Cowes Week 2022 – Day 6
by Rupert Holmes Aug 4 1:06pm PDT
July 30 – August 5, 2022
A thrilling finish for the Grand Prix yachts competing for the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup, one of sailing’s most coveted prizes, saw Christian Zugel’s GP42 shot bye three boats just 30 seconds apart over the line of the Royal Yacht Squadron led. Fourth and fifth on the water were also very closely contested, with two IC37s, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua and Bertie Bicket’s Fargo, just 19 seconds apart after nearly three hours of racing.
However, with the award given to the boat with the best corrected time, the early leaders had to wait temptingly before Guy Gillon’s and Christian Hamilton’s Fast 40 Khumbu could be confirmed as the winners by 22 seconds on bye.
The race took place today in a west-southwest sea breeze of 10-15 knots with large shifts and some lulls. Start times on the Royal Yacht Squadron line also coincided with the onset of a near-shore westbound tidal vortex between the start line and Egypt Point nearly half a mile west. This resulted in a number of boats misjudging their starts and two of the nine classes starting here were the subject of general recalls.
There was disappointment at the start of the day for overall leaders in the Daring class, Graham Wilkinson and John Corby’s and Doublet, who started early and had to catch up from a large deficit after getting back on the right side of the line. Doublet recovered and finished third, but a win for Milo Carver, Richard Romer-Lee, Jane Peckham and Joshua Peckham on Dauntless propelled her to the top of the leaderboard.
The pattern was repeated on the second start, where some Dragons were early and best-in-class, Eric Williams’ Ecstatic, returned despite being just behind the line on the shooting range. Williams threw up today’s seventh place finish, but a win for Gavia Wilkinson-Cox’s Jerboa put her in first place overall, a point ahead of Ecstatic.
“We had the most extraordinary day,” says Wilkinson-Cox. “After the windward mark at Gurnard Bay we headed to a mark on the north shore but before we got there the wind dropped and went in circles. We rounded that mark in third and then moved up to second, but when we finished we had no idea the boat in front of the start had been OCS.
“It’s very tight at the front of the class now for tomorrow’s final race,” she added. “If Eric wins he wins the overall standings, otherwise there has to be a boat between Ecstatic and us for him to win.”
In contrast, the XOD class goes into the final day with the leaderboard wide open. Max and Mike Crowe’s Clair de Lune leads the fleet with 17 points, but three other boats are tied on 19 points: Richard Faulkner’s Swallow, Jonathan Clark’s Tortoise and John Tremlett’s Astralita.
The fleet converged towards the start today towards the outer distance mark, but remarkably early as several rows of boats luffed over the line prematurely before the start, leading to a general recall. The restart coincided with a major lull in the wind, but the fleet still got away cleanly under a U-flag, with Tortoise, Ken Williamson’s La Mouette and Thom D’Arcy, Neil Payne and Tim Watson’s Sirena best placed.
Initially, Barry Dunning’s Crumpet also appeared to have a useful coastal advantage but was in less wind and less favorable tides so this proved short-lived. Five minutes into the race, after Tortoise had spent more time a little further from shore in the stronger breeze and current, Tortoise transitioned into what appeared to be a narrow but useful early lead.
Swallow won today ahead of James Meaning’s Gleam, Tortoise in third place and Clair de Lune in fourth place. Astralita was able to throw away an atypical 14th place today, but must not make any mistakes in tomorrow’s final race.
The main objective of Cowes Week is to maximize the number of launches on the Royal Yacht Squadron line. However, three committee boats were also deployed today to cut the start sequence from the usual couple of hours to just 40 minutes, allowing all classes to race despite the light conditions.
Several Seaview Mermaids misjudged the increasing current at the start and crossed the line prematurely. This left Oliver Dobbs’ Rosemary, Amma Cockell, Robin Maccaw and Simon Edwards’ Amethyst looking well placed, as did John Sandiford Haigh’s Sirena a little further offshore.
At this early stage it paid off to stay a little apart, with a stronger current and a more consistent breeze, and as they approached Egypt Point Sirena retained the lead ahead of Amethyst and Charles Glanville’s Zara. The latter clinched her first regatta victory with a commanding lead of two and a half minutes. The race for second place could not have been closer, however, with nine boats led by Anthony Eaton’s Adastra and Kate Broxham’s Miranda all crossing the finish line within 80 seconds.
The Victory class started in a tight group in the tide favored center line area and piled impressively close to the line, but some boats skidded over the wrong side of the line just before launch. Team Scammell’s Zinnia, along with Jim Page’s Seagull, plus Zoe Whittaker’s Jim Downing, Stephen Fry and Ziva, both a little further offshore, drifted away from the competition immediately after the shot. However, Nick Benham, Ian Perryman and Clive Goods Zilch made big gains by maximizing the time they spent in the stronger favorable current and more consistent wind, a little further offshore than the others. She took the win by 63 seconds over Ziva, while Geoff Dixon’s Zelia was third, just six seconds ahead of Russell Mead, Darren Ballard and Adrian Edwards’ Shearwater ll.