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9 August 2004, 09:59 am
Fresh Breeze For A Beautiful Day
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Skandia Cowes Week
Cowes, IOW

After late starts and lazy weather, competitors looked forward to a promise of fresh breeze on day two. By breakfast the wind was well established, but with rain and dying breezes expected for the afternoon the committee set courses of moderate length.
So it was that the promised schedule came to pass and the Cork 1720s and Laser SB3s made their appearance to get the show underway. At least that was the plan. Fierce jostling on the line saw first one and then a second general recall for these fleets.

Somewhere in the middle of this Brett LEWIS and his team aboard the 1720 Murphy & Nye managed to get caught napping on port tack by the Etchells 007 on starboard (owned by Sparks...Mike SPARKS). The resultant coming together left both boats shaken and stirred and Lewis only just made it back to Cowes Yacht Haven before Murphy & Nye sank beneath his feet, his sponsor wryly observing that they should have added some logos to the mast. Not to be outdone, Ian ATKINS at the con of the 1720 tried a bit too hard and hit the rock off the Squadron, which eventually resulted in the discovery of a very unhappy keel.

The 1720s and SB3s eventually got away with a fleet bunched up at the committee end of the line. While most boats went for the safe bet of starting on starboard, Neil McGrigor bucked the trend, opting to take his SB3 Boo on a port adventure. Although he had a good start Boo eventually finished a disappointing 19th out of 27 riders. The winner in this class yesterday, adding to his first on day one, was Volvo Ocean Race CEO Glenn BOURKE aboard Musto.

In the Etchells fleet there was some frustration too. "I'd rather talk about yesterday's race that we won, stated Barry Dunning aboard Best Mate, when asked for his view.

"I'm sailing with Chris Torrens in his new boat and it seems to be going very well,"
Dunning continued. "I was doing foredeck because I'm younger. I'm also sailing with Merlin Rocket sailor Alan WARREN. Today's racing was a disaster because we lost a shroud while running behind Jervis TILLY and Maarc WAITE aboard Bushfire (who came second) and vying with Nils and Ant RAZMILOVIC on Swedish Blue(the eventual winners). Fortunately we managed to tack quickly, saving the rig, before effecting repairs to get back into it again. We eventually came 14th."

There was a notable absence of bigger boats off the Royal Yacht Squadron. With IRM Class 0, and IRC Classes 1-4 starting from a committee boat anchored off Browndown, most of the visible action centred around the smaller boats. Spectators were spared the sight of the IRM boats getting involved in a David and Goliath situation when they sailed off the line and straight into a swarm of dinghies racing near Lee on Solent. Fortunately no reported stones were thrown.

Peter OGDEN'S Swan 601 Spirit of Jethou survived that encounter, only to hook the chain holding the Mary Rose buoy with her bulb, a pretty exciting thing to do with any yacht, let alone one just launched a month ago. Later inspection after she retired revealed scratches only, which perhaps points towards a future as a lucky ship.

In IRC 1 Yachting World's Matthew SHEAHAN was once again aboard the DK46 Fidessa Fastwave."We had a much better day today, but with the same result (third)," Matt explained. "It was a longer race and the breeze was steady. The committee made a good decision with the longer course and we went right out past the Forts out at the eastern end of the Solent and then back in. It was pretty tight racing with Flirt, Richard Matthews' Corby 46, and the Farr 52 Red Bear beating us by a very small margin, in that order. There are big distances between the boats but the racing is close on handicap. I think we must be first or equal first at the moment."

Back on the Squadron line, with the east-going tide picking up, it began to look like there may be significant gains to be had starting away from the committee, at the Beta buoy end of the line, but few boats went for this somewhat risky option.

The RS K6s started with their stablemates, the RS Elite. The first day's second and third-placed Shaggy and Pippi were up at the front, along with Neil AUSTEN'S Jojo, leading the pack away from the line. Only Pippi vaguely managed to hang on to this, finishing fourth, with Patrick SEELY'S Columbia taking the gun. Jojo unfortunately failed to follow up on her start and sailed home at the tail end of the K6 fleet.

