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Cowes Classics Week 2018 Day 4 - A cracking Solent breeze

by Cowes Classic Week 26 Jul 2018 20:45 BST 23-27 July 2018
The 46-strong XOD fleet enjoyed steady breezes for two of the three races on day 4 of Cowes Classics Week © Tim Jeffreys Photography

After yesterday's fluky conditions a stiff and steady easterly set into the Solent today for the penultimate race day of Cowes Classics Week.

Good tactics and playing the tides were two factors key to success in the Cruiser classes which started their fourth day of racing from the Royal London Yacht Club's shore line.

This was certainly the strategy for Andrew Pearson's 10 metre Bojar, built in 1937, which continued her clean sweep of wins in Red Class 2. "We learnt a lot of lessons from watching the fleet in front of us (Red Class 1)", reported tactician Nick Ryley. "We could see that some were struggling to cross the line so we decided to come in on port, managing to cross the rest of the fleet and then tacked out offshore to get the best of the tide. That was our winning tactic, right at the beginning and we managed to hold onto our lead the whole way round." He adds "We are just beginning to understand how to keep this 81 year old, 16 tonne yacht moving in light winds!"

Red Class 2 represents a real spectrum of vintage yachts. Bojar beat 30 square metre Aeolus into second place and cruising 8 metre Charm of Rhu into third.

In the Green class Mike and Barbara Harrison's Contessa 26 Jiminy Cricket scored her third win of the week out of four races, keeping the 44 year old at the top of the leaderboard ahead of William Edwards' 1962 built Mermaid class Annabelle. Also racing in Green is Cynthia a Seaview Mermaid that was built in 1922 and discovered virtually as a wreck by Mike Randall and a number of partners. She was restored over a number of years and the last fitting was fastened hours before the first race in the 2017 edition of Cowes Classics Week. Cynthia returned to Cowes Classics this week for the second time having spent the past year racing with the rest of the Mermaid fleet at Seaview. "We have been enjoying the conditions," says Mike "and we are still learning a lot about the boat."

With a class rating for the Cowes Classics Fleet Cynthia is competing in Green all week. Meanwhile nine other Seaview Mermaids made a one day guest appearance today, keeping up the custom of one-day classes coming along which have included the Squibs and the Victories this week. The Seaview Mermaids sailed to the starting area, and enjoyed constant steady breezes to complete three windward-leeward courses before using their fourth and final race to head back to their home base of Seaview. "The breeze was sufficient that they had to change from their number ones to working jibs," reported Course Race Officer Amanda Harding. "They take that decision as a class."

Sharing the Seaview Mermaids circuit were the Bembridge One Designs, whose identical and gleaming blue hulls make them unmistakable, and the elegant Loch Longs. The wind held steady throughout the day for three races each putting both classes on schedule to complete their full series tomorrow. Jonathan Evans' Tantrum is the Loch Long to watch with four firsts in seven races so far while Russ Fowler in BOD1 continues to lead the Bembridge One Designs going into the final day.

The XOD fleet, numbering 46 boats today, made, as always, for a great spectacle. Course Race Officer Bob Milner set three races today. A general recall for the first race of the morning, not unusual for this class, delayed proceedings but subsequent clean starts kept the schedule going. Race one of the day went to John Tremlett in X80 Lass, while the middle race was claimed by James Meaning and his crew on X156 Gleam. All went well in the steady easterly breeze until race 3 when, minutes after the first six boats had crossed the finish line, the wind shut off, and then proceeded to barely breathe from both east and west. "We had thankfully just shortened the course," says Bob, "but then it was a long wait for the rest of the fleet to struggle to the finish." The final race was also a triumph for Lass which now tops the leaderboard by a slim point over Max Crowe's Clair de Lune.

The five Flying Fifteens and Darings both got steady and close racing on their respective committee boat courses, but almost no one was as close at the finish as Folkboats Eala (Alasdair Maclean) and Njord (Patrick Farrell) which finished within one second of each other after several hours of racing on a fixed Solent mark course. Claire Locke with The Otter still leads the Folkboat series with a fourth win today.

Racing concludes tomorrow, followed by a prizegiving at the Royal London Yacht Club.

The organising club, the Royal London Yacht Club, is supported by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club and Island Sailing Club. The famous RLYC Winkworth tea parties are once again taking place every afternoon and there is a full calendar of evening social events.

Cowes Classics Week is supported by sponsors Charles Stanley Direct, Winkworth, Red Funnel, Cowes Harbour Commission, Kendalls Fine Art, Clare Lallows boatyard, Classic Boat magazine, Zhik clothing and Robert Oatley Fine Wines.

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