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Suntouched 2016 Dinghy Show

Lendy Cowes Week 2017 - Day 2

by Rupert Holmes on 30 Jul 29 July - 5 August 2017

Today competitors at Lendy Cowes Week enjoyed a bright and sunny day with challenging, but exhilarating, racing in a gusty west south-westerly wind in which the gusts topped 25 knots. Many of the larger Black Group yachts finishing on the Royal Yacht Squadron line experienced multiple broaches and spinnaker wraps, much to the delight of the throngs of spectators lining the shore.

The blustery conditions also took their toll of boats across the fleet, with most classes seeing multiple retirements, with reasons including rig damage, groundings and collisions.

In the Fast40+ class, Peter Morton's Girls on Film was leading by two minutes, approaching Baxters buoy located near Gurnard Head when she hit a rock. "We had dropped our spinnaker and we were about to round the mark." explained Morton. "We were hard on and had to be towed off some time later. We frantically waved at the boats behind to alert them – Invictus and Rebellion were approaching really fast."

In the fracas Invictus and Rebellion had a minor coming-together. "It was a just a kiss really." suggested Stewart Whitehead, owner/driver of Rebellion. "We had our A2 spinnaker up and I think Invictus had their masthead code zero set, so we were coming in at different angles and when we both took evasive action, we touched". A fourth boat in the fleet suffered damage when the topmast of 42 South broke above the upper spreaders. Despite the various problems there were no injuries among any of the crews in the class.

Today was also family day at Lendy Cowes Week, in which the event celebrates the many family bonds that sailing helps to foster. While family sailing for some means everyone racing on the same boat, the Squib class also has many family members pitched against each other in different boats.

"We have a huge number of family connections across the fleet," says class captain Steve Warren Smith. "...there are hardly any Squibs out there without at least one connection to another family member." He then rattled off a long list of families in the class that are either sailing either with, or against, each other, with names including Downer, Porteous, White, Russell, Baker, Gibson, Keely and Prime.

White Group

Today most of the White Group dayboats starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron line had to contend with a strong adverse tide. In the J/80 class Chris Body's MockingJay and yesterday's winner, Jon Powell's Betty, were closest to the line at the start, with Powell having the benefit of being in weaker tide close inshore. He quickly sealed this advantage with a neatly executed early tack onto port in a favourable wind shift, with Barney Dykes' Jane following suit just behind.

For the first couple of minutes of their first half-mile long windward leg to Kingston Marine Services buoy these two boats looked as though they were extending away from the bulk of the fleet further offshore. However Jane stayed on the offshore tack for too long, standing out into the stronger stream offshore and handing second place at this stage back to MockingJay. Betty finished unusually far down the fleet, leaving MockingJay to take first place exactly five minutes ahead of Terence O'Neill's Aqua J. Felix Trattner's UKSA 3 took third place.

There was plenty of action on the first leg of the Dragon's race. Oliver Morgan's Christianna was first to pull the trigger in the final few seconds before the start, gaining a small advantage on Graham Bailey's Aimee. Starting very close inshore under the RYS, yesterday's winner Donal Small/Martin Payne's Full Speed was able to tack into a controlling position to windward and inshore of Christianna and Aimee, while Owen Pay's Furious followed close behind in fourth place.

Although it's less than 200 metres off the beach, judging the layline to the first mark in the strong tide was a difficult, yet critical, decision. Much of the fleet overstood, allowing Gavia Wilkinson-Cox's Jerboa to get around first, followed by Aimee a couple of lengths behind, with Full Speed a similar distance back in third place.

With Aimee having retired, Jerboa led the fleet at the finish, 77 seconds ahead of Full Speed, while Russian entry Igor Goikhberg's Zenith took third place. "We had a good start and led at the first mark, but Graham Bailey on Aimee managed to gybe and slip through on the inside track at the second mark," said Wilkinson-Cox. "We went round that mark in third, but the two boats ahead did a massive bear away for another mark. We were sure we had the right course, carried on and gained a good lead. Having just completed a really windy world championship in Cascais helped us a lot and we were thoroughly tuned up for today's conditions."

