18:42 Monday 31 Jul 2023 Sue Pelling/CWLDay 3 round-up

Paul Wyeth/CWL

With a forecast indicating a good chance of getting back on the water today following yesterday’s abandonment of all racing, there was an air of excitement in Cowes this morning. Even the miserable early morning drizzle failed to dampen the spirits of competitors, and it was a relief it all went to plan on the racecourse particularly as it was in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal who was on the water watching the racing on Royal Navy Day and Charity Day. Back on shore competitors and visitors were treated to a parade of the Band of HM Royal Marines who marched through the town to the Royal Yacht Squadron.

The west-south-westerly airflow, although significantly less than yesterday’s blow-out was still hitting 20+ kts, which made for another exciting day.

Revelling in the sort of conditions they were designed for was IRC 1, racing for the Sir Walter Preston Cup. After a close battle vying for position on the start line, the fleet headed out on a long tactical beat west to Hamstead Ledge where they enjoyed another day of close, ‘round the cans’ racing in the western Solent. It seemed to pay to stick to the left-hand side on the beat and take advantage of the outgoing tide.

Per Roman and his team on the Swedish flagged JPK 1180 Garm (pictured above leading the fleet) improved on their first day’s second place with a race win today in winds that topped out at 23kts. They took the race from Alex and Andy Moore’s Beneteau First 40 Tilt that finished sixth on the opening day.

Gustavo Martinez, Garm’s tactician, said it was a fantastic day of racing and they knew what they needed to work on to improve after the first day. “The first beat; keeping in the tide and playing the shifts was important but it was the tight reach, where we hoisted our reaching sail rather than just the jib, that helped us gain a lot. It was only a mile long leg, but having that sail up was key. Also judging the layline to the finish, when to cross from the north shore to the finish line in the strong tide, was another key part of the race. We were also super focused today and concentrated on our performance target numbers, which really helped.”

IRC Class 5 produced one of the best starts of the day with the likes of Giovanni Belgrano’s Whooper, and Peter and Alison Morton’s Scherzo of Cowes, delighting spectators with a fine display of tactical racing by playing the shifts and working their way to windward while making the most of the strong, favourable ebbing tide.

However, it was Ian Handley and his family team aboard the 1996 Mustang 30 Mk2 Banter, who really impressed today after a poor start comeback that resulted in winning today’s Dawson Trophy. A delighted Handley commenting on the day’s racing said: “Yes, our start wasn’t that impressive because we were basically late across the line having had to dip another boat. However, we managed to get a good lane out into the main channel and picked up a favourable shift, which was a turning point in the race. Also, the boat is really fast downwind in anything above 20kts so that was a bonus too. Overall though, we are delighted to be in a position of leading the class against Whooper, and Scherzo of Cowes – two former overall Black Group winners.”

Also, special mention should be made of Murray MacDonald and team on Autism on the Water (AOTW) – the charity’s Hunter 707. Having raced at Cowes Week for the first time last year, they are back racing in IRC Class 5 to continue spreading the all-important message of awareness of autism.

There was no sign of ‘cruising’ at the start in Performance Cruiser A, which saw a certain amount of pushing on the line with Charlie Esse X4.3 Baby X and

Richard Dilley’s B&C Grand Soleil 46 Belladonna, both victims of premature starts (OCS). Playing the game cool however, was Chris Cecil-Wright and his well-seasoned team aboard the Nicholson 1970-built Bermudian 55 Eager who sailed a tactically sound race to achieve their first win of the week beating Andy Robinson’s X 4.3 Xcapade. Cecil-Wright said it was all about good teamwork today. “We were sailing with our regular crew today, which meant we were able to fly the spinnaker properly. Also, we went for two reefs in the main and full jib, and we managed to stay in the deep water and shake off two big Swans. It was an absolute terrific day and we’re looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.”

The Sunsail 41 always musters a good international fleet that enjoys close yet fun racing and this year is no exception with the likes of Jennifer Hinkel’s Sunsail Solaris – California Luffin team from San Francisco Bay, and Dean Chisholm’s Hyde Sails – Hong Kong Phoeys part of the international team this week. Cowes Week regular Borge Leth is also back again this year aboard Raymarine Simply Superior – Don’t Panik.

A first class race was enjoyed by all with the US team headed by Hinkel taking a well deserved win from Jon Nabney’s Southampton Sailing Week. Commenting from the dockside, Hinkel said they are delighted to win: “Most of us sail together at least on a couple of different boats out in San Francisco. It is a little bit of a challenge to learn a new boat but we seemed to be in good shape today.”

It was good to see competitors and visitors out and about supporting charity day, in particular Tall Ships Youth Trust – the Cowes Week Official Charity. This charity plays an important role to help young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to realise their full potential.

Finally, the overall winner of the Weekend Warrior Trophy presented by the Cruising Association was won by the team from C’est Si Bon (Beneteau Oceanis 37) in Club Cruiser C. A special presentation took place at the Royal Yacht Squadron this afternoon. The team expressing their delight in winning this inaugural trophy for the three-day mini series said: “We have been competing in Cowes Week for the last 15 years and we were extremely excited to be able to compete for a special weekend trophy. We are absolutely thrilled to win this new award particularly as today we had only half the crew we had on Saturday.”