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The Solent looked like a patchwork of mini sailing events as the Cowes Classics Regatta started in earnest today (Tuesday 22 July). Classes were divided between four separate committee boats which lined themselves up like a naval barricade at intervals along the mid-Solent. After yesterday’s one-off Trinity Cup the points for the rest of the 4-day series now start to count.

Each committee took charge of their allotted classes of which there were nine between them, choosing to use fixed windward leeward courses, whose first leg took the yachts to the north shore close to Hill head, in the light but changeable north westerly breeze. On this, the Haines Boatyard Race Day, the classes comprised the Bembridge One Designs, Old Gaffers XODs, National Swallows, Solent Sunbeams, Flying Fifteens, 8 metres and Darings.

First off after a short postponement were the four majestic 8 metres, with Scott Comben’s immaculate Saskia marking out a clear initial lead but it was Christopher Courage’s Helen which went on to win both races of the day.

The elegant Daring Class described by their Race Officer, Peter Dickson as “very orderly and evenly spread along the line” followed behind, enjoying a very challenging race in winds shifting as much as 30 degrees, causing numerous place changes. Andrew Pearson’s Dashing took advantage of clear air to get a good lead up the first beat but after several others claiming the lead Roger Marwood’s Audax moved into pole position, then it was the turn of Kim Orchard’s Dancer at the approach to the leeward mark. The eventual first win went to Decanter, sailed by David Walters. Similar conditions in the day’s Race 2 gave a win to Kim Orchard’s Dancer.

Two other classes, the Slow and Fast divisions of the Classic Cruisers were meanwhile further west. With just one race a day in their programme, their Race Officer Derek Hodd sent them off on the tide on six and nine mile courses respectively followed by several cross-Solent legs, and the tide, once turned, helping them home again to minimise light wind frustrations. Three South Coast One Designs – all built in the ‘50s and ‘60s - Stephen Brookson’s Firecracker, Mark Taylor’s Marbella and Jake Tairi’s Stirling enjoyed close quarters racing, despite Firecracker breaking her spinnaker pole, but it was Brian Haugh’s 1957 Buchanan Cherete which eventually triumphed on handicap.

The Classic Cruisers use the KLR Formula handicapping system which originated in Germany in 1994, and is favoured by traditional cruising yachts.

8mR-Tuesday-2014Winning crew member on Martin and Vicky Jones’s Swallow Swift, Robert Bellfield summed up the challenges of the day. With two wins today under their belt he explained “We just about managed to keep our lead during both races but there was a constant threat from behind on the downwind legs as puffs of stronger and shifting wind kept bringing more of the fleet up from the rear.”

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Photo credits; Daring at top by Tim Jeffreys and 8 metre below by Jake Sugden.

Regatta results can be found here

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