Day three of Lendy Cowes Week delivered yet more racing in blazing sun and a perfect south westerly breeze of 12-16 knots that gradually built to a peak of 20 knots by the end of the afternoon.
It was a day of intensely close racing for many competitors, with numerous podium places decided by only a handful of seconds after more than three hours of racing.
Today was also the event’s Charity Day, supporting the Andrew Simpson Foundation. Inspired by Bart’s Bash, the annual international day of racing for which an overall winner is calculated, the Foundation applied the same process to the 800 competitors racing today, with Sam Cox’s King 40 Nifty from IRC Class 1 provisionally named as winner of the Cowes Bash.
Most of the early starts for the Black Group yachts starting on the Bramble line favoured the southern end of the line, but a wind shift under a line of cloud just before the start of the Quarter Ton class switched the bias towards the committee boat end.
This line of cloud, which was streaming off the high ground of Tennyson Down at the western end of the Isle of Wight, had a useful extra few knots of breeze beneath it and at the time was positioned over the more favourable tide in the middle on the last of the west going stream, generating more complex tactical options than the earlier fleets encountered.
This left Ed White’s immaculately restored Joker more or less alone at the pin, while Louise Morton’s Bullit avoided the pack, starting mid-line. Tony Hayward’s Blackfun won his first race of the series, finishing almost four minutes ahead of Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila. Bullit crossed the line 67 seconds after Aguila to take third place both on the water and on corrected time.
This class has a reputation for extremely close racing and this year is no exception. While Aguilla now leads the class overall with only six points, Bullit and Blackfun are on 9 and 10 points respectively and the next four boats are separated by only one point.
The right hand wind shift was still evident for the Contessa 32 start 10 minutes after the Quarter Tonners. Nevertheless, yesterday’s winner, Eldred Himsworth’s Drumbeat, started at the southern end, while most of the remainder of the fleet opted for the northern end, with Donna and Martin Rouse-Collen’s Andaxi and Mark Tyndall’s Persephone both making good starts there.
With Drumbeat retiring from today’s race, the way was clear for Andaxi to take her first win of the series, 27 seconds ahead of Ray Rouse’s Blanco. Ed Bell’s Mary Rose Tudor took third, just over a minute later.
This year IRC Class 6 is a large fleet with boats ranging from older 38 footers such as Jonathan Rolls’ Swan 38 Xara and David Kirkley’s Nicholson 39 Conteza, through Impalas to Edmund Gatehouse’s J/24 Jupiter and Kevin Downer’s diminutive Jeanneau Fun 23 Ziggy.
Today Barnaby Smith, Graham Tullett and Nick Hance’s Impala Imptish made a good start at the northern end of the line, with Giovanni Belgrano’s 38ft classic Whooper on her windward hip. Olly Love and Sam Flint’s Impala Too Frank made a similarly good start mid-line, while the Handley and James families’ Mustang 30 GR8 Banter, Richard and Ursula Hollis’ X95 Crackerjax and Bernard Fyan’s Mustang 30 Erik the Red all looked well placed towards the pin end of the line.
Whooper took line honours ahead of Simon Cory’s Cory 290 Icom Cool Blue, with both boats saving their time on the rest of the fleet to take first and second places on corrected time as well. Tillman Frank’s Albin Stratus Sagitta was next across the line, getting an RYS canon for third place on the water. However, she failed to save her time against two Impalas, Imptish and Sam Flint and Olly Love’s Too Frank, which took third and fourth places on corrected time respectively.
“We won today by keeping out of the tide in the shallows – a bit irresponsible really and we promise we won’t do it again,” said Belgrano. “We are feeling bad because we are taking far too many risks with our 78-year-old Laurent Giles design – from now on we are going to give her a bit of a break. The other reason we did so well today, and yesterday, was because the course favoured us. Whooper loves reaching, and there has been lots of reaching over the last two days. Our crew work is tip-top too – we’ve sailed over 50 races so far this season and we all know the boat inside out.”
