Big breeze on the Solent will see final day of racing at the Etchells Worlds being held tomorrow

Saturday June 30th 2007, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
The competitors and Race Committee at the 2007 Etchells World Championship in Cowes have spent all day watching the weather and desperately hoping for the wind to drop so they could complete the final races of the regatta. Sadly the weather gods were not on their side and although the sun shone for much of the day the wind rarely dropped below 25 knots with regular gusts up towards 30 knots. This combined with a strong ebb tide made for a particularly nasty Solent chop and racing was never possible. Tomorrow's scheduled reserve day will now be used in the hope of completing one final race.

Day broke with a howling gale and driving rain but the forecast promised winds in the mid teens by lunchtime and so the Committee initially signalled a one hour postponement and held the boats ashore to see how the situation developed. By 1000 the wind was dropping and the Committee put the boats on stand-by for a decision at 1030. The wind continued to drop slowly and at 1030 permission was given for the boats to leave the dock with the Committee advising that the first start would take place no sooner than 1230.

Jud Smith and Tom Hughes were eagerly awaiting the decision and were first off the dock while the other crews were still gathering themselves together. As they headed out of the lee of the harbour and got into the full force of the south westerly it was clear, even from the safety of the club terrace, that conditions were still quite extreme. The tide was in full ebb and the Solent was covered in white caps as the famous chop did its worst.

"To be honest we almost didn't go out as it was fairly lumpy," explained Tom Hughes' bowman Steve Hayles once safely back ashore. "We left the dock and went out to have a look and basically it was a classic Solent thing with wind over tide. I don't necessarily think it was too windy but the tide was very strong and there was a big sea running so although you probably would have been alright in a straight line, getting a course set up and a start away safely would have been difficult so we respect the Committee's decision."

Within a very short time the wind was building again and before the majority of competitors had even left the dock the Committee was forced to review its decision and hoist AP over H, calling everyone back to harbour. Once again the crews gathered at the Royal Corinthian with everyone constantly checking the weather information from the Bramble post weather station, desperately hoping for good news.

Sadly by 1500 it was becoming clear that the wind was not dropping and the seas in the Solent were still very severe so the Race Committee reluctantly hoisted the AP over A and called off racing for today.

Tomorrow's scheduled reserve day will now come into play and one final race is planned to decide the regatta. The forecast conditions are expected to reduce to Force 4 to 5 overnight and then to increase again after midday tomorrow to Force 6 and above. Given these conditions it has been decided to bring forward the first warning signal to 1000.

Overall Andy Beadsworth, sailing GBR1361 with Oscar Strugstad and Simon Fry, continues to lead the regatta on 15 points. Ante Razmilovic, sailing GBR1333 with Jez Fanstone and Stuart Flinn are second on 18 points. James Howells, sailing GBR1332 with David Bedford and Oscar Mead are third on 23 points and defending World Champion Jud Smith, sailing USA1351 with David McClintock and Steve Girling, are fourth on 24 points.

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