All photos © Richard Langdon / Ocean Images
A relatively windy week, with mainly windward work against the tide. The entry of 22 was 10% up on last year's 75th anniversary fleet making it 3rd equal biggest one design class at Cowes this year.
There were a few new boats and crews, as well young helms Matt Thomas aged 16 and University student Tom Taylor producing creditable results in Zarena Z68, the best being Tom's second on Wednesday. The oldest boat was Kestrel Z6 owned by Phil Parnell with his brother Adrian and Edward Younghusband which was the first Portsmouth built Victory launched in 1934, the previous five being converted from the Bembridge One design boats.
At the other end of the fleet Mark Dennington's Z78 Ziva, the most recent development from David Heritage Racing Yachts of Cowes was launched only two weeks before the event as the sixth GRP composite boat.
As in previous years, John Tremlett helming Jeremy Lear's Z 69 dominated the fleet with firsts in all but one race, when they were 3rd. As well as the week, this also means that they have become the overall winners more times (13) than any other boat. They were also placed third in the Overall White Group Trophy.
Behind them the placings were hotly contested with the next six boats separated by only 7 points and the 2nd and 3rd places were not decided until the final race.
Geoff and Sarah Dixon's Z54 Zelia sailed consistently all week to a well deserved second place with 21 points. Z76 Zest owned by Kim and Sally Taylor and Will Bancroft was third on 23 points and the first of the six new GRP composite boats competing.
The John Hunter Pot for the “silver fleet” competition went to Hugh and Philippa Pringle's Z58 Zephyr helmed by John Scammell.
For full results see the Victory Class website www.victoryclass.org.uk
Individual race reports
Race 1 - 8-14 Wly. The first of the west going tide took the fleet into Gurnard Bay then on the run from Royal Thames the first five boats passed in front of huge tanker in the Southampton Channel which effectively split the fleet. Clive Cokayne's Z50 Zara had an early lead but was overhauled downwind by Zinnia Z69, the eventual winner. Z76 Zest passed Z67 Zircon (Gareth Penn) and then Z50 on the run to get a second. Z78 Ziva won the “split fleet” race from Z70 Unity (Graham Stone) and Z54 Zelia
Race 2 - In similar conditions but an wholly adverse tide, the tack up the green was lead by Z69 Zinnia from Z50 Zara and a chasing pack of Z's 54, 78, 49 and then 57 and 76. There were few passing lanes on the one sided beats but Z57 Variety (Janet Dee), showing upwind speed throughout the week, pulled through to 3rd. Z78 Ziva with a slipping forestay held on to 4th.
Race 3 - Racing abandoned - “nuff” said.
Race 4 - A bit more wind from the SW- Another “tack up the green” day, lead by Z69 Zinnia followed by a group 57,78,54,76,58,50 which remained close together for the second long beat. Positions were changing frequently but by the windward mark Z54 was ahead and pulled away on the kite reach and final beat to the finish second ahead of Z57 Variety.
Race 5 - A Force 5-6 with rain was forecast. After a long kite reach to the Lee on Solent shore, the fleet were still bunched together but on the way back west Z50 Zara and Z68 Zarena took the Island shore route in the flatter water. In the varying conditions including torrential rain as the front came through, Z50 had an unassailable lead. Despite losing his place at one stage to Z69, Tom Taylor in Z68 gained it back close to the line to get a very creditable second in his first race helming a Victory.
Race 6 – This was a long 4.5 + hours in the Western Solent against wind and tide. The fleet split into two with those on the Hampshire shore gaining a considerable advantage as the wind veered to the north west. Z50 Zara led but having rounded the windward mark the wrong way, later retired, giving Z69 his 4th win, (and the Regatta), from Z49 Shearwater (Russell Mead) and Z75 Team Woozle (Nigel Sefton-Smith).
Race 7 – Another long offwind leg to Lee on Solent saw Z76 Zest lead from Z74 Peregrine (Tom Hartridge) then Z57 Variety until a navigational error by Z76 let through chasing Z69 for his 5th first place. Z49 beat Z57 by 4 secs for third. Z54's 6th gave them 2nd place in the overall standings, two points ahead of Z76 whose 2nd gave them 3rd overall, one point ahead of Z57,Z78, Z49 and Z50, these last four separated by only four points.
The passage race to Cowes was won by Z67 Zircon (Gareth Penn) from Z57 Variety (Janet Dee).
“Constructors championship” (boat positions)
John Perry: 1st,13th,14th (current builder)
AW Clemens: 2nd
Harry Feltham: 4th,8th
RA Hamper: 6th,7th,9th,10th,15th,17th
David Heritage Racing Yachts (GRP composite): 3rd,5th,11th,12th,18th,21st (current builder)