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21 June 2005, 11:18 am
Early Win For The Italians At Cowes
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Rolex Swan European Regatta 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

The 760 sailors who have arrived for the Rolex Swan European Regatta in Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain must be wondering if they have come to the right country. The weather is more St. Tropez than Cowes, but no one is complaining. A record entry of 67 teams from nine countries look set to enjoy French Riviera conditions for their forthcoming week of racing and socializing.
In a friendly warm up before the main event which begins tomorrow, two Swan 601s enjoyed a close match race in sight of the Royal Yacht Squadron today. Peter OGDEN's (GBR) Spirit of Jethou lined up against Leonardo FERRAGAMO's (ITA) brand new and untested Cuordileone. With America's Cup helmsman Andy BEADSWORTH (GBR) calling tactics for FERRAGAMO, the Italian boat gained the upper hand in the pre-start and led off the line. However a poor gybe-set saw them give a three-boatlength lead away to the British 601, who led down the run and up the next beat. However an equally fraught gybe-set by Jethou allowed Cuordileone back into the race and the Italians won.

BEADSWORTH said he enjoyed his first race aboard the 601. 'There was plenty of power there, good acceleration, and I think we can look forward to a good week.' As a new boat, however, BEADSWORTH knows they will have a tough time beating the three other 601s gathered for this event, the British boat Island Fling and Artemis from Sweden.

This regatta always brings together a healthy mix of professional sailors and keen amateurs. Adrian STEAD (GBR), a former Olympian and America's Cup tactician, is calling the shots for Stuart ROBINSON's Swan 70 Stay Calm, the largest boat in the fleet. STEAD has high hopes of doing well this week, although for him the Swan 601s are an unknown quantity. 'The 601s are very fast boats, not much slower than us, so we may have our work cut out just winning line honours this week, never mind what we can do on handicap,' commented STEAD. 'But we're here to have fun too. We've got a lot of Stuart's friends and family with us, and a few boys from GBR Challenge.'

One of STEAD's former America's Cup colleagues is Ian BUDGEN (GBR), working as a trimmer on Stay Calm this week. BUDGEN has just completed the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge on the Swan 70, so he knows the boat better than most. After the torrid conditions encountered during that 16 day crossing, BUDGEN is looking forward to a change of pace in the lighter conditions being predicted for the Solent this week. 'It should be a little more relaxing, but in other ways it is more hectic,' BUDGEN pointed out. 'For the transatlantic we had just ten on board, but now we have 18 to 20 this week because you need lots of hands for the many manoeuvres we'll be doing.'

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the oldest and smallest boat in the fleet, the Swan 36 Carte Blanche, which has competed in every Rolex Swan European Regatta since 1985. Owners Jem and Mor TETLEY admit they are not as sprightly as once they were, but the prospect of meeting up with old friends is too tempting for them to stay away. Carte Blanche is the third Nautor's Swan ever constructed, and when she was built in the late 60s the revolutionary Sparkman & Stephens' design was unstoppable. The TETLEYS bought her in 1970 and have enjoyed their fair share of success and adventure aboard Carte Blanche, although Jem admits he does not like to push her too hard these days. 'If the wind blows too hard we won't be using spinnakers, because I don't like to stress her too much these days. But we should have a good race with the other two 36s.'

Arguably the toughest and closest racing might come from the eleven boats gathered for the one-design Swan 45 division. Another GBR Challenge helmsman Andy GREEN (GBR) is calling tactics on board Belgian owner Bernard LAMBILLIOTTE's Nemo, along with Simon SHAW (GBR) on mainsheet. SHAW has only just returned from Italy, where he was the winning navigator at the Giraglia Rolex Cup. 'Maybe we will lead some races this week,' said SHAW, 'but as a new team we have to be realistic about our chances of overall victory. There are some really good, well practised teams here and when things get close that experience will come into play.'

The Rolex Swan European Regatta takes place in Cowes from 19-25 June 2005. There are 27 different Swan models competing at the regatta, which is hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron. The first race was due to start on Monday morning at 1020 hours local time.

Event Media. Image, Onboard Spirit of Jethou:© Kurt Arrigo/Rolex
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