A large tide combined with inconsistent winds near shore presented challenges for competitors who started on the Royal Yacht Squadron line where there was a mix of large pressure shells and huge lulls. The start sequence took place just after low tide, which created a further complication in the form of Grantham Rocks just west of the start, on which a number of competitors landed in the early stages of their race.
With a wind forecast of over 20 knots and stronger gusts, many boats with reefed mainsails were at the start. However, this magnified their losses in the doldrums, especially when they were at sea in the most adverse tide.
In IRC Class 6, the Handley and James families’ Mustang 30 Banter took the lead early, followed by Jeff Worboy’s Sigma 33 Workout and Richard and Ursula Holli’s X-95 Crackerjax. After a more conservative start, Murray MacDonald’s Hunter 707 Autism on the Water, now piloted by Emily Robertson, joined the leading pack near shore once well west of the rocks.
In contrast, Peter and Alison Morton’s immaculately restored classic Swan 36 Scherzo from Cowes, the class leader after the first three races, took a line further offshore. She went on to grab a third win this week ahead of Banter and Toby Gorman’s Sigma 33 Stan the Boat (a result under protest). Crackerjax finished fourth with her best result of the week so far.
A key part of the magic of Cowes Week is that everyone from the youngest sailing novices to the world’s most seasoned professionals race in the same conditions and on the same waters.
Today, the Sunsail 41.0 fleet, along with the two cruiser classes, had courses with relatively long legs that required less complex maneuvers than the boats in the high-performance fleets. The fleet got off to a clean start, with Tenzing making excellent progress on the port tack coast compared to the majority of the fleet further offshore and Hollis 2 being the only other boat to do well at this stage. By the end, however, Deloitte had climbed back to the top of the fleet, taking their fourth straight win ahead of Don’t Panic and Tenzing.
At the Club Cruiser Blue start, Chris Morris’ immaculate Morris 36 Chameleon of Cowes was well positioned at the gun, port tack inshore. However, she accelerated slowly, allowing Hugo Mills’ Bavaria 39 Salty Sailing (Precision) and Nick Hampton’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 Scandal to close the gap. These three boats then quickly pulled away from the rest of the fleet, although a few minutes after the start Salty stayed longer in the stronger tide and fell relative to the two leaders.
Scandal was victorious at the end of the two hour and 40 minute race, two minutes ahead of Chameleon whilst third was third place for Andrew Hanning’s Spirit 37 Whispering Spirit which had gone to sea after the start before coming closer to the north shore of the Solent.
In the Club Cruiser White class, two boats did significantly better than the rest of the fleet at the start. Darren Longley’s Beneteau Oceanis 34 Illusionist tacked to port just short of the gun on the preferred shore end of the line, while the clear class leader after the first three races, Ian Smith and James Barnes Westerly Fulmar Panda of Hamble, was further offshore.
However, the latter fell into a lull shortly after the start and quickly fell behind in the stronger current, giving Keith Harding’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35 Reach 4 the Wind an advantage. Illusionist took her first win of the week today, 40 seconds ahead of Panda, while German competitor Carl Hentges Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 Veritas was third, his second podium result to date.
The day concluded with a Women’s Day awards ceremony and a panel discussion with elite sailors including Volvo Ocean Race veterans Libby Greenhalgh and Emily Nagel who will discuss their career paths and the latest developments in women’s racing opportunities at Grand Prix level .
Attendees are invited to meet Meg Reilly of the Magenta Project tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon from 2pm to 5pm at the Cowes Week Media Center (inside the Yacht Haven Events Centre).
Video highlights from this week’s races.
Report by Rupert Holmes