Filip BALCAEN'S Swan 56, Aqua Equinox, proved to be the boat to beat in the 2003 Swan European Regatta by taking line honours and winning Class A, holding on to the top spot on the leader board with three races to go in this five day regatta.
However, this victory was not enough to keep one of the smallest boats in the fleet, John MCINTYRE'S Swan 36 Shaytana from snatching overall winner of the day.
David ROSS, helm on Shaytana shares his tactics for the day: "What happened today evolved around the serious changes in weather. It started off very light and we were near the back of the fleet approaching the forts, then the wind swung round and we managed a gain a few places on the spinnaker legs. We took advantage of the second wind shift at Bembridge Ledge, compared to other smaller boats, improving our position all the time. We used the bigger boats ahead to give us a gauge of the wind and an indication of the best route to take - this definitely helped."
Ross added: "This is a great result for us today - we are just a crew made up of purely amateur sailors all from RAF Brize Norton. We've never sailed together before Sunday!"
Both classes started early this morning off the Royal Yacht Squadron line, after a decision made by the Race Committee to change the planned Round the Island Race to two separate courses set towards the Nab Tower, East of the Solent. It was a slow Spinnaker start with very light winds of 5-6 knots, at times dropping to virtually nothing. The Swan 45's yet again rose to the challenge of light airs as Keith MILLER'S, Crackerjack, crossed the line first ahead of Aqua Equinox and the only Russian entry, Swan 48 Murka. Paul WINKELMANN'S Swan 60 Island Fling made a valiant attempt to get out in front, but was hampered by the conditions and the superior boat speed of the Swan 45's. The dominant Swan 60 was never able to recover as a runner broke, off Bembridge Ledge forcing her to retire.
In Class B the battle continued between Stephen JAMES' Swan Jacobite and Libby DEEGAN'S Swan 441 Menenes. At the start, Jacobite found herself hemmed in at the Squadron end of the line and overtaken by the majority of the fleet, however this minor set back didn't stop this well raced Swan from gaining ground and eventually joining Menenes and Alan FOULQUIER'S Swan 441 Saga at the front of the fleet as they made their way East along the Solent towards Bembridge Ledge.
As the front runners in Class A rounded the Nab Tower and made their way back up the course, Aqua Equinox and Graham de ZILLE'S Swan 45 Amnesia had managed to separate themselves from the fleet by 10 minutes thanks to the breeze filling in to 10-12 knots. This advantage was maintained as they tackled the sprint legs on their way back to The Royal Yacht Squadron finish line, with Aqua Equinox taking line honours just ahead of Amnesia.
In Class B, Jacobite yet again proved her racing prowess by pulling away from Menenes after six and half hours of sailing to cross the finish line first, but suffered against the better rating awarded to Shaytana when it came to winning the class.
As crews come off the water they will be able replenish their spent energy with some authentic Italian Pasta, courtesy of regatta partners, S. Pellegrino, as part of their daily hospitality here in race village.
Tomorrow, the penultimate day of the regatta will be the Talisker Race Day, with both classes scheduled to run two windward/leeward races starting at 10.30am. Owners and crews will be keen to get of the water as soon as possible in order to take full advantage of the Talisker Whisky Tasting and the Talisker Scottish Ceilidh, a highlight in Nautor's action packed social calendar for this event.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.