeen Asset Management XOD Class Centenary Regatta will ultimately be recognised by HRH Princess Royal when she visits the Royal Yacht Squadron platform to fire the gun to start the XOD race tomorrow, Thursday.

Andrew Shaw and his Pheonix crew carried off the Steele-Pitcher Salver, the winner’s trophy of the day.

Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week website