Swan grand finale
The fifth and final day of the Swan European Regatta got underway again in bright sunshine. There was a simmer of tension detected on the dock as crews were preparing for their ultimate day of racing. A lack of wind early this morning meant it was touch and go but a full 11 knots WSWerly kicked in right on cue to allow the first race to start on time. All the courses sent the Swans west off the Squadron Line providing them with further Solent waters not yet sailed. By the second race the wind was up to gusts of 25 knots and in all Classes winners of the Swan European Regatta 2011 were down to the wire on the last race. The Solent has certainly lived up to expectations this week, throwing a mixture of weather conditions and wind speeds at the crews.
The Swan 45 Class, as expected, did not disappoint spectators on their first start of the day. Peter de Ridder’s Checkmate took her position on the line early as did Philippe Moortgat and Patrick van Heurck’s Samantaga. Unfortunately Samantaga pushed the line just that little bit too hard and was individually recalled.
Meanwhile, huge amounts of shouting between crews could be heard from the starting platform as close tacking was going on upwind, reflecting the pressure on today. Glynn Williams on WISC demonstrated some superb helming as did Van Uden owned by Harm and Lionel Miller and Rob Reigwein’s Hawkeye who were all causing fans on the green to gasp. With all the initial manoeuvres for clear air and water performed, the fleet set off in their clear lanes up the first leg of the course to Salt Mead before taking them to East Lepe, West Lepe and back to the Squadron Line to finish. The first race was taken by Hawkeye, followed by Richard Cotter’s Nemo of Cowes and WISC leaving the final race as all to play for.
The second race saw a building breeze of 17-20 knots gusting 25 knots at the start. Wind on a strong tide resulted in choppy water to be negotiated. Approaching the line was done at speed but from a distance. WISC had a great start with her nose ahead of the rest, maintaining this extension by tacking on Hawkeye as she tacked straight off the line. But Hawkeye was on fire and finished with their second bullet of the day. WISC came in fourth in the final race of the regatta but it was just enough to maintain their much deserved first place position overall.
On the downwind leg from Gurnard Ledge to South Bramble the fleet were still within 10 boat lengths of each other, all taking the direct route except Motion which broke away from the fleet to get out of the tide. Checkmate was chasing WISC’s tail for the leading position downwind.
Class A, set to sail on the same course as the Swan 45 Class, were also showing over excitement at the line. Three boats were individually recalled although there seemed to be some delay in returning to the line. Club Swan 42 Baraka GP sailed by the De Graaf family timed their start to perfection which certainly gave them the advantage at the start, while defending winners Club Swan 42 Magical Mystery Tour sailed by the Leask family was early, throwing the race wide open. Baraka GP won the first race on corrected time and Magical Mystery Tour managed to sail their way up into third position from their individual recall.
Race Two of the day for Class A was close for many as most of the fleet were nearly over having to duck back to the line in order to stay behind. Those who were on course side struggled to get back against the tide. Baraka GP put in a sterling performance achieving a third place in race two and securing second position overall at the end of the final day, just missing the pole position, which was taken by Magical Mystery Tour after a win in the final race of the regatta.
Edward Leask owner of Magical Mystery Tour said: “We put ourselves under real pressure by a premature start in the first race and then not only had to win the next race but rely on boats behind us finishing in a theoretical order. Sometimes God is on your side!”
Class B upped the ante with their start today, a few shouts could be heard between the boats as Swan 391 Delnic owned by Benoit Rousselion and the Swan 46 Taika fought hard to get their bows in front. The crew on the Swan 40 Christina made the decision to tack early in a bid for clean air. Harald Baum’s Swan 48 Elan certainly left tacking to the last minute as shouts for water could be heard from the starting platform. Earlier decisions by the crew on Christina clearly paid off as they came in second while Elan scored a respectable fourth place for race seven of the regatta.
The second start for Class B saw the majority of the fleet over the line so were individually recalled. Similarly to Class A, those who were over struggled back to the Squadron Line against the tide. Elan pulled it out of the bag to win the final race of the regatta. Harald Baum commented: “The race was very close with two other boats, Christina and Sloop John T. We fought the whole week against them, it was great fun. And I think it was very good that Sloop John T won overall, we won the race today and we did our utmost.” Sloop John T joint owned by Iain and Graham Tomson scored a second spot securing first place in the European Regatta.
Class C also piled the pressure on as Stephen James’ Swan 38 Jacobite pushed the line considerably achieving a well timed start. The Swan 43 Cisne joint owned by David Collins and Tony Thorpe also got caught up in the excitement of the start and were individually recalled. Once Class C had all started cleanly they set off to Gurnard Ledge, Quinnel, then Cowes Radio before finishing back at the Squadron Line. Despite Cisne’s return to the line they won the race with Alvine XV in second and Jacobite coming in third.
Class C had observed previous class’s mistakes and started without a second gun. Swan 38 Tangoroa owned by Christopher Vickery was first over the line gaining an advantage on the rest of the fleet. Alvine XV won the second race securing their position at the top of the leader board. Alastair Evans owner of Alvine XV said: “I’m over the moon, it’s been a brilliant regatta. One of the best I’ve done for a long time.” Cisne also had a fantastic second race coming in second taking second place overall in Class C.
This marks the end of the 15th edition of the Swan European Regatta which has provided an incredible week of race action which everyone has thoroughly enjoyed with Nautor’s Swan.
Full results here