In excess of 120 boats and over 500 crews and volunteers are assembling for Cowes Classics Week with racing starting on Monday 27th June.
Fourteen classes will compete for a grand assembly of Royal London Yacht Club trophies and they’re expected to be hotly contested. Both windward/leeward and round-the-cans racing is organised on four race circuits, all sponsored by GJW Direct.
The largest class is again the X One Designs with last year’s winners Fraser Graham and John Tremlett from Itchenor competing in Astralita. Hard on their heels will be Roger Yeoman in Xcitation, also from Itchenor and Paul Woodman in Lone Star from Lymington, a previous winner.
In the Daring metre boats Giles Peckham, last year’s winner in Dauntless, will have Graham Wilkinson and John Corby in Doublet to contend with and Sir Richard Ottaway now racing Debutante, all from Cowes.
The Swallows from Itchenor will be out with a good fleet. Charles Hyatt and Mike Wigmore in Gwaihir, Harry Roome in Skua and Andy Fitzgerald, Commodore of Itchenor Sailing Club in Swift, originally a gold medal winning boat in the 1948 Olympics, will all be vying for the trophies.
Other fleets of dayboats from around the Solent include the Squibs from Fishbourne, Flying Fifteens from Cowes, Mermaids from Seaview and the Victorys from Portsmouth. This year is the one-hundredth anniversary of the launch of the first one-design Mermaid class and two of these beautiful yachts, owned by Michael Randall and Richard Hill, will be racing in the Classic Dayboat class.
Competing in Divisions 1 and 2 are the 1937 Johan Anker designed flush-decker Bojar owned by Mark Dowie and a scattering of Sparkman and Stephens designs including a number of Swans and for the first time a 34 owned by Dafydd Hughes. Charm of Rhu, a Fife 8m cruiser racer owned by Martin Thomas, RLYC’s Commodore, will compete against Fenton Burgin’s 6mR Sioma and Claire Locke’s West Solent One Design Enchanted, recently returned from Palma.
The Folkboats will be racing in Division 3 with similarly rated yachts such as the Twisters, SCOD, Tumlare, the H-boat Warrior and the smaller Alacrity 19 Ipqu-Aya which they will need to watch.
Warm welcomes are extended to Richard Haines’ 1898 Essex Oyster Smack Alberta, down from Brightlingsea and competing in the Old Gaffers class, and Marc Antoine d’Halluin’s Ile de Re built Tofinou 9.7 Aldebaran in the Spirit of Tradition class.
Special prizes include a Concours d’Elegance trophy, a New Helm trophy and a “Spirit of Cowes Classics Week” trophy which was won last year by Richard Cubitt for a wonderful impromptu late-night session on the piano. New this year is the David Gower Bowl for the crew with the youngest average age and the organisers are hoping many young crews will step forward to lay claim to this one.
The shoreside activity starts on Sunday 26th June as fifty classic cars assemble in front of the RLYC clubhouse for Cowes Classics Day. Despite the popularity of this regatta, now in its 15th year, competitors are still able to enjoy a very welcoming, club-based social program throughout the week. This includes tea & cakes after racing, daily prize-givings and evening meals, all based at the RLYC and the other yacht clubs in Cowes.