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24 June 2005, 12:07 pm
No Wind Allows Time For Swan Reflection
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Rolex Swan European Regatta 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

More hot weather but a lack of wind gave sailors a chance to reflect on the racing at the Rolex Swan European Regatta in Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain this week. Holding the top of the leaderboard for Group A after three races is Swan 46 MkII Akarana, owned by Graham and Libby DEEGAN.
Libby DEEGAN, who steers Akarana, said it was 'a pleasant surprise' to be leading a regatta in which she and her husband have finished second a number of times before.

Graham DEEGAN said it helped to have Jo RICHARDS (GBR), an Olympic bronze medallist, providing tactical input. Not only that, but RICHARDS is a local. 'In fact I think pretty much everyone on board is a member of Gurnard Sailing Club,' RICHARDS pointed out. 'It helps to know what's going on in these waters, and I think people are beginning to follow us. Certainly, Jacobite never lets us far out of their sight.'

Jacobite is the Swan 48 breathing down their necks in second place overall, with nine points to Akarana's six. Jacobite is a fearsome performer on handicap and she has won two of the three races to date. In the other race, she was over the line early and still picked up a respectable seventh place, even after taking four minutes to return over the line against an adverse tide.

Ironically, it was RICHARDS who helped rescue a much neglected Swan 48 and worked with owner Stephen JAMES to restore her to the far more polished state that Jacobite is in today. It was a restoration that on most days makes RICHARDS proud, but on weeks like this he admits to feeling a tinge of regret. 'Intellectually, it's very satisfying to see her doing so well,' he smiled, 'but when you see her sailing through your lee and out the other side, there is a part of you that wishes things hadn't worked out so well.'

With three races sailed, and two days of racing yet to go, it would suit Akarana for the discard not to come in. Yachts in Groups A and B are allowed to discard their worst score after five races have been completed, but with the high pressure system continuing to sit over the south coast of Great Britain, it is touch and go as to whether the Royal Yacht Squadron will be able to run a full complement of races.

Jacobite's helmsman John BRINKERS (GBR) is certainly hoping for the discard to kick in, after his aberration on the start line two days ago. 'I put the boat over the line, I misjudged the strength of the tide, and it took us a long time to get back to restart. So I hope we get the chance to discard that result. Our friends on Akarana are sailing very well, so we're under some pressure to perform for the rest of the week. We would like stronger winds, but I don't see that's very likely. I think we're looking at more of the same conditions.'

Recent years have seen Richard BALDING compete aboard his Swan 60 Fenix, but he has brought his Swan 41 Philippides II back to Great Britain after a 20 year gap. The last time this Swan 41 took part in the Rolex Swan European Regatta was in 1985, but she has made a triumphant return to the competition in 2005, leading Class B with nine points after three races.

BALDING is very happy, but not overly surprised by his team's performance to date. 'We went well in the JPMorgan Round the Island Race on the weekend, so we knew we were in with a chance. We spent some money getting the bottom polished at the beginning of the season, which I imagine must help, and as a team we've been together for ten years or so. We've got some good Solent sailors who know these waters well, which is also a great advantage.'

After six races in the Swan 45 one designs, Glynn WILLIAMS' (GBR) Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (WISC) leads Fever by just a point, with Nemo of Cowes five points further back, in third place overall.

Yesterday evening, ClubSwan hosted a gala dinner for Swan owners and guests in the enchanting setting of Osborne House. This is one of the highlights of the week's social programme, an opportunity for guests to share their stories of on the water combat and enjoy the Spirit of Swan. Guest members attending will include sailing star Paul CAYARD (USA) and naval architect German FRERS, designer of the SwanLine. CAYARD will also be joining forces with Olympic Sailor Andy BEADSWORTH (GBR) tomorrow onboard Leonardo FERRAGAMO's Swan 601, adding strength to an already formidable crew on Cuor di Leone.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Fever is just one point off the Swan 45 one design lead:© Kurt Arrigo/Rolex
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