The Britannia Cup at Cowes Week

Published on August 11th, 2016

Cowes, UK (August 11, 2016) – Today’s racing at the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week started in an unstable westerly breeze of 10-14 knots that gradually swung towards the north-west through the morning. It increased to give gusts in the upper teens as the thin cloud over the Solent broke up, giving way to long sunny periods.

The first start of the day was for the Artemis Challenge in which two state of the art multihulls, Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo 3 and the M32 Tranwall, headed off for what they hoped would be a record-breaking blast around the Isle of Wight. Phaedo powered up her rig 15 seconds before the start and accelerated rapidly, with her central hull already starting to lift clear of the water as the gun fired.

The giant trimaran flew around most of the course but was slowed when she had to tack up the eastern Solent, eventually finishing in a time of almost exactly three hours. However, it was almost 40 minutes outside the outright record set by legendary French sailor Michel Desjoyeaux in the same boat four years ago.

By the time of the XOD start on the Royal Yacht Sqaudaron line at 1325 the wind was mostly over 15 knots, with some stronger gusts and big shifts. The outer end of the line was strongly favoured, with many boats gathered there and already on course side a minute before the start. Most scooped back to restart correctly, but Michael O’Donnell’s Lightwood, Peter Lawrence and Justin and Patrick Smart’s Falconet, plus John Sparshatt-Worley and Chris Torrens’ Madcap were all scored OCS.

Neil Payne, and Dugald and Nicola Henderson’s Sirena led away from the mid part of the line, but subsequently crossed astern of the leading group of starboard tack boats. Within a few minutes the overall class leader, Richard Bullock, Jeremy Lear and Ian Andrew’s Lass, was already among the best placed boats as she made mostly very short tacks along the Green against the incoming tide.

Paul Woodman, Oliver James and Simon (Cake) McCarthy’s Ibex, Roger Yeoman and Mike Moss’ Xcitation, and Keith Tippell and Matthew Holmes’ Aora were also in contention at this stage, along with yesterday’s winner, James Meaning’s Gleam. To observers on the Platform at the Royal Yacht Squadron the fleet gave the impression of a massive game of dodgems along the shore, with many port tack boats having to repeatedly duck behind half a dozen starboard tackers.

There was no respite from this before the fleet had to make the critical decision of where to start the long port tack across the tide to East Lepe, their windward mark on the north side of the deep water channel. Kim Slater, Robert Bedford and Ted Tredrea’s Madeleine judged this to perfection and led around the mark. They went on to win their first race of the regatta, finishing 51 seconds ahead of Lass. Andy Oddie, Freddie Blencke, Kevin Lindsay and Justin Eede’s Magic Dragon took third place just ahead of Ibex.

“It was a tough race and to beat Jeremy Lear in Lass, the current overall leader, is a real bonus,” said Slater. “We managed to choose the exact right time to tack out to East Lepe and led at that first mark, so we’re very pleased with our first place today.” With two races left to go Lass still leads the fleet, on 11 points, with Xcitation second on 13 points and Gleam third on 20 points.

Today the grand-prix FAST40+ class was racing for one of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week’s most prestigious trophies, the Britannia Cup. The fleet started from the Black Group Committee Vessel, racing on a 25-mile course before a downwind finish on the Royal Yacht Squadron line.

Bill Coates’ Texan Ker 43 Otra Vez had a great start and was the first boat to reach lifting pressure, securing a lead that remained unbroken for the entire race. Today’s win, three minutes ahead of Peter Morton’s Carkeek 40 Girls on Film, was Coates’ second of the regatta. Sir Keith Mills Ker 40+ Invictus was third, having been hampered by a backstay problem.

“Ed Peel sails on board Otra Vez and is a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. Tonight he will have dinner at the club with the honour of the trophy at his table.” smiled Coates. “I see what that means to him and it makes me realize what an honor it is to win the Britannia Cup.”

This is another class in which the overall results remain wide open. With just one race to go Girls on Film is counting 9 points, Invictus 10 points and Ortra Vez 12 points. The pressure will therefore be on all the top teams tomorrow, when they will also be competing for another of the regatta’s most coveted trophies, the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup.

IRC Class 6 was subjected to a short postponement while the race committee re-laid the Bramble line to take account of the wind shifting towards the north west. Nevertheless, there was still plenty of noisy action at the committee boat end of the line.

Bernard Fyan’s Mustang 30 Erik the Red was first away, followed by Andrew Haining and Patrick Seely’s Rustler 33 Flute, with David Krikley’s Nicholson 39 Conteza, and John Wardle’s Swan 40 Aelana also looking well placed. Stuart Greenfield’s Half Tonner Silver Shamrock and Kevin Downer and Tim Eccles’ diminutive Jeanneau Fun Ziggy were the first two boats to split from the fleet onto port tack.

The highest rated boat in the fleet, Simon Cory’s Cory Yachts 290 Icom Cool Blue, took line honors, 26 seconds ahead of Dudley Stock’s X-302 Xtract. However, one of the lower rated boats, Chris and Roger Frost’s Swan 36 Finola, took first place on corrected time, 67 seconds ahead of Xtract, with Icom Cool Blue taking third on handicap, ahead of Silver Shamrock.

The start of IRC Class 7 was a more dignified affair, with Jo Richards’ H-Boat Woof getting the best start at the committee boat end of the line, ahead of John Mulcahy’s Stella 26 Estrella, Ed and Bella Donald’s Folkboat Madelaine and another H-Boat, Dave Wright’s Hubble Bubble. Richards finished with a 15 minute advantage on the water to take his fifth win of the regatta. Estrella took second on corrected time, 45 seconds ahead of Madelaine.

The Figaro 2 class started in a tight bunch, with Will Harris’ Artemis 77 furthest to windward near the committee boat, while Mary Rook’s Artemis 37 was ahead but to leeward, from where she was slowly overhauled by Sam Matson’s Chatham. Alan Roberts’ Sea Cat Services was the first to tack onto starboard. With three boats retiring, Hugh Brayshaw’s Artemis 23 led the fleet home, 64 seconds ahead of Mary Rook, with Roberts taking third place.

Events this evening included the Fine Art Sails race, held in Star class keelboats, each with a mainsail design created by a different artist. Find out more at www.fineartsails.com. Later in the evening there was a spectacular aerobatic display by the Red Arrows, which were brought to the regatta by Artemis Investment Management.

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Report By Rupert Holmes

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