There was no easing into the swing of things at Cowes Week for the RS Elite fleet! Day one saw a downwind start with the breeze gusting over 20 knots and building. At the first mark, four boats were virtually abreast with Jono Brown in Aeolus getting inside with Crauford McKeon in Kandoo III second and Iain MacDonald Smith in Freebie third.
A short beat was followed by a four mile run with the breeze now blasting and sportsboat fleets wiping out in every direction plus, sadly, a fair number of broken rigs on various dayboats. Martin Wadhams team in Kiss took off and sailed through to the lead, with Aeolus breaking a pole end half way down the leg to lose the use of their kite for the rest of the day.
Kiss lead on the second short beat narrowly from Kandoo III but Kandoo was into the lead at the next top mark. Positions swapped again on the next run with Kiss screaming through and opening up a handy gap ready for the six mile beat to the finish into wind-over tide waves and big gusts.
Kandoo's power was too much and after covering for a third of the beat Kiss was forced to tack away by a boat in another class and Kandoo pounced. There was no stopping them and Kiss tried a flyer splitting inshore, which failed miserably.
So, at the finish, Kandoo III won with Kiss second and Freebie hung on in a three boat tussle for third, ahead of Mike Tong in Ciao Bella and Simon Cavey in Livez.
Less wind is forecast for Sunday and many boats will be breathing a sigh of relief! After The Cowes Race the Crewsaver Stadium Cup kicks off at 6.00, just off the Green. So another full-on day anyway.
Day 2 and 3.
There have been some full-on battles in the RS Elite fleet over the last two days. On Sunday Livez was fastest out of the blocks and looking very flash half way up the first beat, but in the end Kandoo III, Livez and Kiss all arrived at the top mark together and the scene for the rest of the race was set. Kiss lead around the second mark but was caught upwind by both the others and the lead swapped several times before Kandoo got away to take their second bullet.
Aeolus gained massively on the final beat to the finish to nearly steal second from Kiss. But Kiss swapped at the last minute from covering Livez and held on for second place, while Livez frustratingly dropped from second to fourth on a snakes and ladders leg.
Race three on Monday was sailed in generally slightly less breeze, with a fetch to the first mark. Kandoo somehow escaped from the favoured end of the line on port and led from Limelight with Kiss piling in fast from higher up. Kiss rounded inside and overlapped with Kandoo and these two boats sailed a three hour race virtually never more than two boat lengths apart, often bantering with each other. The lead swapped several times but Kiss lead around the last bottom mark and covered Kandoo through a tacking duel to the finish. Aeolus felt robbed when GPS failure meant they over stood a mark and threw away a comfortable third position to drop behind the pack. They did, however fight back to fourth behind Limelight in third.
Frustration of the Week lies with E'Tu who's instruments have failed and are resisting all attempts at resuscitation - this presents a big hurdle here on Cowes obstacle courses. It's great to see several new faces to Cowes Week in our Class, including John Patterson in Momentary Laps from Ireland who today pushed their tide-cheating luck so far they were three sail reaching along a lee shore with about 2cm under the keel. They seemed oblivious while the rest of us were heart in mouth on their behalf!
Racing this close is dramatic and tiring, but says a lot about the RS Elite class. The forecast is for lighter winds on Tuesday before blowing the doors off on Wednesday. Right now that looks like a sure fire shopping day. With ever more trendy sailing gear shops in Cowes, this could be more expensive than a 35 knot race...
Overall results after day three:
Elite Last update: Tue Aug 14 20:50
Cowes Week website