Wednesday was a day of triumph for some and disappointment for others on the third day of Cowes Classics Week as the Course Race Officers struggled to find enough wind to set courses for the majority of the keelboat classes.
The ghosting south westerly looked promising at times. It then disappeared and reappeared enough times to keep would be sailors waiting on moorings in Cowes Roads in the sunshine and heat which topped 32 degrees according to the team on Race Circuit 2 .
The wait was a long one for the Gaffer class. They watched as the larger Red 1, Red 2 Green and Blue classes got away on the fixed line of the organising club, the Royal London Yacht Club only for the wind to fall away again before their own start. The Gaffers opted to wait until they had at least a chance to make some way up the west going tide before finally getting their start underway.
It was worth the wait for Ossie Stewart and his all-star crew on board Dorothy, a Thames Rater built in 1894. Olympic Soling medallist Ossie called the shots while another Olympic medallist Andy Cassell steered the boat to take their third win of the week putting them firmly in the lead seven points ahead of David Pennisons Golant Gaffer Satellite.
Ossie recently acquired Dorothy, a Lynton Hope design, racing it only last week for the first time. He explained “I’ve always enjoyed sailing classic boats and Dorothy sails really quickly for a small boat. Her light weight and performance is the secret to our success so far. She moves through the water really well.”
Ossie and his crew enjoyed some close racing with Rosenn, the first ever Solent One Design to be built, back in 1896. The two were neck and neck up the first beat creating a superb spectacle of a former era. Rosenn’s owner and helmsman Bob Fisher described the race. “Our first fetch (Gaffers don’t sail too close to the wind) turned into a bit of a reach and we got ahead of Dorothy stretching out our lead although she eventually beat us on handicap. The wind was very fluky and we ended up putting a spinnaker up before the first mark, the second and the third!”
The oldest boat in the entire Cowes Classics Week fleet, Plymouth Hooker Spinaway X owned by Andrew Hitt, was racing in the same class. The yacht is a staggering 129 years old and still holding her own on the Gaffer fleet race course.
Other classes were not so lucky today. Try as they might the race officers could not find the magic wind ingredient in the other race areas to get the keelboat classes underway, coupled with the fact that, since the majority don’t have engines, they would have struggled to get home in a dying breeze on the later east going tide. After a long wait the XODs, Darings, Vintage Dragons, National Swallows, Flying Fifteens, Solent Sunbeams and Etchells all had their racing abandoned for the day.
However, there was a better outcome for the Victory Class. Designed by Alfred Westmacott in 1904, nine Victories enjoyed three windward leeward courses on this, their only race day, with two wins going to Kim Taylor in Zest and one to Ian Perryman in Zilch.
The Victory class continues to thrive, with new GRP boats built in the last few years. The class came over from Portsmouth to Cowes Classics Week for the first time in 2017 to see what it was all about and it was good to see increased numbers of them back this year. The Victory is similar in looks to the X One Design, and like the XOD from the same designer, was created for the conditions in the Solent.
The seven Loch Longs who made the slow trip to the start line also completed two races on the same Course Circuit. The 1937 one designs which made the trip to Cowes Classics Week from Aldeburgh in Suffolk took advantage of what wind was available to complete their windward/leewards. Jonathan Evans in Tantrum and Rod Fletcher in Vela shared a win each. Trantrum leads on the scoreboard after five races.
The day was also a good race day for the cruiser classes. Red 1, Red 2, Blue, Green and Folkboat classes all completed Solent courses in light breezes. Lawrence Wride’s vintage One Tonner Sunmaid V held on to her series lead with a second place today, beaten only by Douglas Peniston’s Polar Bear. In Red 2 Andrew Pearson’s 79-year-old 10 metre Bojar continued to dominate, gaining her third first place in as many days, ahead of the equally elegant 30 square metre Richard Hargreaves’ Aeolus.
Andrew Christie in his Falmouth Pilot Lynas felt victory for the first time this week with a win in the Blue Class and William Edwards had the same thrill winning the Green Class in his Contessa 26 Jiminy Cricket.
In the Folkboat Class Claire Locke, sailing her Yarmouth based The Otter, pulled out a big lead to finish some 13 minutes ahead of Alistair Mclean’s Eala.
Hopes are high for a bit more wind tomorrow, the penultimate day of racing.
The organising club, the Royal London Yacht Club, is supported by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club and Island Sailing Club. The famous RLYC tea parties are once again taking place every afternoon and there is a full calendar of evening social events.
Cowes Classics Week is supported by sponsors Charles Stanley Direct, Winkworth, Red Funnel, Cowes Harbour Commission, Kendalls Fine Art, Clare Lallows boatyard, Classic Boat magazine, Zhik clothing and Robert Oatley Fine Wines.
The historic Gaffer fleet finds wind to start a race.
The duel is on between Gaffers Rosenn and Dorothy.
Close racing for the Victorys during their one-day guest appearance.
Class 2 finds enough wind fo some close quarters battles.
Never a dull moment in the Solent for Gaffer Rosenn.
- ends –
David Gower, Regatta Chairman
Gill Smith, PRO
Nicky Symonds, Regatta Secretary
Photo credit: Tim Jeffreys
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Telephone: 07774 623 539