The Sportsboat fleet also saw plenty of fast-paced action on the first beat. Alex Locke's Farr 280 Dirty and Malcolm Robert's modified 9 metre Ker Sunshine were closest to the line at the gun, with Dirty at the north end, Sunshine close inshore and the boats in the middle hanging well back from the line.

Sunshine made an early tack onto port, clearing ahead of the fleet even though she fell into an unlucky lull. She was followed closely by a pair of Farr 280s, Jamie Rankin's Pandemonium and Peiro Paniccia's Adriatica, in the early stages of their mile-long first beat to CJ May buoy on the Island shore.

Sunshine won today's race in Sportsboat Division 2, ahead of a pair of 1720s, Michael Livingstone's Rum n Cork and Steph Merry's Midnight Cowboy. Adriatica took like honours in Sportsboat Division 1 after a close race in which the first four boats were only 93 seconds apart on corrected time. However, she failed to save her time against yesterday's winner, Malcolm Wootton's Farr 30 Pegasus Dekmarx, and against David and Kirsty Apthorp's J/88 J-Dream.

"Having won the race by 15 minutes yesterday, we were a bit slow off the mark today and took a while to get through," said Wootton. "At the end of the first run we were still surrounded by boats we should have been ahead of and were lying about seventh. From there on we worked hard on speed upwind and used the tide to our advantage. On the third beat we crossed the tide to Ryde Bank into shallow water and worked the shifts. This I believe was the key to our success today."

Black Group

For the early starters among the Black Group yachts on the Bramble line there was a difference in opinion as to whether to start at the northern end of the line and make an early tack onto port to head for tidal relief on the north shore of the Solent, or start at the southern end of the line, which had a favourable bias in terms of wind direction.

In IRC Class 0 the smart money appeared to be on the latter, with Bernard Langley's TP52 Gladiator making a perfectly timed pin end start at full speed. Gladiator was closely followed by Tor McLaren's MAT 1180 Gallivanter, which in turn had Piet de Vroon's Ker 51 Tonnerre on her windward hip. The remainder of the fleet, however, were further towards the northern end of the line.

Which option paid in the end? Gladiator took line honours ahead of Tonnerre. Langley saved his time to win on corrected time, but Igor Yakunin's Ker 46 Lady Mariposa R and Christian Zugel's Mat 1180 Tschuss took second and third respectively on corrected time ahead of Tonnerre.

By the time of the IRC Class 1 start at 1030 the wind was already gusting above 20 knots at it wasn't long before the gusts in the central Solent were topping 25 knots. The fleet was more spread out along the line than the earlier classes, with boats jockeying more for clear air than a specific end of the line. James Gair's Mills 39 Zero ll – Cowes Race School made a well-timed approach as the boat closest to the pin end, while Paul and Marco van Driel's Dutch J/111 Sweeny attempted to cross the fleet on port tack, but failed and had to tack under a group of second-row starters.

The preference in this fleet was for earlier tacks towards the north shore than the two faster classes that started earlier. It was not long before the fleet was short tacking in the shallow water to the east of Lepe Spit.

By the time of their finish, just before 1430, the wind had backed further into the southwest and moderated slightly, with the maximum gusts down to 22-23 knots. Nevertheless, the light displacement asymmetric yachts revelled in the conditions, planing at speeds well into double digits as they sped to the finish.

The top three boats enjoyed a close finish, with Zero ll – Cowes Race School taking line honours 39 seconds ahead of Sam Cox's lower rated King 40 Nifty. Mike Greville's Ker 39 Erivale lll took third place on the water 45 seconds behind Nifty, but was not able to save her time on Tony Mack's J/111 McFly, which took third on corrected time behind Zero ll and Nifty.

Charity day

Tomorrow (Monday) is Lendy Cowes Week's Charity Day, with the spotlight on official charity, the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. Inspired by 'Bart's Bash', the organisation's famous global fundraising event held every September, the results of tomorrow's Lendy Cowes Week racing from all fleets will be pooled to find an overall winner for the day.

After racing there will be a Big Bash party at Cowes Yacht Haven from 1900, at which there will be special prizes for those wearing the distinctive yellow "Simpson Sunnies". The winning crew of the "Cowes Bash" will also receive a prize package including free entry to next year's Lendy Cowes Week.

www.lendycowesweek.co.uk

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