The largest boat in IRC Class 7, Piers Fitzwilliams’ Elizabethan 30 Moonshot, was well placed close to the committee boat end of the line at the start, but Dave Wright’s H-Boat Hubble Bubble had more speed at the gun and emerged from leeward in front. Having started further south, Jo Richard’s much modified and renovated 1964 Alacrity 19 Eeyore, the smallest boat in Black Group, tacked quickly onto port, crossing ahead of both Moonshot and Hubble Bubble.
Paul Dunstan’s International Folkboat Mandarin took line honours, but couldn’t save his time on Eeyore, which won on corrected time by 46 seconds. Hubble Bubble was second to finish, but was beaten into third place on corrected time by John Mulcahy’s Stella Estrella, by only 30 seconds.
In the Solent Sunbeam class Richard Smyth’s Betty pulled away ahead of the pack immediately after the start, with Becky Wickens’ and Ollie Gilchrist’s Sky a few lengths further offshore to leeward. At this early stage Roger Wickens’ Danny, which has dominated this class for years, was a few lengths further back and to leeward of Sky.
When they crossed tacks off the Green seven minutes into the race Sky was just ahead of Betty and tacked to cover. Sky went on to finish more than a minute ahead of Stewart Reed’s Firefly, with Danny taking an uncharacteristic third place 33 seconds later.
The Swallow class has enjoyed some very close racing over the first couple of days of Lendy Cowes Week, with yesterday’s winner determined by only two seconds. Anthony Lunch and Andrew Reid’s Solitude allowed themselves to be swept down tide away from the line, before starting close to the shore. At the same time one of the class’s two youth teams, Jemima Lawson, James Pinder and Jamie Webb’s Svala, plus Charles Fisher’s Migrant were best placed towards the outer end of the line.
Solitude quickly tacked onto port after the start, clearing ahead of the entire fleet, with the exception of Migrant, before tacking back onto starboard. However, Sir Malcolm Green’s Archant, the winner of the first two races, was a few lengths offshore in more reliable breeze and passed ahead of both when they first crossed tacks in the patchy wind under the lee of the shore.
Mike Wigmore’s Gwaihir, who missed the opening race and retired from the second, won today’s race with a 17 second advantage over Green at the finish. Migrant pipped Solitude into third place by a margin of only four seconds.
“It was a great day on the water and fabulous sailing,” said Wigmore. “Yesterday we had to retire because we had a course-reading error, so we are extra pleased today. It was an interesting race though because we were mid fleet for most of the race, with the leader about a quarter of a mile ahead. Anyway, through good crew work, playing the shifts and positive thinking, we worked our way up and managed to sneak through into the lead at the last mark. The moral of the story today is ‘never give up’.”
Most of the Redwing fleet was cautious on their approach to the line, with the back markers not clearing the start area until three minutes after the gun. Nick Rowton Lee and Rory Morrison’s Banzai ll and Ed Nainby Luxmore’s Snowgoose ll led the pack into the inshore end of the line, while Nick Wakefield’s Bizarre opted for a port tack approach at the outer end.
Although Banzai ll pulled into an early lead, after finding a good lane of wind inshore the Greenwood and Tate families’ Rosetta crossed ahead after a couple of minutes, before dropping back a few minutes later. Meanwhile, having found clean air, Dominic Samuelson’s Tarpon pulled up into second place on the water for a few minutes, until a less than perfect tack underneath Banzai ll saw her slip back to third place 10 minutes after the start.
By the finish Snowgoose ll held a comfortable two and a half minute lead over Rosetta, with Banzai ll finishing third almost two minutes later. The wide spacing of the first three boats, however, belied how close the competition was further down the fleet – after three hours of racing less than 10 minutes separated the 14 boats in places four to seventeen.
“It was fantastic racing today with a good course for us and the boat was going well and really seemed to power through the waves,” said Nainby-Luxmoore. “As we led off the line we spent the race working hard to keep the others behind, so there were times when we wished the course was a bit shorter. Having said that it was really enjoyable and we are very pleased to have won a race. Last year I was sailing with my dad when we won overall, so this is the first time I have helmed at Cowes, sailing with my friends – all of us under 24.”
by Rupert Holmes / CWL