Swanning around

TheDailySail's Andy Nicholson reports on progress at the Rolex Swan Europeans
The Italian crews are feeling very at home here in Cowes as the temperature has soared at the Rolex Swan Europeans – the only problem today is a serious lack of breeze. The nearest isobar is in Holland and a seabreeze is refusing to announce an arrival. The fleet is split into three groups, with the Swan 45s doing their own thing on a windward leeward course over towards the mainland shore. All the remaining Swans are in two classes, with Class A starting at 46 feet and finishing at 70 and Class B starting at 36 feet and finishing at 47 feet. We are racing under the Swan handicap system with the Class B boats getting a rating allowance for ‘Live Aboard Crew’ – Cimaroon, a Swan 38 has eight onboard overnight. A and B Classes have so far completed three races which have played into the hands of the smaller boats. The seabreeze has been reasonably weak, the most we have seen is 16 knots, and the spring tides are smoking. The courses have taken us down the western Solent with tide under us on the upwind legs and against on the downwind. This has meant that the advantage has been to sail square on the long runs and close into the shore to avoid the worse of the current – a benefit for the smaller boats. The smaller boats have also benefited from the vagaries of the seabreeze and on both days have brought slightly more pressure down with them on the final run back to Cowes. All our starts have been off the Squadron line and it has been a real test of time-on-distance sailing. A few boats were caught out on the first day with one Swan 601 breaking early with a SOG of around 12 knots! Island