The opening Winkworth Race Day of the 10th Charles Stanley Direct Cowes Classics Week witnessed a huge mixture of fortunes in today’s (Monday) light airs which saw winds constantly shifting, presenting a mixture of fortunes across the competing fleets.
Andrew Pearson’s wooden 10 metre yacht Bojar, which is 80 years old this year, was today’s winner of ‘Classic Yacht Red 1’ class which sailed a mid-Solent course, starting out, as did the other three Classic Cruiser classes, on the east going tide from the Royal London Yacht Club’s shore line off the Parade at Cowes. After rounding the first couple of marks the yachts were faced with a long run against the tide back to Gurnard where the race was eventually shortened. A gybing duel between Ted Fort’s modern classic Tofinou 9.5 Pippa and Firebrand a one off Sparkman & Stevens 43 owned by Ramona-Ann Gale, was taking place behind Bojar (pictured right) but as the trio crossed Cowes Roads the latter’s heavy displacement meant it was prudent to briefly kedge to prevent her drifting backwards and the lighter modern design of Pippa enabled her to ghost past, as did Firebrand. But Bojar’s delay didn’t dent her performance on corrected time although her win didn’t come easily. “We had everything up and down today including the anchor” reported her tactician Nick Ryley, summarising many of the experiences of the Classic Cruiser division.
Wins in the other cruiser classes went to SCOD Adelie in the ‘Green’ class, Nordic Folkboat The Otter, in the Folkboat class, Contessa 26 Jiminy Cricket in the ‘Blue’ class and Sunmaid V in the ‘Red II’ class.
The day did not turn out quite as planned for the much anticipated celebration of the Flying Fifteens’ 70th anniversary race. The Uffa Fox designed keelboat, which first appeared in 1947, was the first off the start line this morning, but as Race Officer Derek Hodd explained “The wind that was forecast didn’t arrive until later in the day moving between easterly and northerly, finally settling back into the east.” Although the wind did kick in eventually it was too late for the 28-strong Flying Fifteen class, which suffered from the morning’s light winds - even a delay caused by a general recall of their first start did nothing to improve their chances of a better breeze. The first leg was full of promise for Justin Waples’ Sparks and Bubbles Take Two which accelerated fast away from the start to lead to the first mark, followed closely by Richard Triffitt’s Triffs , but the decreasing wind left the fleet struggling on the long downwind leg against the tide. One by one decisions were made to retire, with the last to give in being Campbell Alexander’s Durban Flyer. The day still needed to be celebrated so the anniversary trophy, the Queen Victoria Jubilee Cup, was awarded, with unanimous approval, to Durban Flyer’s South African crew. Like all the other classes the Flying Fifteens have four more days of racing to look forward to so a chance to put in some results.
Fortune smiled more kindly on the rest of the classes which took part in an all-comers Pursuit Race today. Not part of the four day series for these classes which starts tomorrow, the one-off race was postponed for a short while but got underway in the early afternoon in a more promising breeze. A few minutes separated the competing classes, which included the XODs, Swallows, Solent Sunbeams and Darings along entries from the Tempest and Vintage Dragon class and two of the competing 8 metres. “The planned 90 minutes race was just right,” said David Priscott, competing on XOD Thora. “It was incredibly close right from the half way point – after the front runners got away, the rest of the fleet was very tight. Those of us in the fleet who spotted some wind right up on the shore on the first beat really helped us to get ahead.” Gaining and maintaining a lead for much of the race, XOD 64 Michael O’Donnell’s Lightwood held on but was finally pipped just a couple of yards from the finish by Solent Sunbeam Jabberwocky which had worked hard at Lightwood’s heels to gain victory.
With today’s racing complete the Classic Cruiser classes already have a race under their belts but for the rest of the fleets tomorrow is the start of the four day series. The X One Design, 43 strong will dominate the skyline in the mid Solent tomorrow (Tuesday) while more than a dozen each of the Flying Fifteens and Solent Sunbeams will race from committee boat lines as well as the 8 metres, Bembridge One Designs and Swallows. The Vintage Dragon numbers have grown to seven this year as more are being restored and the class is likely to grow further. The Seaview Mermaids and National Squibs will be appearing for one day each too.
The organising club, the Royal London Yacht Club, is supported by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club and Island Sailing Club. The famous RLYC tea parties are once again being held every afternoon and there’s a full programme of evening events.
Charles Stanley Direct Cowes Classics Week is grateful to supporting sponsors Haines Boatyard, Winkworth, Harken, Red Funnel, Cowes Harbour Commission, Kendalls Fine Art and Classic Boat magazine. The organisers are delighted to welcomes Henri Lloyd for the first time, who has brought along a ‘pop up shop’ of clothing for sale to competitors.
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Photo credits; Rick Tomlinson.
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