Despite the fact that both classes are built by LDC sailboats, the K6 and Elite fleets couldn't be more different. Whereas the K6 is a flat and beamy asymmetric sportsboat, the newer Elite, launched at the London Boat Show this year, is more reminiscent of a meter boat, narrow with long overhangs. Among the Elites, Peter WAREHAM and Mike TONG'S Ciao Bella consolidated her win on day one with another gun yesterday.

The Sigma 33s got off to a clean start, with no recalls. Richard PUDDIFOOT'S Whippa Snappa and Julian SPENCER-SMITH'S Jupa leading the 18-strong fleet away from the line. Puddifoot managed to translate that into second but it was John GIMSON'S Honey of Bosham that took line honours.

Sometimes later starts can be a curse but not today for the Swallow Class. Ebullient class chairman Anthony LUNCH, aboard Solitude, confirmed. "Today's racing was absolutely great fun, a fantastic sail and we had a really close finish for the second day running. Yesterday seven boats finished within one minute and the same happened today. We've come second for the second day running, the best start we've had for Cowes Week. The race today was won by Migrant who was third yesterday so I think we're currently in the joint lead but it's early days. The leading boat, Darter, would have won easily but she went the wrong way round a mark."

Five minutes after the Swallows, Adam and Brian Charlesworth's little Intro 22 Red Time got away to a great start in Class 9. They were Right at the Beta buoy end just as the first of the multihulls, Gerber Firebird, came screaming down towards her first Cowes win. Simon Osgood's Folkboat So! took Class 9 honours for the day, a welcome result after a seventh yesterday but the strongest boat so far looks to be Terry ROWE'S Corby 25 Drake's Drum with two second placings. After the early promise of the day Red Time got it wrong somewhere to add a 13th to the previous day's no declaration.

The first day's driftathon did not suit the Contessa Class, so yesterday's breeze was welcome, allowing the cobwebs to be blown out of No2 genoas and a typically competitive start, albeit with Fresh Herring and Andaxi judged OCS for pushing too hard, a decision they felt to be harsh.

The first beat saw boats fanning out left, right and up the middle. Notable was Zenith, starting on port at the pin end, then ducking most of the fleet before tacking back and crossing everyone - two bites of the strong tide proving better than one. It put them in third at the first mark, behind Blanco and Drumbeat and just ahead of yesterday's winner Polar Star. Not bad for helm David Hall, given it is his first season sailing the boat and also that he has a novice crew - they were to finish fourth.

However line honours went to Eldred HIMSWORTH'S Drumbeat, a boat often capable of greatness especially given some wind, but equally capable of producing erratic results. This class could once again go to the wire.

One of the greatest performances of the day must surely be Giovanni BELGRANO'S impressive IRC Class 7 victory on his 1939 Laurent Giles sloop Whooper. She finished eight minutes ahead on corrected time while the next three boats all finished within less than a minute of each other.

The recent winner of the Round The Island Race explained his start: "We got an absolutely top spot. We had one boat to leeward and one to windward. They were both over the line. We were right on the line at maximum power." Today's breezy conditions didn't hurt either. "It was perfect conditions," Belgrano agreed. "Windy, with wind against tide. We decided to go with the number one when some others went with jibs. We knew we needed the drive through the chop. Then we stretched it out on both downwind legs."

Unfortunately things are not looking quite as promising from here on in, at least for forecastable future. Today's advancing deep low is tomorrow's retreating filling low according to the latest synoptic, with a pressure gradient of just 4mb between the middle of Ireland and the southern end of the North Sea. Furthermore it is likely the day will be overcast after some rain tonight, which throws into question the birthrights of sea breezes as well.

The full story is available on the Cowes Week website at the address below, along with full results from all classes.
Sue Pelling, Mike Kopman and Kim Hollamby
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