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AAM Cowes Week – A windless Day 4 but better prospects tomorrow
Fleet in action - 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week© Rick Tomlinson / AAM Cowes Week

AAM Cowes Week – A windless Day 4 but better prospects tomorrow

Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2015 – With no wind predicted for the Solent area today racing for all classes was abandoned.

“It was really unfortunate to lose a day’s racing,” says race director Stuart Quarrie, “but with no wind there was no other option. We waited until 1100 to see if any zephyrs from the north-east might build into a sailable breeze, but they didn’t materialise.”

While occasional patches of wind could be seen on the Solent there was never enough for racing and the wind stayed resolutely below five knots all day and there was too much cloud for any hope of a sea breeze. In the early afternoon one large yacht off Cowes could be seen with her spinnaker just filling, but she was moving backwards over the ground on the east-going flood tide.

Two classes – SB20s and J/70s – were scheduled to finish a mini series of seven races held over the first four days of the regatta today. These winners can therefore be confirmed, even though the classes will continue to compete for the main Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week trophies for the rest of the week.

Going into the final mini series race, Charlie Esse’s Darwin Property Investment was leading the J/70 Short Series by three points. However, Esse finished this race in seventh place, crossing the line three minutes after the winner, Simon Ling’s Team RAF Benevolent Fund. John Greenland’s Rule one also had a good last race, finishing as runner up for the second time in the series. This shook up the leaderboard, with Ling taking the overall title on 14 points, ahead on Esse on 17 and Greenland on 24 points.

Adrian Peach’s Uber won the SB20 Grand Slam, one of a trio of events run by the class around Europe this year. Peach was able to discard a seventh place in the opening race to finish on 11 points, giving him a sizeable margin on the 19 points of Dave Atkinson’s Baloo. Duncan Pryde’s 3-Some took third place in the 30-strong fleet, on 21 points.

“The points were really close until the final day,” says Peach. “This is my first Cowes Grand Slam and it’s a different style of racing for us, but it was really enjoyable. It definitely kept the old grey matter stirring away yesterday, we had big long races – it was very exciting.”

“We’ve had six brilliant races, hard races with very close competition,” added John Outhwaite, a crewmember on Baloo. “Just three seconds on the finish line between first and second yesterday was super, and the starting was brilliant this week.” Radley College’s Trouble and Strife team won the SB20 mini series youth category. Skippered by 17-year-old George Chilvers, with a crew of three school mates aged just 14, they were regularly beating experienced campaigners and are sure contenders for the title of youngest crew at Cowes this year.

Today is Liz Earle Ladies Day, which champions the role of women in sailing and celebrates the 150 per cent rise in the number of female competitors at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week over the past decade. The on-water activities scheduled for today will now take place tomorrow, Wednesday August 12. These include the Ariel Trophy, which is awarded to the boat with a female helm that scores the best result of the day. In addition, on-the-water spot prizes will be awarded tomorrow to boats flying Liz Earle Ladies Day flags.

The presentation for the Ladies Day trophy will take place as planned this evening. Nominees this year include Libby Greenhalgh, who was navigator on the all-women Team SCA in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Julia Bailey, whose Dragon Aimee is currently overall class leader, is also nominated. Earlier this year she became the first woman helm ever to win the class’s prestigious Edinburgh Cup in its 67-year history.

Another nominee is 25-year-old Lizzy Foreman, who was due to race as skipper on one of official event charity UKSA’s Farr 65s today. It’s very different from the tiny yacht she normally sails – a 21ft raceboat in which she is one of only two women among the 84 entries in this year’s Mini Transat race, a 4,000 mile epic from the west coast of France to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

The remainder of the nominees are Team SCA sailors Annie Lush and Sam Davies, XOD sailor Gemma Osgood, Redwing sailor Jessica Speare-Cole, First 40.7 owner Rachel McNamara and record-breaking kite surfer Steph Bridge.

Looking ahead

Tomorrow is forecast to start with more consistent breezes of around eight to 10 knots, that may build quickly to 15 knots or more. It is also Youth Day at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, where the focus will switch to the many crews, skippers and sailors who are aged under 25.

by Rupert Holmes

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