Cowes Week goes to the wire

Winner decided following protest room decisions

Saturday August 10th 2002, Author: Dick Johnson/James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
The hotly contested class 0 was concluded in the protest room this evening when in a bizarre set of circumstances Kit Hobday and Tim Louis' Farr 52, Bear of Britain was declared OCS, was reinstated and then declared OCS again.

After the finish Bear of Britain was deemed to have been OCS, meaning that the overall class win for Cowes Week would go to Nick Hewson's Team Tonic who had a better discard than they did. But a representative from the Bear crew was able to watch the video of the start line with a member of the jury present and watching the video it appeared they had not started prematurely. Bear of Britain was therefore reinstated.

Paul Brotherton, tactician on Team Tonic takes up the story. "We went to the race office and asked if we could see the video. Our view was the video at best was showing them over the line and at worst on the line." However what swung it was the juror had based their decision on the clock shown on the video and not from the race officer's count down.

"We came out thinking we had a case for redress," continued Brotherton. "The count down should be race officer's count down and not the video. We put in a request for redress, because our overall position had been affected by the jury's decision after the protest. We dug around and asked a few questions and got hold of the person who'd been calling the line. He said there were definitely three boats over, but he didn't remember which boats. So he went and watched the video and said that the video wasn't taken on the line. The video was discredited and therefore the race officers original call stood. So they [Bear] got an OCS and we got bumped."

While racing finished at 2.30pm it wasn't until 7.30 that the jury's final decision was made.

Dick Johnson writes:

It might have waited until right to the end, but at last the wind decided to be kind to Skandia Life Cowes Week and blow from the beginning of the day to the end - the sun even managed to come out in the afternoon. All in all, it was a great conclusion to the Week.

As always, there were trophies up for grabs, but for many boats this was the last chance to notch up a good result and perhaps snatch a better position overall, or to be able to discard a bad result from earlier.

Overall in the Black Group, the early leader, Dick Dastardly in Class 6, (Guy Nichols and Co.,) slipped with a fifth and a third, dropping to fifth overall. 'Dog Tag', (Peter Scholfield), took over for a while, but the final Black Group winner came from Class 10, 'Waverider', a J 120 owned by Mike Bennett. Their final count of all first places in a big class made them a worthy winner.

In the White Group, the Sonata 'So', (Neil McLure and Keith Stewart) came down from Scotland and carried all before them. They didn't start on Saturday but still counted a clean sheet of first places to beat the Sonar 'Dolphin', (Duncan Bates) who had discarded a sixth and a second. Martin Wadhams's K6 'Fat Face' was in third, discarding a seventh and a second, just a little worse than Dolphin's record.

Competition in the X One Design class is so tough that the winner of the class doesn't even appear in the top 36 overall in the White Group. 'Lass', Simon, 'Fumesy' Russell's Hamble-based boat managed a resounding win by 55 points from Stuart Jardine's 'Lone Star', but didn't even manage a win and only popped into the top three in the final race.

Today's race for the big boats, Class 0, was won on the water by the massive Swan 70 'Volvo for Life', sailed by Ben Ainslie. 'Bear of Britain' thought that they had won on corrected time, but were declared OCS by the race committee. Bear's team protested that they had started correctly and were reinstated, putting them top. Then, just to keep everyone on their toes, 'Team Tonic', Nick Hewson, and 'Volvo for Life' counter-protested, claiming that Bear had been over after all and claiming redress and the removal of Bear of Britain. At the time of writing it was proceeding in the protest room and looked as though it would run and run.

After losing her mast earlier in the week, when the wind was too much for her slender wooden spar, the Folkboat 'Madelaine', (Edward Donald), bounced back with a bang today, winning Class 7 by just about a minute from Martyn and Magnus Wheatley's International H Boat 'Cloud Nine'. The effervescent 'Disko Trooper', (Jules Hall, Rob Garlick and Will Hamilton), took third. Overall in the class 'Cloud Nine' won with 'Disko Trooper' second.

Depleted fleets were the order of the day for some of the White Group classes, the Hunter 707s in particular just getting into double figures as the rest of the fleet departed for home. Many of the owners had trailed the boats to Cowes from other fleets in the UK and doubtless welcomed the chance to get the boat back on its trailer and on the road home.

Overall in the 707s, Ian Southworth's 'Chilli Chaser' topped the result from 'Doh!' (Tom Davidson and Andrew Aldwinckle), with 'The Ant Hill Mob', (Russell Mead), third. 'Chilli Chaser' was well in the lead in this hotly contested class, counting nothing worse than a fourth in his finishes.

For a long time, the new Laser SB3 Sportsboat 'Wee Jamarama', sailed by Stuart Hawthorn led the Sportsboat class, but a last minute charge by 'Hybrid Challenger', a team of youth sailors led by Jonny Marshall, swept them into a five and a half point lead.

With the sparkling end to Skandia Life Cowes Week 2002, provided by the fine afternoon weather, erasing earlier disappointments with a lack of wind, competitors left Cowes thinking only of returning in just under a year to resume where they had just left off. Innovations and improvements to the organisation - the text messaging of courses to boats for instance - all add to the success of a regatta that can rightly be considered to be the best in the world.

See page two for today's results...

See page three for overall Cowes Week results...

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