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Cowes Week 2019 - Day 5

by Rupert Holmes / CWL 14 Aug 2019 13:21 PDT 10-17 August 2019
Flying Fifteen racing on day 5 of Cowes Week 2019 © Paul Wyeth / CWL

Very shifty southerly winds provided testing conditions for navigators and tacticians at Cowes Week today as a number of weather fronts passed over the race area. With very strong gusts recorded to the west of the Solent during the morning, relatively short courses were set with the aim of getting fleets home before winds increased further over the race areas in the afternoon.

During the start sequences winds varied between 10 and 18 knots, with the forecast rain fortuitously holding off. The wind had eased to 10 knots for the start of IRC Class 4 on the Bramble line. David Frank's J/112e Leon and Paul McNamara's First 40.7 Incognito started the day tied on equal points, with another J/112e, Bruce Huber's Xanaboo, in third place overall, just two points behind.

A left-handed wind shift at the gun saw the best-placed boats, including Nicky and Tim Octon's Corby 35 NJOS, Sacha Kakad's Sun Fast 3600 Westbase (the barely disguised Jellyfish), Incognito and Leon tacking onto port at the gun. Westbase initially benefited most from the lifted wind, but Leon appeared to have the best start in clean air. At the end of the 18-mile race Westbase took line honours a minute and a half ahead of the higher rated Leon, with another J/112e, James Chalmers' Happy Daize, taking third seven seconds later.

In the next start, for IRC Class 5, the overall leader after the first three days of racing, Harry Heijst's S&S41 Winsome port tacked the entire fleet. It looked to be a brave move for an 11-tonne boat with limited manoeuvrability compared to the JPKs, Sun Fast 3200s and J/Boats that make up much of this class.

The two leaders on the water, Winsome and Mike Bridges' JPK10.10 Elaine Again initially misidentified the final leeward mark. It was an uncharacteristic mistake for these normally successful boats that allowed Richard Palmer's JPK10.10 Jangada, which usually races double-handed offshore, to take the lead. She finished with a three minute advantage in class 5A ahead of Winsome on corrected time, with Ronsyn Borghijs' young family crew on the Archambault 35 Tontin Pups taking third place.

Palmer's team today included Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas and IMOCA 60 sailor Pip Hare. "We had debated whether to use the A5 spinnaker on the shorter legs across the Solent, and decided not to, but then held it all the way on the last leg to the finish, hitting a maximum speed of 15.6 knots," he said. "There were some mighty gusts, including a 33 knot squall."

In the Sunsail Match F40 fleet Tenzing started the day leading the class, having scored two firsts and a second place. Today the class saw the tightest of finishes among the leaders, with Investec crossing the line two seconds ahead of Tenzing. George Jorgensen's 1851, representing the official Cowes Week Charity, the 1851 Trust, took third place a minute later.

"We were two seconds in front of the second boat at the finish," says Simon Hamilton of Investec. "My brother was on Tenzing and led until the last 300 yards to the finish when we both hoisted spinnakers as the wind dropped. We had a bit of a gust so caught up right behind them, and then they hit a bit of traffic. They decided to go below, but we went above, hoping there would be was enough water. Thankfully we caught a bit of a gust closer to shore. It was a bit of a risk, with about half a meter under the keel, but we got a little puff and we rolled on top of them. I'm very happy it was a family 1, 2."

One of the largest yachts at the regatta, Richard Loftus' Swan 65 Desperado, took victory in Cruiser Division A today, taking line honours by a margin of almost 10 minutes. This was enough to secure a win on corrected time ahead of Charles Esse's X4^3 Baby X and Lord Michael Grade's Shipman 50 Zephyr.

In Cruiser Division B Pete Newlands' First 40.7 Anticipation took a fourth successive win, 40 seconds ahead of Michael Carrington's Sweden Yachts 45 Susimi ll. Andrew and Muriel Norton's J/100 Tide Race completed the podium.

White Group dayboats

The breeze was even more variable for the White Group dayboat starts on the RYS line right under the shelter of the island. In the 22-strong Redwing class James Wilson's Quail, Annie, Joe and Bel Robertson's Red Gauntlet ll, and Henry and Roderick Thorpe's Redwitch were first away, having started towards the inshore end of the line.

However, those who started further north got to the tidal relief on the Ryde Middle Bank first and Wilson dropped to ninth at the first mark. After that he says: "Good navigation work and buoy spotting on the following upwind leg meant we rounded the next mark in the lead and were able to extend that lead to the finish."

