Cowes Week expects 1,000 yachts

Andy Rice reports on some radical moves for the Skandia-sponsored regatta in August

Tuesday April 3rd 2001, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
Entries for Skandia Life Cowes Week could exceed 1,000 boats for the first time ever, organisers have predicted. With the numbers expected to be swelled by the Fastnet Race and the America's Cup Jubilee, the event will also be open to boats up to 30 metres in length.

Cowes Combined Clubs are also putting on a special one-off race for the three J Class yachts - Endeavour, Shamrock V and Velsheda - on Tuesday 7 August, starting before all the other classes. This will be a rare opportunity to witness these enormous America's Cup yachts competing directly with each other.

The organisers have gone against ISAF recommendations not to charge differential entry fees for sponsored boats, choosing instead to take the RYA's guidance. "The RYA's official view has meant that Cowes Combined Clubs has decided that, for this year, it will continue with double entry fees for sponsored boats.

"This means that, on average, entry fees only need to rise by 2% in line with inflation. If ISAF's recommendation had been implemented, it would have necessitated an average 11% rise in entry fees in order to maintain income at its present level." This will be a popular move for what largely remains a corinthian event, and is unlikely to deter many sponsored boats.

Olympic gold medallists Iain Percy and Shirley Robertson will be competing and working closely with the event organisers and Skandia Life to help raise the profile of the event in the sailing and lifestyle media.

The organisers have changed the rating bands for the handicap classes quite significantly. The press statement said: "The IRC Handicap Class bands have been changed to try and reflect the likely entries this year. The most important change is that for the first time in many years, boats between 24 and 30 metres LOA will be welcome. The justification for this is that we expect a number of the very large boats taking part in the America's Cup Jubilee Regatta to race in Skandia Life Cowes Week."

The Classes will be from 0 - 6 (0 being approx. 60ft and upwards) with the class breaks being decided on TCC (the number that the elapsed time is multiplied by to get the corrected time).

Class 0 - 1.221 and above, with a maximum LOA of 30 metres
Class 1 - 1.100 to 1.220

Class 2 - 1.051 to 1.099
Class 3 - 0.985 to 1.1050
Class 4 - 0.941 to 0.984
Class 5 - 0.886 to 0.940
Class 6 - 0.660 to 0.885, with a minimum LOA of 6.4 metres

Significant changes have been made to the rating bands to Classes 1, 2 and 3.

The top end of Class 1 has been designed to keep all of the 12 metre boats that are expected this year because of the America’s Cup Jubilee, in one class, whilst the bottom end of Class 0 will keep all of the Swan 60s together in one Class.

Class 2 and 3 have been adjusted so that all HOD 35s are in Class 3, whilst all Prima 38s are in Class 2. It is hoped that together with the removal of X332s to their own Class as mentioned below, the numbers of Class 2 and 3 will be reduced to acceptable levels.

The high-tech IRM boats will have their own class and if the number of entries allow, will be split into large and small boats, with fairly even numbers in each.

For boats that are more cruising oriented there will again be two classes using the simple Island Sailing Club rating system.

The X332 Class are having their European Championships in Torbay in mid-July and so organisers anticipate an entry of 25-30 boats at Cowes. This will mean that for the first time they will have their own class start. However, as X332s don't have a standard sail plan, they will be racing under their IRC rating handicap.

J-boats (as opposed to the ‘J’ Class yachts) and other planing bowsprit boats will once again have their own start which will enable the race management to keep boats of such different downwind characteristics clear of boats with standard spinnakers.

The Thames Barges, after their successful trial barge match last year, will be back and hope this year to have 8-9 barges racing on the first Saturday.

All of the usual Dayboat and Cruiser One Design classes will be participating. These are listed on the next page.

Dayboat and Cruiser One Design classes due to take part in Cowes

Contessa 32
Flying Fifteen
Hunter 707
International Dragon
International Etchells
International Melges 24
International Sonar
Mumm 30
National Sonata
National Squib
National Swallow
Seaview Mermaid
Sigma 33
Sigma 38
Solent Sunbeam
Sunsail 36

For more information on Skandia Life, which takes place from 4 to 11 August, visit the official web site.

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