Paul WINKELMANN'S Swan 60 Island Fling won the S.Pellegrino Race Day, the first day of racing for the 54 strong Swan fleet at the 2003 Swan European Regatta. One of a handful of regatta's using the ISAF Sailor Classification Code.
Winkelmann and his crew sailed away from the fleet at the beginning of the race to take line honours, Class honours and overall winner of the day on corrected time.
A forecasted force 4-5 with a clear blue sky enabled the Swan European Regatta to get underway in perfect conditions for some great racing. With the fleet split into two classes, according to Nautor's own rating system, racing commenced under two starts with the larger boats in class A and the smaller boats in Class B. A 25-mile course for Class A and a 20 mile course for Class B was laid out, testing the crews ability to cope with the emerging tides and numerous obstacles that the Solent provides.
Damon Guizot's Swan 53, Katrina crossed the start line first in Class A, but was almost immediately overtaken by Island Fling who showed all the experience and finesse gained after many years of competitive sailing. It became clear from the start that Island Fling was going to be hard to catch up, as the Swan 45s closed ranks behind and sailed almost in formation towards to the first mark. Island Fling rounded the mark 10 minutes ahead of the rest of the fleet, who were battling with the strong tide on
approach. Flilp Balcaen's Swan 56, Aqua Equinox, which has Nautor Challenge crew member Boewe Bekking on board, rounded the mark closely and just ahead of the Swan 45 pack and Ed Leask's Swan 56 Magical. The gap increased between Island Fling and eventual second placed Aqua Equinox, resulting in a 15-minute lead around the third and final mark and an impressive finish some way ahead of the fleet.
Winkelmann commented on the need to gain such a distance on his competitors: "Being a handicap event we are having to chase the clock all the time. We were a long way ahead, but unfortunately due to our rating we need to keep this distance throughout the week. We certainly started as we mean to go on!"
He continued: "The crew has sailed together regularly on another Swan 60 and I have borrowed them for this event. It's an interesting challenge getting everyone working together smoothly!
"We have been to every Swan event, other than the US regattas, since I bought her in 2000. I first bought a Swan having sailed one in 1988. I was impressed with the boat and really liked the whole Swan scene and the level playing field created by the unique Swan rating."
In Class B, Stephen James' hugely successful Swan 48 Jacobite recovered well from the general recall at the start, due to the majority of the fleet crossing the line ahead of the gun, to take the lead. As with Class A, tides played a major role and forced the fleet to take a line close to the mainland resulting in some clever tactics to get them around the first mark without being pushed onto it. Again Jacobite took the lead, closely followed by two Swan 44s Menenes and Saga, both of which achieved second and third place respectively in the small boat class in 2001. Jacobite managed to increase the lead to guarantee first place in the class.
Ben James, co-owner with his father, highlighted the importance of being at the top: "To win we have to be first around the course due to our rating but it was still good close racing. We made half a mistake and Menenes looked like they had it on us and then they would make a mistake and we got it back again!
"But I think that the best way to win a regatta like this is to keep trying to get a podium position - you don't have to win every day but you have to be in the frame every day. This is exactly what we intend to do," he added.
The S.Pellegrino Race Day Prizegiving was held in the Regatta Bar in Cowes Yacht Haven, with trophies presented to the podium positions for both classes by Nautor's Sales Director Mr Tom Blomgren and to the overall winner of the day, by S. Pellegrino UK Director, Mr Bill Dick.
Tomorrow will be the Bvlgari Race Day, with the fleet testing their pure racing skills with two windward/leeward courses, starting at 10.30am off the Royal Yacht Squadron line. After the day's racing, owners will be treated to a Bvlgari Cocktail Reception and Buffet Dinner held at the Royal Yacht Squadron.
The Swan European Regatta forms part of the world renowned Nautor's Swan Racing Calendar which spans the globe with events specifically designed to provide Swan owners with the excitement of competitive racing and wide range of social events. In addition the Swan European Regatta, this year's programme will include the Swan American Regatta in Newport, Rhode Island, which is run from 27th July to 2nd August 2003.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.