Scorching weather and good breeze make for a great weekend's Solent sailing
Competitors at this year’s Skandia Cowes Week couldn’t have asked for better conditions this weekend, as a good breeze and strong sunshine saw fleets pack the Solent and crowds line the Parade to watch the flag officers hoist and lower ensigns, cannon firers discharge their guns and Sea Cadets raise the course boards.
Boats flooded over their respective startlines – too eagerly, in some cases, with dozens of the 98-strong SB3 fleet OCS on Saturday, and a general recall in Class 5 IRC. After completing the 20nm course, Cowes regular Harry Evans, the man who supplies the millions of plastic beer glasses to Cowes Yacht Haven each year, had his paws on the Class 5 Victory Trophy after taking both line honours and victory on corrected time in his Swan 48 Alvine Jacobite.
In Class 6 IRC, there was mayhem at the start as a few boats were forced the wrong side of Alpha Buoy and had to turn around. These included the beautiful 8m Athena, campaigned by David Glasgow and The Earl of Cork and Orrery. Two Sigma 38s flew protest flags and Vanilla, Niek Spiljard’s X332 that won on Saturday, was forced to retire.
Down the Western Solent, the Class 1 IRC fleet drifted around in the zephyrs for an hour on Sunday and Benny Kelly’s TP52 Panthera was forced to suspend her racing for 20 minutes to unravel the Committee Vessel’s anchor line from their keel. When the breeze kicked in, the fleet enjoyed a good tussle though officials shortened the course when the wind flunked out leaving Saturday’s line honours winner Loki at the front. However, Sir Peter Ogden’s Swan 601 Spirit of Jethou skippered by Volvo 70 sailor Ian Budgen remains at the top of the leaderboard for the second consecutive day.
Drama hit late in the day when XOD Josephine was dismasted in a collision with the Tall Ship J. R. Tolkein, a 42m gaff-topsail schooner. Her bowsprit ripped out the X-boat’s backstay, leaving a buckled shroud and the boat needing a new mast.
Monday’s forecast should provide interesting racing amongst the 978 boats as squally showers pass through the Solent with a south-westerly breeze of up to 20 knots. Full results are posted on the Skandia Cowes Week website every day at www.skandiacowesweek.com