At Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, day three was one of windshifts, gusts and lulls in a mostly south-westerly breeze that averaged 8-10 knots, until a stronger west-southwesterly that reached 18 knots, became established mid-afternoon. While there was plenty of sun, particularly later in the day, the early light airs caused the first start, for the Victory class in honour of its 80th anniversary, to be postponed.
The postponement signal was removed four minutes after a more consistent breeze sprang up at 1120, although even then, there was a lull in the couple of minutes before the start that saw a number of boats struggle to get up to the line. At the gun, John Scammell’s Zinnia was best placed of the boats at the inshore end of the line, with Liz Ballard’s Unity catching up quickly in a gust, while Team Terry’s Minx, Brian Clarke’s Zephyr and Gareth Penn’s Zircon were further offshore in more breeze.
At the finish, however, it was Janet Dee and Shaun Hopkins’ Variety that led the fleet, 94 seconds ahead of Jim Downing’s Ziva, while Zinnia followed just eight seconds behind in third.
In the Swallow class, Lisa McDanell, Arthur Henderson and Hugo Sloper’s Cockersootie led into the line closest to the shore, but Malcolm Green’s Archon had a better start just to windward. Further offshore Harry and Prue Roome’s Skua was also well placed, in a stronger breeze but more adverse tide, and soon pulled away into an early lead. Clive Bush’s Spectre moved up to second place five minutes into the race, slowly closing the gap on Skua, as the fleet short-tacked along the shore to the west of Cowes. However, Skua retained a commanding lead at the finish, ahead of Archon, with Sceptre taking third place.
This week the Flying 15 class has a larger entry than in recent years, although three of the top boats didn’t compete today, leaving the way open for some new names at the top of the fleet. John Hanson’s Hakuna Kutoa Katika had a good start towards the inshore end of the line, crossing ahead of the fleet when she tacked offshore, while the oldest boat in the class by more than 2,000 sail numbers, John Corby’s Fflipineck, was also well placed on the line.
Hanson retained the lead in a tight finish that saw 40 per cent of the fleet cross the line in just 57 seconds. Chris Wright’s Ffloy followed in second place, Mike Boll and Gil McCutcheon’s Ffuraha third, and Sam Chan and Nick Atkinson’s Ffreefire 20 fourth.
Given the delays for the White Group classes starting on the RYS line, early finishers in the Black Group yachts were given shortened courses to avoid interfering with the starting sequence for the smaller boats. However, not all complied with this and the first Black Group boats began sailing through the RYS line a couple of minutes before the start of the Squib’s race. The Squib fleet was close to the line, despite the adverse tide holding them back, with lots of boats bearing hard away in the last few seconds before the start.
Peter Eddis’ Scarab 2 was the first boat to tack near the beach, while Sarah Everitt and Steve Warren-Smith’s Aquabat also tacked early further offshore. However, it was Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey’s Lady Penelope, last year’s overall Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week winners, that took an early lead.
Five minutes into the race Gina and Alex Porteous’ Firecracker Too pulled ahead into second place ahead of Aquabat, with all the boats at the head of the fleet remaining very close at this stage. Hutchins and Ramsey retained the lead at the finish, with Aquabat second and Duncan Grindley and Dave Ross third in Surprise, the latter having climbed up through the fleet after an average start.
By the time of the start for the 80-strong XOD class there were enough Black Group finishers in the starting area that it was prudent to postpone the start. Four cannons then boomed out from the Royal Yacht Squadron, indicating a change to an accelerated start sequence for the XODs and the race start got away a little more than 10 minutes later.
With 30 seconds to go there was a large group of boats on the wrong side of the line, bearing away sharply to allow the tide to carry them back so they could start correctly. At the gun there were still boats over, but not enough for Principal Race Officer Peter Taylor to call a general recall. Only one boat – Mike Till’s Xenia – responded to the individual recall and returned to start correctly, leaving a total of 18 to be scored OCS.
Having started roughly one-third of the way out from the shore, Paul Woodman and Oliver James’ Ibex, and Paul Kelsey and David Bedford’s Anitra, were both doing well shortly after the start, with the lead passing between the two boats as they short tacked towards Egypt Point. Ibex was first across the finish, but she had been one of the premature starters, leaving David Palmer’s Princess Jalina to take the winner’s gun 27 seconds later. Anitra was third boat across the line, but had also been early, leaving John Tremlett and Jeremy Lear’s Lass to take second and Nik Froud’s Venus in third.
By the time of the J/80 start at 12:15 a more consistent breeze was filling in across the White Group starting area.
The larger yachts starting further offshore on the Bramble line got away on schedule in a predominately more consistent breeze than the smaller dayboats experienced close inshore. Entries in the Cruiser classes racing under the Island Sailing Club Rating System have been growing over the past few years and now account for 54 entries. Immediately after the start for the larger boats in Cruiser Division A Mark Devereux’s Swan 42 Brevity, with some 18 crew on board, tacked away at the committee boat end of the line to lead the fleet away towards the north shore. There was also a good start for Ole Bettum’s J/100 Alamara B ll.
Brevity, the fastest rated boat in the fleet by a large margin, crossed the line first and saved her time to win on handicap. The two J/100s took second and third places, with Julian James’s Thunder Squall gaining a six-minute advantage on Alamara B ll.
In Cruiser Division B local boat Ian Miller’s Jeanneau Sun Fast 32 Dabra finished with a clear lead to win the class by almost seven minutes on corrected time. Tony Mace’s Carter 39 Saphir was third across the line, but failed to save her time on Guy O'Beirne’s MGC27 Magician, which took second on corrected time 39-seconds ahead of Saphir.
The first boat across the line in IRC Class 6 was Simon Cory’s Cory 290 Icom Cool Blue. However, it was the lowest-rated boat in the class, Jo Richards’ H-Boat Woof, that won on corrected time to take a second successive victory, while Giovanni Belgrano’s immaculately restored 75-year-old Laurent Giles-designed Whooper took second on corrected time. Cory was able to save his time on the rest of the fleet to retain third place today and maintain his clean sweep of podium finishes.
Racing is scheduled to commence at 1025 tomorrow morning, with the weather predicted to start bright, with a light to moderate south to south-southwest breeze ranging from 6–12 knots. Event website