Gentle opener for Swan Europeans
Day 1 of the Swan European Regatta dawned with very little wind and a glassy calm Solent, but glorious sunshine which resulted in a postponement for the fleet. Shortly after midday, the sea breeze started to build and by 1400 the Race Committee from the Royal Yacht Squadron were able to start the first race of the event in a light 5-8 knot breeze.
With an 11 mile course taking the Swan 45 Class and Class A from the Squadron Line to West Lepe, East Lepe and finally Salt Mead before heading back down the Solent under spinnaker to the Squadron Line to finish, the pressure was on from the start. The Swan 45 fleet were away cleanly on the first start but in Class A, in their first race the brand new Swan 53 Raika, owned by Jamshyd Godrej from India pushed the line a little too hard and found themselves having to return to re-start. Magical Mystery Tour, Club Swan 42 raced by the Leask Family also turned back to cross the line, but then quickly found clear wind and began to push the high performance Swan hard – they were quickly amongst the front runners and upwind crossed tacks back and forth with Colin Buffin’s Swan 62 Uxorious. The light airs favoured Magical Mystery Tour heavily and once they turned downwind she extended her lead, finishing almost three minutes ahead of Uxorious on the water and winning by a little over two minutes on corrected time from their sistership Baraka GP, raced by the de Graaf Family.
Edward Leask, owner of Magical Mystery Tour, commented: “It was a great day, fantastic weather. The race committee were really sensible to delay the start by 3 to 4 hours and then we had a nice 10 knot breeze. We went for the pin end on starboard. We thought we had got it absolutely spot on and then we heard a second gun go so as we popped out in front by quite a long way, we presumed it had to be us over. We went back to start again. Subsequently we found out it was another boat over a long way out. So we went back and we didn’t need to. Despite that by the time we got to the first mark we had got back into the lead and we were really delighted to get both line honours and, I now discover, first on corrected time as well. Great day and fantastic team on board.”
Samantaga, the Swan 45 jointly owned by Philippe Moortgat and Patrick van Heurck led from the outset to take the gun to start the regatta in style. Glynn Williams, racing his Swan 45 WISC, drew upon his crew’s significant local knowledge to fight through to second place at the first mark which he held until the finish line. Third place was clinched by Peter de Ridder sailing with his family onboard the Swan 45 Checkmate.
Philippe Moortgat, co-owner of Swan 45 Samantaga, commented: “It was a nice day. The current in Cowes is also something quite new for us so we have to look at this a lot but it was good. The fleet was fast. We had a good start and were very comfortable have a good start. Happy today, very happy. It’s a good way to begin. It’s a long week so wait and see.”
Class B sailed a slightly shorter, 9.5 mile course around the Western Solent. The Scottish team onboard the Swan 40 Sloop John T, took line honours and then won on corrected time by 20 seconds from David Segel’s Swan 40 Christina. Ray Mitchell’s Swan 411 Accomplice round out the podium for Class B.
Class C’s 8 mile long course took them from the Squadron Line up to Gurnard Ledge, to North East Gurnard, to Cowes Radio and then back for a finish in a dying sea breeze off the Squadron Line. Jacobite, the Swan 38 raced by Stephen James, continued her domination of handicap racing in the Solent to win by 22 seconds on corrected time from the Swan 43 Cisne, raced by Tony Thorpe. Third place went to the stunning Swan 36 Cecille.