At Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, dramatic changes in the XOD positions have ensued after fluky winds arose. 'Well, someone had to win,' commented co-owner of X169 Perdix David Humphreys, somewhat modestly after beating 138 other XODs on the third day of racing for the 100 year old class.
His comment did, however, sum up the nature of the conditions which saw Stuart Jardine and crew on X 119 Lone Star start five boats from the back of the fleet and claw their way 84 places back to a well-recovered 54th.
A gentler breeze than the event has seen so far – around twelve knots from the NW - meant a lot less dramas for the XODs on the Royal Yacht Squadron start line, viewed by hundreds of onlookers drawn by the spectacle of so many identical boats on one line. However the conditions gradually become lighter and more shifty through the day, turning the race into a lottery for many, and disappointment for some, including Ben Paton, on X48 XL, who saw the lead he held for a while evaporate at the final mark, forcing him to settle for second place.
Others such as Chris Blevins, sailing X101 Thora was last around the first mark but ended up 75th, nearly half way up the fleet. 'We managed to be in a few of the right places that weren’t looking favourable but conditions changed and ended up putting us ahead,' he explained.
Success would normally be determined by a good start in this fleet, but not on this occasion, as early front runners X47 Vanity (Tim Harding) and X164 Diana (Eric Williams) demonstrated. They accelerated rapidly away from the start line to the west in a group of some 10 yachts, while the back half of the fleet struggled to find a way through the mass of boats stacked up behind, waiting their turn to cross the line, a bit more like the London Marathon than a sailing start line. Yet in today’s conditions Vanity ended up 68th while Diana was 37th.
Today’s race marks the start 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 on Thursday.
David Humphreys and his co-owner Michael Shaw’s ‘chance win’ meant that they carried off the Harold Hayles Bowl, the winner’s trophy of the day.
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week website