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Cowes Classics ready for action

by Cowes Classics Week 25 Jul 2019 08:14 PDT 27 July - 2 August 2019
1927 built gaffer Chough in action at Cowes Classics Week © Tim Jeffreys Photography

With just three days to go before the first race of Cowes Classics Week, tension is building amongst the fleets to speculate on the opposition they will be facing and the favourites to win. Entries officially close on 25th July although some later entries may be considered.

The first races kick off next Monday, 29th July when four committee boat race areas, and one fixed shore line just in front of the historic Royal London Yacht Club on the Parade at Cowes, will host the 130 or so yachts that are taking part.

The Royal London is welcoming entries from one design classes and one-offs whose classic designs which were drawn up 50 years ago or more. Despite their vintage lines, some are almost brand new, like Osprey in the Swallow class, built just last year and Solent Sunbeam Sky, built the year before. With new yachts coming into these tight one design classes, the competition can be expected to be formidable, yet these tried and tested classes originated in 1948 and 1923 respectively.

Amongst the fleets, which include not just the one designs, but cruisers, Folkboats, vintage Swans and plenty of others, are some truly historic craft. Andrew Hitt's Spinaway, a quirkily named Plymouth Hooker is the oldest competing yacht, built in 1889, but still extremely capable of getting around the race course. A regular to the event, Spinaway will have plenty of competition in a six strong gaffer class, competing against the likes of Bob Fisher's Rosenn, built in 1896, and Steve Meakin's Cormorant, built in 1911.

Expecting to enjoy some tight windward leeward courses in the Solent are classes including Squibs, Bembridge One Designs, XODs, Darings, Vintage Dragons, Solent Sunbeams, Swallows, and other classic keelboat designs.

Mike Fox, Captain of the Daring Class, anticipates the action on the water. "Cowes Classic Week has become a regular and much loved regatta in the Daring sailing year, both on and off the water," he says. "With predominantly windward leeward courses and well matched boats, the racing is always closely contested. Darings race for the Metre Regatta Trophy which has been won by four different boats in the past five years, reflecting the open nature of the class and event. Will 2019 see another new name on the trophy? The odds seem favourable!"

Mike sums up the week for every class, adding "Cowes Classic Week is more than just racing. Well organised events each evening provide ample opportunity to discuss the day's events, review what might have been and enjoy the company of other classes all of whom have a common interest in classic sailing craft."

The benchmark yacht to watch out for next week is Lawrence Wride's Sunmaid V, which carried off the ultimate trophy of the week, the historic 1792 Cup last year. When Lawrence summed up the week for his 1967 One Tonner last year he stated that "Perseverance and patience in the tricky conditions" seemed to pay off. It remains to be seen if these are the key skills needed for 2019.

Other returning winners include James Meaning in the XOD class with Gleam, and Roger Wickens with his 1938 Solent Sunbeam Danny.

The busy social calendar includes the Winkworth Tea and Cakes which are held after racing each afternoon at the Royal London Yacht Club. New for 2019 is a display of interesting and classic cars at the Classic Boat Museum event on Tuesday evening which includes an Aston Martin DB2/4 with a fascinating provenance. The Cowes Corinthian YC and the Island Sailing Club are helping on the water. Red Funnel, Signature Sponsor for Cowes Classics Week, is providing invaluable support for both the organisers and competitors including discounted travel fares to the event.

Racing takes place from 29th July to 2nd August 2019. Information, including the race programme and social events, are on cowesclassicsweek.org

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