The 50 strong XOD class experienced every bit of the lottery that was thrown at the fleet on the third day of Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week. While the first beat of their second race of the day – the first race was abandoned - turned to a run for some, others who had tacked across to the windward mark layline found themselves fetching in from a different direction. A certain amount of chaos built up at the mark and amongst yachts already on the leg to the spreader leg.
The thirteen classes in the Cowes Classics Week were divided up amongst committee boats across the mid-Solent in a very frustrating day of starts and stops, and a wind direction which moved through 180 degrees and up and down from zero to 15 knots.
“The problem was a good wind going bad”, summarised David Bedford, crewing for Paul Kelsey on X52 Anitra. “It was a real lottery”. Conditions, however, suited Paul Woodman and his crew on X32 Ibex, first across the line.
The race officers across the courses grappled with abandonments and re-starts, and were relieved that at the end of the day all classes had achieved at least one race, and some managed two.
The Winkworth and Royal Victoria Race day started in a soft but promising breeze with all classes getting a start. However a decision was made to abandon the majority after less than an hour of racing to wait for better conditions. This included the Cruiser Class, whose Fast and Slow Divisions have a programme of Solent racing around the cans. “As the only classes to start from the Royal London Yacht Club’s fixed line we could only send them to windward north easterly against the tide,” explained the class Race Officer Derek Hodd, “so when the wind ran out we abandoned, and waited for the tide to turn favourable whilst hoping the wind would come back in.” His team finally set a short course at 2pm but prudently shortened at the first mark, Rolly Tasker, after 56 minutes of racing, before the strengthening flood threatened to prevent the fleet from getting back to the line on a downwind leg.
The oldest yacht in the entire 150-strong Classics fleet, Mignon, was amongst them. Built in 1898, she is sailed by a team from Lymington including co-owner Barry Dunning “Our only option was to stay into the Island shore to catch the first of the turning tide which gave us a bit more breeze too,” he said. The move paid off for Mignon putting them into second place, only beaten by the seemingly unbeatable Jonty Sherwill’s 1926-built Cockleshell.
For one day only the National Squib class, numbering seven, and designed half a century ago, made the trip from their home base in Wootton Creek to the start line. They were lucky to achieve a result from just a windward leg in the morning’s race, and after a long postponement, while the committee boat looked enviously at a bigger wind that was holding to the north of their position, completed an afternoon course which gave them enough breeze to get a windward leg and a final leg which took them back to their home port where they finished, led by Andrew Porteous’s Firecracker Too.
The 8 metre class also benefitted from a temporarily increased breeze on their second start, giving them a good windward and leeward course, followed off the same line by the Daring class. “We just managed to get them across the finish line on a final leg back towards Cowes,” said a relieved race officer Peter Dickson. Deserving wins in the Daring class were shared between Charles Perry on Defiant and Magnus Wheatley on Destroyer.
The Swallow, Sunbeam and Flying Fifteen classes similarly suffered from an abandoned first start on their line where Race Officer Rod Nicholls described the wind as “going round in circles.” But they went on to complete a windward leeward course, to count towards the week’s points in a series that ends on Friday.
Thanks go to supporting sponsors Hudson Wight, Harken, Haines Boatyard, Winkworth, Cowes Harbour Commission, nms Adaptive, Kendalls, The Yachting Studio, and Classic Boat Magazine.
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Photo credits; Loch Long at top and Daring below by Tim Jeffreys.
Regatta results can be found here
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