Near perfect conditions saw the Swan European Regatta get underway in the Solent today in the Accenture Race Day. The 61 strong fleet started from the Royal Yacht Squadron startline under a clear blue sky and a 12-knot northerly breeze.
One of the largest Swans in the fleet, Kings Legend, the yacht that took second place in the 1981/2 Whitbread Round The World Race, was helmed by Diego Visconti, CEO of Accenture. Tonight Visconti will present the winners with the stunning Accenture Trophies.
The first mark was positioned to the East, on a flood tide, ensuring that the fleet was cautious as they approached the line. With the majority of the fleet nearing the start-line on port tack, 1999 Swan European Champion Jacobite sailed towards the start line on starboard tack in an attempt to gybe at the pin end to gain clear air. One luff too many on the approach to the start meant they were 20 seconds late and got caught in the pack.
As they crossed, Grandee, a Swan 51, got off cleanly at the pin end of the line with Eva and Aqua Equinox, a Swan 65 and 56 respectively, led the fleet from the middle of the line.
Spirit of Jethou was first to hoist their spinnaker as the fleet reached towards the first mark. In contrast, Island Fling chose to sail further inshore and remain in the strong tidal current as long as possible before hoisting their kite, enabling the Swan 60 to take the lead. Island Fling rounded the first mark with a 30 second lead over Spirit of Jethou, closely followed by Crackerjack. These three yachts held their positions until the finish.
Halfway through the race, the wind shifted to the west and increased to 18 knots. The race committee reacted by changing the course to give the 61 strong fleet a perfect windward-leeward to complete the day's racing.
Graham Deegan, of Menenes, winner of the small boat class in 1999 started with a second place today behind French yacht Xaossa. 'It was very sensible for the race committee to change the course halfway round. We had a good start, a couple of boats were over the line in front of us but returned to start. From then on, we led on the water from start to finish.'
Whilst Island Fling took line honours, it was the lowest rating boat, Elan that took first place on corrected time.