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Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week - Day 1

by Marina Johnson 21 Jul 2014 22:41 BST 21-25 July 2014
Day 1 of Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week © Jake Sugden

Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week opened yesterday as eight one-design classes vied for the week's first trophy on offer, the Trinity Cup, in a one off race, the pre-cursor to the main 4-day series that starts tomorrow.

As the Cowes so-called heatwave continues, the day offered just enough breeze, between 8 and 12 knots, to provide some stable conditions, before softening towards the end of the race day.

Meanwhile the two Classic Cruiser classes, comprising 27 yachts all of whom were built before 1970, were divided into Fast and Slow divisions to compete in the first of their 5-day regatta series. Like all the other classes they started from the shore line of the organising club, the Royal London Yacht Club. Bob Gatehouse's Erida, Peter Halliday's Bambella and William Amherst's Janessa fought a close battle up the first leg in the Fast division, on a course which took them on a beat up to the mainland shore in the north westerly wind direction. Erida held on to her lead to the second windward mark to hoist her spinnaker first, pursued by Bob Fisher's 1898 Fife Mignon, but ultimately it was Jonty Sherwill's Cockleshell, built in 1926, which won the class on handicap.

Brian Haugh's 1957 Buchanan design Cherete triumphed in the Classic Cruiser Slow division, which enjoyed a similar course of mid-Solent marks, followed by James Stock's Twister Fly of Beaulieu.

The majority of the one design classes and the 8 metre class and Flying Fifteens which are racing under handicap, were sent westwards away from the Royal London line. The Daring, National Swallow, Solent Sunbeam, Flying Fifteen, Loch Long, XOD, and Old Gaffer classes took advantage of what Chief Race Officer Derek Hodd described as "using as much of the mid-Solent as possible, to take in a variety of conditions".

The mighty XOD class, the largest in the regatta, was the most ubiquitous, and their eagerness to get started resulted in a general recall. Only a black flag held them back to a clean start at the second attempt. The champion of the day was surely Kim Slater and his crew in Madeleine who led the XODs from the second mark to open up a significant lead, as he and the fleet behind him hugged the inshore moorings to avoid the tide in the light winds, on the final beat to the finish. "We had a good start inshore, and managed to squeeze into first place by the second mark" said Kim, from the Parkstone XOD fleet. "My crew including 'Fumesy' Simon Russell and Robert Bedford were certainly instrumental in spotting the moves that helped us extend our lead." Second boat home in class was William McNeill's Lara which also never lost sight of a top position during the race.

The Solent Sunbeam class showed their well-rehearsed experience as a cohesive entity as the fleet was possibly the tightest off the start. The class which first appeared in 1922 is enjoying a phenomenal resurgence with the introduction of the new cost-effective GRP hulls. A win by Joe and Cathy Burnie in Fleury looks a good start to their defence of their 2013 title at Cowes Classics Week. "We only moved into first position on the final leg," said Joe. "It was a very challenging last leg, working the wind, tide and Cowes Breakwater Exclusion Zone hard!"

John Hassen made his trip from Perth, Western Australia all the more worthwhile when he won the Flying Fifteen class.

Title sponsor Charles Stanley supported by Classic Boat magazine welcomed the fleet at a reception at the Club last night.

Thanks also go to supporting sponsors Hudson White, Harken, Haines Boatyard, Winkworth, Cowes Harbour Commission, Kendall's Fine Art, and NMS Adaptive.

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