Day four of this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week saw a change in the weather, with blazing sun but a long postponement while competitors waited in vain for a sea breeze to fill in.
An indefinite postponement was lifted at 1130, when the signals for a building south-westerly sea breeze were looking good. There was plenty of cloud building over the mainland and in the central Solent the overnight north-north-westerly airflow had already swung to the south, although there was just a few knots of wind speed at this stage. Close to the Island shore there was more breeze, but with a strong easterly component to the direction that was unlikely to last long before being replaced once the main afternoon sea breeze became established.
At 1330, with the fitful sea breeze still in the south-east along most of the south coast of theUKoutside the Solent, race officials began making preparations to send fleets to the easternSolent. However, with the west-going ebb tide now in full flow the and the mean wind speed frequently failing to climb above five knots, even in mid Solent, there was still not enough breeze for even the fastest White Group dayboats to make progress upwind against the tide on the start line. This was clearly illustrated by three J/70s that spent several minutes tacking back and forth in front of the Royal Yacht Squadron, without ever progressing towards the east against the tide.
With time running out to get the large number of starts away, it was with much regret that race officials had to make the disappointing, but unavoidable, decision to abandon racing for all classes at 1400, the latest feasible time to begin the start sequence.
Today marked the end of the 'regatta within a regatta' for the SB20 and J/70 classes, both of which had two races per day over the first four days – the first time this format has ever been offered at Cowes Week.
The J/70 class saw close racing throughout the fleet – for instance in Sunday’s first race 60 per cent of the fleet crossed the finish line in an 83 second period. However, it wasn’t long before a clear winner started to emerge and at the end of the series Ruairidh Scott’s North Sails counted four first places and a second to win overall, two points ahead of Malcolm Jaques, Tristan Jaques, Naomi Rowbotham and Nix Brook’s Django.
By contrast, the overall winner of the SB20 series had to be determined on count back as Joe Llewellyn’s Henri Lloyd / Forell and Jerry Hill’s sportsboatworld.com were tied on points after allowing for a discard. With three wins against Llewellyn’s two, the title went to Hill, who also won the class at last year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.
'We had great, and at times, really challenging racing,' says Hill. 'The strong entry is testament to the success of the format, with entries from Russia, Holland, France and Ireland, as well as a good British contingent. The international competitors are raving about this event and seemed to enjoy it so much they are promising to return next year.
'On a personal note, it’s great to win because we were up against some tough competition and the event is proving to be the perfect warm up for the forthcoming world championship in Hyeres in September. Looking ahead to the rest of the week, yes, we’ll have a slightly reduced entry because some will be heading off home tonight, but I am really looking forward to some equally good, maybe slightly less intense, racing.'
Cowes Week website
by Rupert Holmes/CWL
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9:39 PM Tue 6 Aug 2013GMT
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