Cowes Week concludes
With its large and competitive fleet, the XOD class is considered by many to be the most difficult to win at Cowes. However, Steve & Peter Lawrence and Patrick Smart's Catherine had a commanding lead going into the final day, needing only to finish within 34 places of second-placed Ben Paton's XL.
Third place, on the other hand, was wide open and with six boats separated by only eight points in contention there was everything to fight for today. The first start from the committee boat off Hill Head resulted in a general recall, with the black flag being broken out for the second start. A very shifty 16-18 knot wind created difficult conditions for competitors. "The shifts were monumental, making it a challenging day," said Rudy Jurg who was sailing on Neil and Vanessa Clifford's Curlew. "We gained 30 places by getting on the right side of one, but then lost 10 on another."
The team on Catherine posted their worst finish of the week - an 18th place - but this still gave them an impressive margin of 32 points over XL, which finished fifth today. A second place for Alastair Shaw's Phoenix saw her move up from fifth place to third, just three points ahead of Ado Jardine's Lucrezia. Jardine's brother Stuart's Lonestar, was a single point behind in fifth place.
As well as the XOD Captain's Cup, Catherine also wins the Westmacott Trophy for the four designs by Alfred Westmacott that race at Cowes Week (XODs, Victorys, Mermaids and Sunbeams) and White Group overall.
A German victory
White Group classes starting on the RYS line again headed east, where a little less wind than the 20-plus knots forecast for the western Solent was expected. In the Longtze class, a fifth win today for Eckhard Kaller's Wet Feet consolidated his overall victory, while a second place for Jarmo Wieland's Swiss boat Shensu lifted her two points clear of Team Stade Francais, to take second place overall.
With neither Graham Bailey's Arbitrator - class winner with two races to spare - nor Doug Flynn's second-placed Loup Garou lX sailing, today's race was won by Robert Elliot's Esprit, with Rob and Ashley Goddard's Ragtime second, followed just five seconds later by Mark Downer's Moonlight in third. This lifted both Esprit and Moonlight one place in the overall results, giving them second and third respectively.
Another win for Jeremy Preston and Scott Macleod's Daring Defender widened their overall lead. However, with only one discard applied in this class, Division Belle, second overall at the start of the day, was unable to discard today's disappointing 12th place, leaving her three points behind Decoy in the overall standings.
In the Dragon Class, most of the fleet opted to start at the northern end of the line, with two boats ahead of the pack a couple of minutes into the race, Len Jones' Rumours and Julia Bailey's Aimee. At the finish Eric Williams' Ecstatic was almost two minutes ahead of Bailey, in his fourth win of the week. This left both boats tied on 11 points overall, with Williams taking the class title on countback.
A class act
The Sonar class has again been dominated by Simon Barter's Bertie, with six race wins so far. However, going into the final race many boats lower down the fleet were separated by only handful of points. Penny Carter's Pisces was away first, although Barter was quicker in getting his spinnaker filled, so the two boats were neck and neck within seconds. At the finish two boats were a full 10 minutes ahead of the fleet - Bertie and Simon Clark's Jenny.
Although Roger Wickens' Danny had a clear lead in the Sunbeam class, at the start of the final race only two points separated Tim Hill's Query and Julian Money's Penny in second and third places.
At today's start Danny was half a length ahead of Penny, and was first to set the spinnaker. Query and Richard Pearson's Fay followed in the wake of Danny, while Penny headed closer inshore on a higher course. Danny won today's race, with Fay second, just three seconds ahead of Peter Nicholson and Mike Hollis's Dainty, and Penny fourth, leaving the overall positions at the top of the fleet unchanged.
The front-runners in the Redwing class - Matt Alexander and John Raymond's Harlequin and Nick Woolgar and Justin Biddle's Goose - were separated by only one point going into the final race. At the start of today's race they were well back in the fleet - Rupert Gosling's Goose was first away, half a length ahead of George Greenwood's Rosetta. Caroline Peel's Redstart ll, helmed by son Edmund, who was freed today from racing on board IRC Class Two winner La Response, was soon half a length ahead.
At the finish Goose held a lead of more than three minutes on Annie, Joe and Bel Robertson's Red Gauntlet ll. Peel crossed the line 15 seconds later to take third, but Harlequin only managed fourth. Goose therefore took the overall lead from Harlequin by two points, with Rosetta third.
At the Swallow start, Harry Roome's Skua, already confirmed as class winner, was first away with spinnaker filled at the gun, but sailed much higher than the bulk of the fleet. This left Jeremy Buckwell and Peter Bond's Boomerang and Charles Fisher and Richard Thompson's Migrant looking in a good position at the head of the main pack.
At the finish, however, Roome was again ahead, with a lead of 37 seconds on Paul Ward's Cockerscootie, with Will Kalderon's Dart third. With only three points separating places two to six in the overall results, Anthony Lunch's Solitude moved up to second place, while Migrant moved up from fifth to third.
Flying 15 class winners Rupert and John Mander's Men Behaving Badly were absent today, leaving the way open for Nick Clarke's Black to get the best start, with Adam Cowley's Ffloozie and Andrew and Andrea Millband's Fifty Fifty following very close behind, all at the northern end of the line.
Black finished 12 seconds in front of Fifty Fifty, consolidating her second place overall, but today's good result for the Millbands only lifted their series result by one place, to fourth, a single point behind Colin Ward and Mark Winkles' Sea-Jay.
Teenage sailor Fred Warren-Smith has again won the Squib class, this time by a margin of 10 points. Going into the final race, Roly Wilson's Incognito was looking reasonably secure with an 11-point margin for second place, but five boats were in contention for third overall. Today Warren-Smith led in towards the line with 30 seconds to go, but was a little early, handing the advantage to the boats that had hoisted spinnakers behind her. Stephen Porter's Polyphagus took a brief lead, although Chris Gear and Andy Foulks' Osprey got ahead, while W N Stowe and J T Foster's Captain Mainwaring was hard on the heels of both boats.
Although Warren-Smith was back in seventh at the start, he coolly worked his way up through the fleet to finish nearly two minutes ahead of Peter Wilson's Crazy Diamond, while Incognito was third, 25 seconds later. Incognito held her second place overall, but Wilson leap-frogged Porter to take third by one point.
The Mermaid was another class in which the first two boats overall - Richard Prest's Halluf and Alexandra, Andrew and Jo Neill's Sirena - had a comfortable cushion, but only four points separated seven contenders for third place overall.
A win today for Richard Ambler, John Edwards and Josephine Smith's Adastra was only enough to lift them to 10th overall, but a second for Helen Birchenough's Scuttle helped her to second. Although Sirena was able to discard her disappointing 13th place today she slipped to third overall, just two points behind Scuttle.
Black Group classes were racing today for individual trophies, their overall series having finished on Friday. A new class for this year, and racing only on the final day, is for cruisers racing under the Island Sailing Club's Rating System, as used for the majority of the Round the Island Race fleets.
Chris Burleigh's First 27.7 Yogi was OCS at the start, and although she dipped back to return, didn't go far enough to restart. This left David Stupples' Hanse 400e Dragon of Wessex as the best placed boat on the line, usefully to windward of the majority of the fleet. However, Stupples was sailing considerably lower than Nigel Gatehouse's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42i Arcturus of Southampton and soon lost his early advantage. James Stableford's Mumm 36 Panther, sporting a nice looking set of laminate sails was doing best at this stage. However, she proved no match for Christopher Smith's 36-year-old Half Tonner Impensible ll, who won the class by more than five minutes on corrected time.
Full results here
From Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com