Lightning strikes twice for Roaring Meg

The big boats in Class 0 and 1 feasted on a diet of Chinese rolls and uncontrolled gybes in the Sir Walter Preston Cup at Cowes Week

Tuesday August 7th 2001, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
It was second time unlucky for Roaring Meg after her rig fell down at Skandia Life Cowes Week in winds that gusted up to 31 knots. The Ker 10.7's rig had given way a year ago during the Rolex Commodores Cup and now it has happened again.

"Some lashings on the checkstay broke as we were bearing away round a mark," commented designer Jason Ker, who was a the helm today. "We retied it, but you have to make sure they're the right length." Roaring Meg went down to the leeward mark with the retied checkstay, rounded up and tacked. But then as the grinder cranked on the runner there was a nasty snapping sound and the rig broke cleanly in two. "As he got to the right setting there was a big bang," said Ker. "It turned out the checkstay lashing was much longer on that side and he was just bending the mast in half. It turned into a big banana and broke."

Roaring Meg is now back in Hamble where her mast will be sleeved. Meanwhile Ker is developing something of a reputation for dropping rigs. "I'm starting to become a big fan of swept back spreaders and non-overlapping rigs!" he commented.

Things were looking better elsewhere for the young designer - for a while, anyway. Winner of the Queen's Cup on Saturday, Michael White's Ker 11.3m one-design On a High, was looking set for glory again today. She was a good 200 metres ahead of the next boat in Class 1, when she went into an uncontrolled gybe and broke the boom. Helmsman Phil Crebbin and his crew were forced to retire but will be back out tomorrow with a new boom.

The vicious 30-knot winds that ripped through the Solent did nothing to deter the Swan 60 Spirit of Jethou from annihilating the opposition in Class 0 today. Peter Ogden and Owen Parker's cruiser/racer finished almost three minutes ahead of Kit Hobday's Farr 52 Bear of Britain. With young match racing talent Mark Campbell-James at the helm and a bunch of 20-somethings making up the bulk of the crew, Bear of Britain tore away from their rivals in the other Farr 52s, David Lowe's Loco and Peter Harrison's Chernikeeff 2. Kite trimmer on Bear of Britain, John Clifton, described it as a "full-on" sail: "We hit 22 knots today, and the team sailed really well." But a penalty for a port/starboard incident with the IC45 Serano dropped them way down the rankings from what would have been a top three on corrected time in Class 0 to last-placed finisher in 20th.

The legendary Australia II, back on the water after 15 years, finished in third place in Class 0. It was impressive enough that a yacht designed for the light breezes off Newport, Rhode Island, finished at all in today's squalls, but she is looking like a strong contender for victory in the Prada 12m World Championships in just over a week's time. Richard Matthew's 12m Crusader, on the other hand, was one of the many to retire from the 37-mile battle around the western Solent.

Robert Condon's Serano, the IC45 formerly known as Indulgence and Barlo Plastics, finished half a minute ahead of another IC45 Wolf. But it may not be as simple as that. Crews on some of the IC45s were muttering that Serano was carrying a longer pole than her rating allowed, and someone may choose to take action against the boat skippered by Adrian Stead of the GBR Challenge.

Wolf's helmsman Kevin Sproul commented: "They beat us by a small margin today, so if they were on a different rating we'd have beaten them. I don't want to take it to protest or anything like that, and until I see their rating certificate it is hard to draw any conclusions. But if they are rated wrongly I'd like them to get remeasured and their results so far to be recalculated."

After On A High conceded her lead with boom damage, Tony Mack's Beneteau 47.7 McFly went on to win Class 1 from Charles Dunstone's Nokia, and these two boats also took the top placings in the combined results of Class 0 and 1 for the Sir Walter Preston Cup.

In Class 2, David Walters' J39 Jackdaw won by over two minutes from Aera, the Swan 46, and Jonathan Perry's Prima 38 Firestorm.

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