He finished with an advantage of almost 90 seconds over John Raymond and Matt Alexander's Harlequin. George Greenwood's Rosetta took third. Racing was incredibly tight further down the fleet, with the six boats in places 6-12 finishing within just 35 seconds.

In the Flying 15 fleet Steve Stewart's Ffast Lady was first away, just ahead of 18-year-old Will Heritage's Freddie Flintoff. Ffast Lady was also quick to hoist a spinnaker and gained a 5-6 length lead by the time Heritage, who is racing with his Dad, David, had followed suit. However, he accelerated quickly on the gusts coming out of the River Medina and quickly established a windward overlap, before overtaking as the fleet headed east towards a first mark on the Ryde Middle Bank.

Heritage extended his lead around the course to win a third consecutive race, finishing nearly three minutes ahead of Stewart, while Mike Dixon's Fflashback took third place. "It was a southerly wind, so it was all over the place," says Heritage, "but it was nice to be out in a good bit of breeze and we had enough weight to carry the spinnaker all the way to the first mark." He now has a commanding overall lead in the Musto Young Skipper's Trophy.

In the Sonar class Matt Grier's Limbitless, from the Andrew Cassell Foundation, looked well placed mid-line. However Dolphin, another ACF boat skippered by David Smith, soon crept ahead, along with Andy Cassell's Jenny. In a tight finish Alistair Barter's Bertie took the winner's gun 15 seconds ahead of Jenny, with ACF Limbitless third.

Today the 15 Seaview Mermaids were using their heavy weather sail plan. Charles Glanville's Sirena responded to an individual recall at the start, and was very late restarting thanks to a lull in the wind and a strengthening west-going tidal stream.

This left Oliver Glanville's Cynthia leading the fleet inshore, a couple of lengths ahead of William Edwards' Annabelle, with Anthony Eaton's Mimosa also well placed a few lengths further offshore. The series leader, Kate Broxham's Adastra, was buried mid-fleet on the start.

None of the early leaders featured on the podium at the end of the day. Hugo Mills' Sheen was first to finish, 25 seconds ahead of John Sandifoot Haigh's Halluf, with Ben Few Brown's Scuttle taking third place. Adastra climbed to fifth in a tight finish, enough to retain first place overall, one point ahead of Sirena.

"We were pleased today because although we won overall last year, this was our first win of the week so far," says Mills. "Although the wind was quite shifty the tides were a big factor for us today. We were leading when we overshot the final mark in the tide, so lost out a bit. Thankfully we had a reasonable lead so it wasn't too concerning."

A Red Funnel car ferry came though the middle of the start line, clearing it only two minutes before the start of the Victory class, forcing a postponement to allow the fleet to reposition for their start. By the time they restarted rain had returned to the central Solent, with the mainland shore barely visible from the RYS starting platform.

At the gun Mike Scott's Isabel was half a length ahead of the line and sailed back further than necessary to clear the line, loosing valuable time before restarting. This left Hugh Pringle's Pelican and Duncan Evans' Peregrine looking best placed, with Geoff and Sarah Dixon's Zelia also doing well a little further offshore.

A tight finish saw the entire fleet finish with less than six minutes. Zelia claimed victory nine seconds ahead of Russell Mead's Shearwater ll, with Gareth Penn's Christina taking third place 28 seconds later.

Youth day presented by Antigua Sailing Week

Today there was a focus on young sailors at Cowes Week in recognition of the 20 crews in which all members are aged under 25, plus a further 28 young skippers. The regatta is keen to encourage, facilitate and inspire young people to get involved in sailing.

Alex Downer's Panther won today's race in the Squib class and is second in the standings for the Musto Young Skippers Trophy, behind Will Heritage, with Joe Bottomley's First 40 Sailplane Bucketlust third.

Oliver Hill's SB20 H2 Sailing Team is currently leading the competition for the Land Rover Under 25 Trophy, with Hugo Vallerie's Diam 24 catamaran Sofia 3 second and Robby Boyd's Etchells Sumo third.

Other entries include Eros, a 22ft E-Boat in IRC Class 7 skippered by 18 year old Azat Ulutas. The boat was restored by teenagers at Greig City Academy, an inner city comprehensive school on their own initiative as an extension of the Scaramouche project.

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