Today’s (Tuesday 12 July 2016) racing in Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week got off to a cracking start on the Solent as all classes competed to be the overall winner of the Winkworth Cup. Every type of weather presented itself through the day from sunshine to severe rain, and windless holes to the 35 knot gust witnessed in the Daring fleet.
Today was the opening of four days of racing for the Tempest class who are using Cowes Classics as their 2016 World Championship. Competitors came from Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria as well as Ullswater in the UK. “The fleet is very competitive,” reported Klaus Wende, who was racing his Tempest at Cowes for the first time. The one-time Flying Dutchman world champion from Bavaria competed in the three races today, but was forced to retire from the third race when they were holed by a fellow countryman on the start line. “Shifting winds meant that at the last minute we could barely cross the start line on starboard, and many in the fleet flipped onto port. We stayed on starboard but were holed on the port side.” He added, “It has been a great challenge to learn the tides here – where we sail there are no currents! But the top people still win.” Leading after the first day is Frank Weigelt in Holzwurm with a 1st and two 3rds.
Threatening skies and a few squally showers in the middle of the day did not get in the way of enabling the four committee boats along the north Solent shore in the Hill Head area, to get all their scheduled races away, with plenty of space for the ten keelboat classes.
Sharing a start were the majestic 6 metre and 8 metre classes, a truly classic representation of yachts built between 1926 and 1947, who were first away in their flights. Following behind came the 14 Darings, the majority of which were built in the 1960s and 70s, and who are well used to sailing as a tight fleet. Daring number 4, Roger Marwood’s 1961-built Audax defied the rest of the fleet with a port end start giving them an edge up the first beat but it was John Corby in Doublet who went on to win the two races of the day. “It was a challenging day for us, particularly in the second race,” said Magnus Wheatley of Destroyer. Race two was around fixed Solent marks and Magnus found it “particularly interesting when we temporarily lost our backstay and the 35 knot gust rolled through!”
The sight of 50 XODs on a start line is always spectacular, and today did not disappoint. Keen and competitive, two tightly fought races saw the lead change on a number of occasions but wins eventually went to Roger Yeomans’ Xcitation and Michael O’Donnel’s Lightwood. “There were plenty of windshifts and changes in wind strength,” reported Rory Paton who scored a 10th and 3rd in XL. Rory and his crew led convincingly on the final leg of the second race but struggled to get to the finish line on a wind shift and had to settle for third place.
Four Vintage Dragons, entered as a class for the first time in the event, shared a start and course with the Flying Fifteens, who indeed flew around the course - and the National Swallows. Tight racing amongst them all characterised the day, with a win each for Mark Dowie’s Dragon Wanderer and Mike Wigmore’s Swallow Gwaihir. Likewise the Loch Longs and the blue hulled Bembridge One Designs also raced together, and the Squib class made a special one day only appearance today at the Cowes Classics. Easily spotted by their brown sails and small spinnakers, the day belonged to Andrew Porteous and his Firecracker Too with two firsts.
Cruiser classes which included the S&S Swans, Old Gaffers and SCODs raced over a longer Solent course. Race Officer Derek Hodd sent them on one long course of beats to the west and runs to the east using the mid-Solent fixed marks. “We saw a mixture of conditions with light airs towards the end,” he said. Competitors reported having a brilliant day. “This is the first year we were eligible to enter and apart from some a very heavy rain storm we had a very good race,” reported Jonathan Wallis, owner of 1969 built Swan 36 Sheevra. “We had a good battle with Sunmaid V (built 1967).” In the same race area the oldest boat in the fleet, Hal Sisk’s Peggy Baun, which is a staggering 122 years old, won the Old Gaffers class.
The Classic Cruisers use the KLR Formula handicapping system which originated in Germany in 1994, and is favoured by traditional cruising yachts.
Racing is organised by the Royal London Yacht Club with support from Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Cowes, Island Sailing Club and Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club.
The plan is to get a series of eight races in between now and Friday when the event finishes.
The Organisers are grateful to all the sponsors. Cowes Classics Week 2017 will take place 17 to 21 July 2017.
- ends -
Photo credits; Jake Sugden.
Media enquiries and image requests:
Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week Press Officer
Clearline Communications Ltd
Telephone: 07774 623 539