Cork versus Cowes

You pays your money and you takes your choice - Ed Gorman sizes up the two rivals
It's been another year when we've had a Ford Cork Week and a Skandia Life Cowes Week - the two biggest recreational regattas in the British Isles and two of the biggest in the world. They compliment each other in many ways but also rival each other, so what's the score between them? Stuart Quarrie, the director of the Cowes Combined Clubs, remarked before this year's jamboree on the Solent that, in his view, comparisons between Cowes Week and Cork Week are invidious. They are, he suggested, two different events, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Quarrie is right. But what is also clear is that trail-blazing by Cork Week has directly impacted its older, at times, complacent relation and forced it to get its act together. All to the good of the thousands of yachtsmen and women who choose to race at Cowes. No surprise then that this was one of the best Cowes Weeks in recent years. Spring tides running at three knots could have caused mayhem but, with the exception of the last day which was lost to light winds, conditions were more or less ideal through the week. That included one full-on day when the breeze blew at 25-30 knots producing some exciting racing. Noticeable among the bar chat was far less grumbling about course-setting than is usual. Noticeable too was the enjoyment many crews derived from the two days of committee boat starts - in force for only the second year at Cowes and instituted partly in response to the greater variety of courses pioneered at Cork - though many would have preferred windward/leewards on those days. On the racing side it was a more than competent display, with race officers making full use of the new flexibility in the sailing instructions - for example, switching the direction of the