Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week has now completed its sixth day of racing which took place amid big winds that powered the biggest yachts to blistering speeds approaching thirty knots. Most dayboat classes were set short courses that ensured they had finished racing before gusts to thirty eight knots were encountered in the afternoon.
'It was a really exciting day, with a couple of enormous knockdown gusts of 31-32 knots just before our start,' said Liz Rushall whose boat Whiskers took a second win of the week in the Quarter Ton class. 'We had a running start, but left the spinnaker in the bag. Even so, we hit 11.2 knots surfing in the easternSolent. It was a super course for the conditions, with lots of reaches that made it quite safe sailing given the wind strength.'
Pip Tyler’s J/105 Nielson Redeye was fifth, his team’s best result so far in IRC Class 4. 'We’ve had another really fantastic day,' he said after stepping ashore. 'We were cautious and didn’t use the spinnaker, but we still hit more than 16 knots. It was a perfect length of race and everyone had massive great grins on their faces as we flew down the big waves in the western Solent.'
Many sailors chose to stay ashore: no Sonars, Mermaids or Sunbeams elected to race, and only 15 of the 26 Redwings entered turned up for the start. Similarly only 24 of the 43-strong Laser SB3 fleet started, and seven of those retired before the end of the race. In all there were some 100 retirements.
Tim Eccles, part owner of the Mini Tonner Magic Bus in IRC Class 7, was one of those who stayed ashore: 'We broke a rudder pintle earlier in the week, then a spreader yesterday,' he said. 'Luckily the rig stayed up, and we’ve fixed the boat, but we want to keep it in one piece for the Mini Ton Cup.' Many crews of larger Black Group boats had a more immediate concern on their minds – keeping their craft intact for the 605-mile Rolex Fastnet Race that starts on Sunday.
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XODs’ big day: Despite the strong winds, 119 of the record 145 boats entered in the XOD class Centenary Regatta made the start line for their special Centenary Race Day, which was started on the Royal Yacht Squadron line by HRH The Princess Royal.
The RYS starting platform was packed to an unprecedented density and crowds massed ten deep on the waterfront, undeterred by the early morning rain.
Ado Jardine’s Lucrezia, Chris Froy, Andrew Shaw and Alan Roberts’ Phoenix, John Long and Tina Scott’s Relaxation, and Stuart Jardine’s Lone Star all had good starts, running downwind towards a mark laid off Lee onSolent on the mainland shore.
'Today we knew the majority of the fleet would want to start near the committee boat,' said Andy Shaw of Phoenix, 'but we reckoned any potential gains from starting there would be small and it was better to have clean air. We rounded the leeward mark in second place, just in front of a big pack of boats, and then pulled into first place on the beat.'
Phoenix finished 26 seconds in front of Simon Russell, Darren Maple and Richard Lovering’s Swallow, to take an impressive third win in this incredibly competitive class. Steve and Peter Lawrence and Paddy Smart’s Catherine took third, while the entire class enjoyed incredibly close racing today, with 53 seconds separating places seven to fourteen, and just seven seconds dividing 47 to 53.
In the Mixed Day Boat start, Tom Richardson’s 1720 Premier Cru was closest to the line at the gun, near to the outer end of the line. However, her lead on the water was short lived as Anthony Esse and Charlie Esse’s modified J/80 Wellington College flew past and soon pulled out a big lead. She retained this at the finish, to win the Modified J/80 class by almost five minutes from William Evans’ Royal 3 and Christopher Hill’s Spanko.
Premier Cru similarly held the lead in the 1720 class at the finish line, ahead of Livingstone, Brown, Lewis’ Rum n Cork, and Richard Powell and Andrew Sutherland’s Rogan Josh. The only Sonata to enter today, Michael Tennant’s Xantz retired, but Southampton UOTC’s Hunter 707 Officer Cadet, the sole entrant today, completed the course to take her second win of the regatta.
Black Group: The two Mini Maxis in the IRC Big Boat class – Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran and Andres Soriano’s Alegre – did not race today, even though Ran was in pole position to win the Abu Dhabi Trophy, having already notched up two wins in the three-race series.
George David’s giant Rambler 100 set off with one reef in the mainsail, while F Vaton’s Swan 100 Alalunga opted for a double reef at the start of their 50-mile race. Rambler shot round the course in less than three hours 25 minutes to take her first win and lift the trophy.
In Class IRC 3, Robin Lucas, Andrew Lax, Richard Heighton and Doug Pennycuick’s Swan 44 Bewick of Cowes attempted a port tack flyer at the inshore end of the line, but was forced to bear away behind the entire fleet. This left Bernard Olesinski’s X40 Xinska ahead of the pack closest to the inshore end of the line, followed by Woutjan Hermsen’s Ker 32 Luctor et Emergo ll. Gilles Caminade’s Archambault A35 Chenapan, was third off the line and first to tack onto port, followed by Xinska.
However, the day suited Mike Birmingham’s Corby34 Oxygen lll best – he was first boat home by an impressive 14 minutes, winning easily on corrected time from the Layfield Family’s J/39 Sleeper. Lars Huechstaedt’s Corby 35 Heizkorper Sailing Team took third.
After the start of IRC Class 4 Peter Scholfield’s HOD 35 Zarafa made an early port tack towards the north shore, clearing ahead of the entire fleet apart from one of the X-362s. Within three minutes of the start all leaders had tacked onto port, although Robert Martin’s Kratos and Johan Bol’s Stern 33 A Boen were significantly closer to the Island shore than the rest of the leading pack.
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Zarafa took both line honours and the win on corrected time, the latter with a margin of just 52 seconds from Tom Snowball’s First 34.7 Mongoose, who retained the overall lead in the class. Another HOD 35, James Neville’s White Knight of Wessex, was third.
The Sigma 38s made a mostly cautious start, allowing Max Walker’s Pavlova lll and Kevin Sussmilch’s Mefisto to flip immediately onto port tack ahead of the fleet. With Mefisto in the advantageous lee bow position she pulled into an early lead. Around 10 minutes into the race Chris and Vanessa Choules’ With Alacrity pulled further to windward of this pack, the fleet heeling dramatically as formidable gusts off the Beaulieu River whipped spray off the wave tops. At the end of the two-hour race Mefisto took her fifth win of the week, ahead of Pavlova lll and John Edwards’ Red Macaw.
Extreme Sailing Series at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week With the main Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week racing having finished early and the Extreme Sailing Series postponed to allow the wind to drop, huge crowds of competitors made their way to at Egypt Point to witness the fast-paced action in the Extreme 40s
As crews came ashore at the end of day six, the overall standings were as follows:
1 The Wave Muscat- 134 points
2 Luna Rossa - 121 points
3 Alinghi - 114 points
4 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild - 109 points
5 Red Bull Extreme Sailing - 98 points
6OmanAir - 95 points
7 Team GAC Pindar - 93 points
8 Niceforyou - 76 points
9 Emirates Team NewZealand- 69 points
10 AberdeenAsset Management - 68 points
11 Team Extreme - 51 points
12 Artemis Racing - 23 points
Extreme Sailing Series, Act 5 Cowes website
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week website