Rio claims Class Zero
Fresh westerly winds give Cowes Week competitors another day of fast and furious racing.
Today Black Group sailed in the western Solent, with classes starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron line heading east, while White Group headed downwind towards the east. After starting from the Black Group committee boat in the western Solent, Charles Dunstone's TP52 Rio took a fourth win to secure the overall series in IRC Class Zero from Sam Laidlaw's Farr 52 Bob. At the start of the day, Ian Matthews' J/122 Jinja was leading by two points from Peter Morton and Andrew McIrvine's First 40 La Response in IRC Class 2. However, Matthews was forced to count a sixth place today, while Morton and McIrvine's first place secured their victory in the class by three points.
In IRC Class 4, Philippe Bourgeois' Marine Diffusion Dunkerque was forced to count her fifth place today, while a first place for Tom Snowball's Mongoose left the two boats tied on 15 points, with Bourgeois winning overall on countback.
Starting mid-line on port tack, two boats in IRC Class 5 - Bob and Jon Baker's X-332 Brightwork and M Brown, J Leese, S Elliott's Beneteau Figaro Black Diamond - took a large lead, appearing to be almost 10 lengths clear ahead. However, Adam Gosling's Corby 30 Yes! again proved to be invincible, taking her third win of the event and the overall class title.
In IRC Class 6, John Brattan and Andrew Lambert's Sigma 362 Software Mistress Team 88 made another good start, along with the Linton/Apps/Jackson team's UFO 34 Westerner. Both found clear water to the south - and therefore to windward - of the bulk of the fleet to start on port tack ahead of the pack. The first two boats to cross the line today, Stephen James' Jacobite and Ian Braham's Enigma were at the top of the leaderboard on corrected time. They also topped the fleet overall, with Braham two points ahead of James.
The two boats at the head of IRC Class 7, Madelaine and Isobella Donald's Folkboat Madelaine and Paul Blower's Impala Patriot Games, were tied on points going into the final race. The majority of the fleet opted for the north end of the start line, allowing James Gibbs' J/24 Wild Thing to find plenty of clear space for a port tack start that gave her a big advantage in the early stages of the race. As the fleet tacked along the north shore, David Kirkley's 39ft Nicholson Conteza had pulled ahead to lead the fleet, with Patriot Games second on the water, and Wild Thing third.
Patriot Games maintained this position at the finish, crossing the line three minutes after Wim Driessens' Bolderik. These two boats took first and third on corrected time, with Madelaine second, giving Madelaine the overall class win by a single point.
The Quarter Ton class revelled in today's winds, with more of the very close racing for which this fleet has become famed. Rob Gray's Aguila took her first win of the series, just five seconds ahead of Louise Morton's Espada. There was even closer racing further back in the fleet, with places six to eight separated by only five seconds. Morton took first overall by three points from Howard Sellars' Bullet, with Aguila just half a point behind in third overall.
In the Contessa 32 class, another win today for Ray Rouse's Blanco saw her take the overall win again.
The front of the Sunsail fleet is very closely fought, although it has again been dominated this year by The Listening Company. Today's start was won by National Grid and Sunsail 30, both at the southern end of the line. Sunsail 30 had a reef in and, surprisingly, no crew on her rail, allowing National Grid to pop out ahead from under her lee. However, by the time the fleet started short tacking towards Stansore Point, Red Funnel 1, The Listening Company and Deloitte had gained a slim advantage on National Grid.
At the finish The Listening Company was two minutes ahead of Red Funnel 1, securing her overall win in the class for a second year, and an impressive overall win in Black Group.
The tightest of racing
Three White Group classes concluded their races today. The 10-boat RS Elite fleet has again proved to be one of the most competitive this week, with just five points separating the top five boats at the start of their final race. At today's start five boats were in line abreast, spinnakers drawing, with nothing to choose between them. However, two boats, Andrew Christie's Ellanore and McGrigor Bennett's White Water gradually pulled ahead of the pack, while Steve Powell's E'tu, leading the class overall at the start of the day, was back in fifth.
Jono Brown's Aeolus got ahead into a commanding lead, to win from Paul Jenkins and Ernie Hatton's Activ 3G by a three and a half minute margin, with Crauford McKeon's Kandoo 3 taking third and Powell fourth. This left the leading five boats just two points apart at the end of their series, with Powell taking the overall win on count back.
The Laser SB3s also had their last day of racing today. A second place helped Nick Phillips' Chaotic secure the series by a seven-point margin, with Colin Simond's Doolalli's seventh place today forcing him to count a fifth place on Tuesday.
With tide and wind carrying them over the line, the Victory class opted for a relatively cautious start. Bill Arnold's Zarena, Duncan and Carol Evans, Di Corke and Tom Hartridge's Peregrine and K Taylor and W Bancroft's Zest were best placed on the line, with Zest pulling well ahead after the start.
At the finish, Jeremy Lear and John Tremlett's Zinnia - already confirmed as likely overall class winners - led Zest by 29 seconds, with Russell Mead's Shearwater third. Today's second place lifted Zest to third overall, two points adrift of Geoff and Sarah Dixon's Zelia.
Full results here