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22 June 2005, 09:24 am
A Good Day For Young And Old
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Rolex Swan European Regatta 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

It was the Italian Swan 601's first competitive outing but Cuor di Leone was the standout performer among the big boats on day one of the Rolex Swan European Regatta. Meanwhile in the smaller boats of Group B, it was the oldest Swan, helmed by the oldest owner, that won their first race of the day, a stunning performance by Jem TETLEY's vintage Swan 36 Carte Blanche.
In the big boat division, owner/driver Leonardo FERRAGAMO (ITA) made two good starts from the Royal Yacht Squadron start line off the Cowes seafront, and helmed the brand new 60 footer into contention with Stay Calm, Stuart ROBINSON's impeccably crewed Swan 70. These two yachts have former Olympic and America's Cup team mates calling the tactics, Andy BEADSWORTH (GBR) aboard Cuor di Leone and Adrian STEAD (GBR) on Stay Calm. Both are familiar with the vagaries of the Solent, and local knowledge is never more useful here than when the wind is light and the tide is strong. Calling laylines, particularly downwind, was extremely difficult but the crew work on these two boats enabled them to steal a march on the three other Swan 601s and the Swan 56 Zingala.

However, all of Cuor di Leone's hard work appeared to unravel on the final run when she wrapped her gennaker around the forestay in a poorly executed gybe. Her sisterships closed her down and it looked as though the Swedish yacht Artemis would sneak past her rivals by opting to run down the shore past Gurnard. But the Italian boat recovered well from her mishap and reached across the Solent from the far side to claim the lead, even getting back in front of the Swan 70.

These two then engaged in a gybing duel all the way back down to the Squadron finish line at Cowes. By the minute, the wind was getting lighter and the adverse current stronger, and the leading bunch seemed to be taking two steps forward and one step back in the difficult conditions. In the end Cuor di Leone stretched away from Stay Calm, as the sluicing tide continued to exaggerate any gaps between the yachts. Despite being just a couple of hundred metres behind the Italian Swan 601, it took Artemis another 15 minutes before she could claim third across the line, winning a close battle against Spirit of Jethou and Island Fling.

Soon after the first gaggle of big boats had finished, the wind filled in again and brought the rest of Group A running down in much faster conditions. This relegated the Swan 601s to the bottom of the pile on corrected time, except for Cuor di Leone which notched up a very useful second place. The only boat to beat her on handicap was Stephen JAMES' Swan 48 Jacobite, well known for her speed in these tricky waters.

If the strong tide was causing problems for Group A, it was wreaking havoc among the smaller boats of Group B. At one leeward mark known as Ocean Safety, the fleet bunched up on itself as crews realized that the only way to beat the tide was to continue flying spinnakers well past the mark. Some yachts misjudged it and hit the mark, but those that got around cleanly were off and away up the final leg, the tide now working as their friend as it conveyor belted them to the finish. First round the tidal gate of Ocean Safety was Menenes, and the Swan 441 was rewarded with second on corrected time.

However, most astonishing performance of all was that of Carte Blanche, the 1968 built Swan 36 which has been owned by Jem and Mor TETLEY since 1970. Jem TETLEY said the only reason he bought the boat all those years ago was because his wife Mor admired the ingenuity of the bread board so much. 'We love crispy French bread, but the crumbs get everywhere in a boat,' explained Jem TETLEY, 'so my wife had to have this boat.' They say you should not judge a book by its cover but perhaps you can judge a boat by its bread board, if yesterday's victory is anything to go by.

The wind had picked up nicely for the start of Group A and B's second races, and later gusted up to 17 knots. That, combined with a beautifully sunny day, made for a perfect day's sailing on the Solent. However, some teams must have been enjoying their lunch a little too much, as a number of boats were minutes late for their starts, notably Group A's race one winner Jacobite. Among the Swan 601s, Artemis was late starting while Spirit of Jethou was early - forcing her to return to restart. This opened the way for Cuor di Leone to race out into another lead, challenged only by the Swan 70 Stay Calm.

The Italian boat's local tactician, BEADSWORTH, was delighted to have taken line honours in both races. 'It has been a good day for us,' said the America's Cup helmsman. 'The boat is working out well and the team is coming together. And tactically we haven't made any blunders. It was fun racing around with Stay Calm. There are a lot of old friends between the two boats, and there is a bit of banter running between us, and a lot of grinning faces.'

Tactician on Menenes, Olympic sailor Pete NEWLANDS (GBR), was similarly pleased with the team's performance on the Swan 441. 'Getting through the tidal gate at Ocean Safety was crucial today, and our team work was what got us round. Andy [CASSELL (GBR), the helmsman] said it was holding out the genoa to catch that extra bit of wind that made the difference. It was that close.'

However, topping the leaderboard of Group A after two races is Libby DEEGAN's Swan 46 Mk II Akarana, with Jo RICHARDS providing tactical input. Despite her late start, Jacobite holds second spot ahead of Swan 48 Elan and Cuor di Leone. In Group B, series leader after two races is Richard BALDING's Swan 41 Philippides, ahead of Swan 47 Sleeper and Swan 44 Selene.

While Groups A and B were racing in the western Solent, the fleet of 11 Swan 45s were battling away on a windward/leeward course near Hill Head on the mainland side of the Solent. With three races completed, the day belonged to Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (WISC), Glynn WILLIAMS' (GBR) team showing a great ability to gain places as well as maintain a lead. Nigel BRAMWELL made a great start to his Swan 45 career, helming Hawk into a lead in the first race, although he nearly lost it to WISC in the closing seconds of the final run to the finish. Hawk just held off WISC for the win. In the next heat, Keith MILLER (GBR) sailed Crackerjack out to a comfortable lead and won by 40 seconds, but again it was WISC that claimed second place, ahead of Hawk. The wind built to ten knots for the final race and Pieter BRINKMAN's McFly was the early leader, but this time was caught by WISC who finally got the victory that they had been threatening in the previous heats.

WILLIAMS commented, 'We sailed really well and the boat's performing well. In the second race, we had a poor start and had to really dig ourselves out from the middle of the fleet. We were in the right place for the wind and the tide, and were first to the first mark despite our bad start.' WISC is looking like a tough act to beat in these early stages of the regatta.

Today's long race scheduled for Classes A and B has been postponed. The warning signal for these classes is now scheduled to 1020 hours local time.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Artemis, Swan 60.1 and Zingala, Swan 56 :© Kurt Arrigo/Rolex
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