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Cowes Week 2021 Day 5

by Rupert Holmes 4 Aug 21:36 BST 31 July - 6 August 2021

After a long postponement racing got underway today just after lunch, in bright sun and 6-8 knots of wind. A fickle sea breeze that rarely became fully established created a really challenging day for both competitors and race officials, especially later in the afternoon when the weak south-westerly flow fought the initial south-easterly.

The first classes to get under way from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, in an easterly breeze of 6-8 knots, were IRC Classes 0 and 1. They were competing today for the Britannia Cup, one of the most historic and prestigious trophies in the sailing world. Guy Gillon and Christian Hamilton's GP42 Khumbu looked well placed at the inshore end of the tight start line, with Tony Mack's J/111 McFly also nicely placed on her windward hip. Ian Atkins' IC37 Icy also came out well in a gap further offshore, as did Peter Morton's The Jean Genie, having tacked onto port nearby just before the gun.

By contrast, Tony Langley's higher rated TP52 Gladiator started at the outboard end of the line, initially sailing her own race, continued offshore on starboard tack, when others tacked inshore right to the limit of the exclusion zone off Cowes Harbour.

Although the sea breeze was turbulent, with big wind shifts, the fleet made reasonable progress on their 17 mile course, until a leg back from the eastern Solent towards the finish on the Royal Yacht Squadron line.

Having built up a good lead on the water, Gladiator sailed into the transition zone with no wind between the early south-easterly sea breeze and the weak south-westerly that was slowly moving in from the west. Morton, however, headed towards the north shore, where the south-easterly was more consistent that he would benefit from less adverse tide in the shallow water.

Despite sailing a longer distance, The Jean Genie picked up a good vein of breeze close inshore off Lee on Solent, before tacking onto starboard and transitioning fairly smoothly into the new wind. By now Gladiator was sailing at speed in the south-westerly, but didn't have enough runway left to catch the smaller boat. Morton finished 32 seconds ahead to take line honours and win the Britannia Cup. Icy was third on the water, having also approached from the north, but was beaten into second place on corrected time by Tony Mack's J/111 McFly.

In IRC Class 2 John Barrett and Paul Woodfood's Corby 36 Stiletto, and David Franks' J/112E Leon, both also headed along the north shore after their last mark, rather than pointing directly to the finish. Like The Jean Genie they stayed in the south-easterly for long and then had an easier transition to the south westerly. Stiletto took line honours in the class, but was unable to save her time on Leon, who took victory on corrected time by 23 seconds. Another J/112E, John Cooper's Jooped, took third both on the water and on handicap.

For the past few years the HP30 class has offered tight high adrenaline racing that doesn't require a big budget. Sunday's race, for instance, saw three boats cross the finish just five seconds apart at the end of a two and half hour race.

Today Richard Rankin's Farr 280 Pandemonium approached the line first, dipped back just before the gun, but still turned up too soon and was premature. Another Farr 280, Jon Powell's Betty, was nicely placed at the inshore end of the line, before tacking onto port, heading inshore almost to the limit of the exclusion area off Cowes.

Toucan was first across the line today, also winning on corrected time, having approached from the south, six and a half minutes ahead of Jerry Hill and Richard Faulkner's Moral Compass, which approached from the north. Alain Waha and Matthew Waite's Go West Cogital took third place today.

Many of the J/109s approached the start line with enthusiasm, but with a strengthening flood tide pushing them onto the course side, they had to dip back and therefore couldn't accelerate to full speed before the gun. Even then, two boats were premature, one of which did not respond to the recall signal. William Tahourdin's Jedi took victory in today's race, three minutes ahead of John Smart's Jukebox, while Jazzy Jellyfish finished third more than 20 minutes later.

Four White Group day boat classes started and finished from a committee boat line today. In the Mermaid class, Robert Glanville's Annabelle took victory by a margin of three minutes. However, the fight for second place could hardly have been closer and the next four boats, led by Anthony Eaton's Halluf and Richard Hill's Sheen, finished only 46 seconds apart. Sheen retains first place overall, two points ahead of Charles Glanville's Bluebell.

In the Victory class, Hugh Pringle's Pelican took victory today, ahead of Gareth Penn's Christina and Nick Benham's Zilch. A disappointing fifth place today for Russel Mead's Shearwater ll leaves her tied on 18 points with Pelican at the top of the leaderboard.

Tomorrow promises a return to a stronger winds, with a southerly 12-18 knots increasing to give gusts of 25 knots or more in a front later in the afternoon. A further amendment to the Sailing Instructions has been issued to bring some start times forward and change the start lines in use: www.cowesweek.co.uk/web/download/2021/CW21-SIAmendment-4.pdf

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