Cowes Week Day Six Round Up

Black Group classes on the RYS line started going west, with spinnakers popping up in the final 30 seconds before each start. The J/92 class held its national championships over the first four days of Cowes Week, but all but two boats are still competing. Today Taylor, Greenhalgh and Bexon's J'Ronimo started closest to the line at the southern end, but Neilson Redeye was the first of two boats to sail though to leeward with superior speed in the opening 10 minutes of the race.

With the Sigma 33 start having been brought forward to 0930, at the class's request to give them a six-and-a-half hour race, there was time for an outbound tanker, the 60,000 tonne Navion Akarita, to slip through the line without delaying with the start sequence.

The Contessa 32 class took a slightly more timid approach to the start, with no boats having a spinnaker set at the gun. Ray Rouse's Blanco, already the top-scoring boat in this class was first away from the start, followed by Simon and Kay Porter's Equator.

IRC Class 6 saw the fleet spread out across the line, with a trio of boats closest to the committee boat looking good on starboard gybe, while a second group towards the southern end of the line were led by Brian Cooper's First 375 Little Spirit. Five minutes into the race, however, John Brattan and Andrew Lambert's Software Mistress Team 88 and Phil Eagleton's Half Tonner Sevcon Team Chia Chia held an early lead over the fleet.

The final Black Group start on the RYS line was for the OnDeck class, with Spirit of Isis capitalising on an initial advantage to pull out a large lead in the early stages of the race.

Vying for position

The final start of the day, heading west from the inner part of the RYS line, was for the XOD class. This is the largest class at Cowes this year, with 88 entries, although up to 120 are expected for the class centenary next year. Competition is always super-close in this class and, with scores of boats vying for the same spot in the line, it looked as though there was no way a general recall could be avoided with one minute to go before the gun. However, the tide was strong enough to carry the slow-moving mass of boats behind the line and it was clear at the start, with almost the entire fleet towards the offshore end.

Lisa and Stuart Childerley's Palassie, however, adopted a different strategy, tacking onto port close behind the inner distance mark. It was a perfectly-executed manoeuvre that that gave an impressive 12-length lead in the first 90 seconds of the race. A little further offshore from Childerley, Steve and Peter Lawrence and Patrick Smart's Catherine also had a great start, with these two boats leading the fleet as they short-tacked past the Green.

Having clean air helps in a big fleet - half an hour and dozens of tacks later, these two boats retained the lead as they passed Gurnard SC. However Catherine now had the advantage on Palassie, as they lined up to follow the rest of the White Group boats short tacking through the narrow passage inshore of Gurnard Ledge.

A quarter of a mile offshore, the Etchells fleet was heading towards the finish under spinnaker, led by Graham and Stephen Bailey's Arbitrator, Mark Downer's Moonlight and Robert Elliot's Esprit. Bailey crossed the line a moment before 1336, to take the first finishing cannon fired for a White Group boat in more than 30 years. Bailey is one of only two competitors at this stage of the regatta to have scored a straight run of firsts, along with Rupert and John Mander's Flying 15 Men Behaving Badly. Both are confirmed as class winners with a day to spare.

Black Group finish

As they approached the Black Group finish line off East Cowes just before 1500, two J/92s - J'Ronimo and Andy Howe and Annie Kelly's Blackjack - were almost neck and neck. The Taylor, Greenhalgh and Bexon team on J'Ronimo took the winning gun by a margin of just five seconds, while Andrew Dallas's Hullabaloo crossed the line seven minutes later to take third place.

Ian Braham's MG346 Enigma, one of the highest rated boats in IRC Class 6, finished at 1500, taking line honours in the class. Benefiting from her good start, John Brattan and Andrew Lambert's Sigma 362 Software Mistress Team 88 (which rates the same as Enigma) followed a shade over three minutes later. Both boats were able to save their time on handicap, with third place on corrected time going to Rory Fitzwilliams' Three-Quarter Tonner Simplicity.

Spirit of Isis retained her impressive early lead in the OnDeck class, finishing almost 20 minutes ahead of sistership Spirit of Juno. Having made the best start if the day in the IRC (no spinnaker) class, Andrew Yates' Dufour 44 Piccolo crossed the line at 1513, winning on corrected time from Bruce Mauleverer's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 DS Prospero by almost 13 minutes.

Just under 10 minutes later, when the first of the Contessa 32s were approaching the finish, Blanco and Equator had lost their early lead to Michael Hill's Nimbus and Ken Mizen and Don Laing's Blue Shark. Blanco's third place means she remains overall class leader going into the final two days of the regatta.

There are 15 boats competing in the Tacktick Suunto Sigma 33 Class Championship this week, and today was their long-distance race - a 34-mile epic lasting almost seven hours. At the finish only five minutes separated the first seven boats, with three of these - Jeff Worboys' Workout, Mark Allerston's Alexa and Mark Watkins' Spirit of Kudu - just 53 seconds apart in a nail-biting finish. The winning gun, however, went to Richard Puddifoot's Whippa Snappa, consolidating his overall lead in the class.

Windy White Group Finish

In the western Solent the wind had increased to give gusts of over 20 knots as the first XOD, Steve and Peter Lawrence and Patrick Smart's Catherine, was approaching the finish just before 1615. The front-runners were well spread out, with Catherine holding a lead of two minutes 22 seconds on James Meaning's Venus in second place, and a further two minutes passed before the third boat, Barney Sandeman's Anitra, crossed the line.

After the race Sandeman said, "Our third today is certainly going to help our overall score. It's a tough fleet and difficult to be consistent with so many boats, so many variables and very good competition - you have to keep changing gears. I'm sailing with the legendary Robert Bedford and Jonathan Abbott from Parkstone, Poole."

At the finish Palassie had slipped to sixth - still a very respectable result in this class. Talking about today's race Stuart Childerley said, "We had a great start, port tacked the fleet and led for quite a while. It took us two laps to get the boat going - it's all a bit new for us - but eventually we got it going, stopped losing places and pulled back two or three places on the last lap. It was hard out there and now we're quite familiar with that island coast all the way up past Gurnard. There are some big rocks there, luckily we didn't hit any."

In Black Group the overall winners of five classes are now decided. A third win for Rick Garret's Jeroboam saw him secure victory in the very competitive 35-strong J/109 class. Similarly, a fourth win enabled Carl Hennix's Seacart 30 True Look take victory in the Multihull class.

Although Willem Wester's Grand Soleil 43 Antilope slipped to fifth place in today's race for IRC Class 1, with a run of four firsts and a third earlier in the week her overall win is secure. A fifth place today was also enough for Andy Budgen and Fred Schwyn's Sigma 38 The Project to secure her overall class title by a comfortable margin. IRC Class 3, a third win for Iain Kirkpatrick's X-37 Fatjax gained her overall first place in class with just nine points.

In addition to the Etchells and Flying 15s, the winners of two other White Group classes have now emerged. With a string of firsts under her belt, a second place today for Roger Wickens' Sunbeam Danny took her to overall victory. As in previous years, Jeremy Lear and John Tremlett's Zinnia has dominated the front of the Victory class, with four wins to add to their aggregate score of 61 Cowes Week race wins at the start of the week.

Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes

Today's five races resulted in another change in the leaderboard for the Extreme 40s. The Wave, Muscat finished the series 14 points ahead of Mike Golding's Ecover Sailing Team, with Groupe Edmund de Rothschild in third place overall.

Source Rupert Holmes/CWL

Date Added - 06-Aug-2010

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