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Cowes Week 2021 Day 4

by Rupert Holmes 3 Aug 19:37 BST 31 July - 6 August 2021

Competitors today benefited from a relaxing morning ashore, in bright and warm sun, while waiting for a sea breeze to fill in. The general postponement signal came down at 1300, with the first starts getting under way from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in a predominately east-south-easterly breeze of 8-10 knots at 1400.

The J/70 class completed the final races of a hotly contested 12-race short series, in which 10 boats from the 34-strong fleet scored at least one podium result. Victory for Nick Philips' Chaotic in the final two races saw his team cement an overall win.

"The racing has been really close," Phillips says. "We came off the start line of the last race with everybody basically going the same speed - we were all getting to the first mark at the same time!

"The race team did really well to get 11 races, out of the scheduled 12," Phillips added. "The racing was pretty good - typical Cowes stuff with some weird fetches, downwind starts and big ships, as well as some good windward leeward races from committee boats."

Today was also Women's Day, which celebrates the achievements of women in sailing and highlights role models. Solo round the world racing legend Pip Hare sailed on board the 45ft Scaramouche, crewed entirely by girls from the Greig City Academy in Inner London.

Louise Morton's Bullet took her first victory of the week in the Quarter Ton class and now jointly leads the class overall, tied on points with Julian Metherell's Bullit. "It was a short race, with only three marks, which was a good call," Louise said. "There was always going to be a transition [when the south-westerly sea breeze became dominant] which we managed well - it was a classic Cowes Week scenario."

Race detail

The SB20 fleet also completed its Grand Slam short series, with John Pollard's Xcellent notching up a seventh race win in the first race of the day to extend his overall lead on Charles Whelan and Richard McAdam's Breaking Bod. However, the final race was a family affair, with Whelan taking first place and his daughter Annabel and son Charlie second with the IAKA Youth Team's SportsBoatWorld in their best result of the series.

This year has seen a resurgence of the Flying 15 class, ahead of its 75th anniversary in 2022. Among the 15-strong fleet are two world champions, as well as a litany of illustrious names from other classes, both inshore and offshore. Yet this is one of the most accessible fleets here at Cowes, with boats changing hands for as little as £600.

So far the racing has proved far closer than anyone could have predicted. Yesterday all 13 competitors crossed the line only 7 minutes apart, including four mid-fleet boats that were separated by only six seconds.

Today eight boats finished within five minutes, though Graham Deegan's Flip Flop took a comfortable win ahead of Mike Dixon's Fflashback and Rupert Mander's Men Behaving Badly.

Underscoring how difficult it can be to judge starts from a fixed line, Edmund Peel's Quail, the clear overall leader to date in the Redwing class, started at the outer end of the line. However, to observers on the RYS platform the advantage initially appeared to favour the boats closer inshore, led by Quail's closest rival, John Raymond and Matt Alexander's Harlequin, and Mark and Jo Downer's Enigma.

Yet, within five minutes of the start, a big heading wind shift saw Quail back in a familiar position at the head of the fleet, alongside Malcolm and Angela Bentley's Prawn ll.

Despite having started at opposite ends of the line, at the finish Harlequin and Quail were only 56 seconds apart, with the former taking her first victory of the week. Andrew, Sabina and Edward Eddy's Plover finished 13 seconds behind Harlequin, pushing Quail down to third.

The Sunbeam class is another that's been enjoying close racing this week. Yesterday the entire fleet finished within five minutes and in the first three races six different boats notched up podium results. The fleet got away cleanly today, with five boats abreast on the line, with Robin Richardson's Betty offshore and Stewart Reed's Firefly closest inshore.

Today's finish saw the fleet a little further spaced out, with Roger Wickens' Danny notching up a third successive win, a comfortable four minutes ahead of Patrick Green's Harmony. Betty took third place, just ahead of Peter Nicholson's Dainty and Firefly.

Full results and more information at www.cowesweek.co.uk

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