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Cowes Classics Week - Day 4

by Cowes Classics Week 1 Aug 14:14 PDT 27 July - 2 August 2019

All classes in the 12th Cowes Classics Week fleet had to kick their heels this morning on the Cowes waterfront as they, along with the Race Officers of the Royal London Yacht Club, waited for breeze to fill in from the west.

Enough wind finally arrived at lunch time for Cruiser classes including classes 1,2 and 3 to get away on a short race from the Club's shoreline start. The yachts made quick work of reaching the first windward mark on the ebb tide but once round, the breeze died once again, and progress against the tide was slow as the yachts hugged the beach along the Green of West Cowes - much to the delight of the spectators on the beach.

Richard Hargreaves' elegant 30 sq metre Aeolus led the way along the beach, pursued by Lawrence Wride's 1967 One Tonner SunMaid V, last year's Cowes Classics Week champion. As the yachts headed north and found a little more breeze Sunmaid V was able to pull ahead and finish once again in first place, after the course was shortened, keeping her a point ahead of Aeolus after five races.

Classes 2 and 3 experienced similar conditions, on their shorter mid-Solent course. "The conditions weren't very good close to the Island shore", reports Race Officer Derek Hodd. "We made sure that we could shorten the courses for all classes."

In Class 2 James Mehew's S&S She 31 Sheba romped away to the first mark extending her lead to a win. Class 3's Contessa 26 Coco of Parkstone looked immaculate despite being built in 1975, and seemed almost unbeatable but it was the pretty William Fife 111 design Intombi sailed by Neil Martin, who pulled ahead to win today's race.

With the forecast wind strengths looking light again for tomorrow, Derek and his team were keen to get the races in. The Folkboats and Gaffers got a start but also had their courses shortened. In the Gaffer class Spinaway X, the 1889-built Plymouth Hooker and Mouse, a Oysterman 16 modern gaffer managed to finish in a draw on corrected time, but Spinaway X has the edge on the series so far.

The committee boat race areas away to the north near Hill Head had more luck. A breeze of sorts arrived in the early afternoon enabling the XODs, Swallows, Solent Sunbeams, Darings and Vintage Dragons to get two windward-leeward races in. By 1600 the wind that everyone had waited for settled in for the afternoon.

Amongst the 37-strong XOD fleet Phil Lawrence, sailing Ibex with owner Paul Woodman, gained the top overall score of the day with a second and a fourth. Phil reported "It was very tricky racing this afternoon in the light areas with quite a few shifts. There was a course change in the first race but finally the breeze settled in." The tide was turning on the course and a split to the right allowing her to get a lee-bow advantage during the final beat of the first race give David Palmer's Princess Jalina, who was already in the lead, a further huge advantage. Max Crowe in Clair de Lune took the second race.

The Darings also enjoyed a belated afternoon of racing on the adjacent race area. "We had perfect conditions for our second race," said Robert Laird, who scored a 2nd and a 5th today. It seems no one can beat Dauntless with Richard Acland at the helm, but their straight run of five wins was brought to an end in the final race. "They were unable to break away from the pack," observed Robert. Dauntless only managed a third place but still has a convincing overall lead.

Solent Sunbeam sailor Simon Perkins in Kittie echoed Robert's comments. "The windward leeward racing was fantastic once we got going," he said. We had around 5-10 knots and it was a bit shifty to start with but for the second race we had 15 knots so it was ideal." Race wins went to Nick Leach in Polly and Roger Wickens in Danny. Danny leads on points going into the final day of racing tomorrow.

Red Funnel is Signature Sponsor of Cowes Classics Week and live coverage from on the water has been coming courtesy of Cowes Radio 87.9fm. Listen to the BBC Radio Solent Podcast on www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07j7zxx.

Winkworth sponsored morning tea and cakes while sailors waited for the wind at the Royal London Yacht Club. The Cowes Corinthian YC and the Island Sailing Club are helping on the water.

Racing finishes tomorrow, 2nd August 2019. More information at www.cowesclassicsweek.org.

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