SEAVIEW sailor Sir Ben Ainslie – the most successful Olympic sailor of all time – was in the thick of the action on day four of Cowes Week.
At the helm of Bertie Bicket’s IC37 Fargo in IRC Class Zero, Ainslie demonstrated how seriously the top teams take their racing.
Sharper winds and warm weather provided another day of excitement on the fourth day of Cowes Week yesterday (Tuesday).
At the end of a race of almost 30 miles, mainly in the eastern Solent, Christian Zugel’s Fast 40 Tschuss took the honors, just ahead of Ian Atkin’s GP42 Dark n Stormy.
However, the lower-rated Fargo powered them both to win on corrected time, by a margin of 53 seconds.
It was also Women’s Day (the former Women’s Day) at the regatta, which celebrated the contribution and achievements of women in sailing.
The sailors compete in all classes, including one bar out of six. The most successful boat, with an all-female crew, was Janet Dee’s squib Little Demon, which won the Mermaid Trophy for best female crew.
Of the other smaller boats competing at the regatta, the J/70 and SB20 classes have both completed their 12-race mini-series – which took place over the first four days of the regatta.
Both classes took decisive victories, with John Pollard’s Xcellent taking an unbroken string of race victories to claim the SB20 Grand Slam, 13 points ahead of Phil Tiley’s Tan Gwyllt.
Results were more mixed in the J/70 class, but Australian visitor Tim Ryan’s Vamos finally took the overall win — ten points clear of fellow countryman Sam Haynes’ Celestial.
A large rising tide, combined with uneven winds near the coasts, created challenges for competitors starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron line, where there was a mix of big pressure balls and huge lulls.
The start sequence took place shortly after low tide, creating an additional complication in the form of Grantham Rocks, just west of the start, which a number of competitors stranded on at the start of their race.
With the wind predicted to increase to over 20 knots, with stronger gusts, many boats were carrying reefed mainsails at the start.
However, this magnified their losses in lulls, especially offshore in the strongest adverse tide.
In IRC Class 6, the class leading boat after the first three races, Peter and Alison Morton’s immaculately restored classic Swan 36 Scherzo from Cowes, took a line further offshore and claimed a third victory this week.
A big part of the magic of Cowes Week is that everyone, from newcomers to sailing to the world’s most accomplished professionals, races in the same conditions and on the same stretches of water.
Today, the Sunsail 41.0 fleet, as well as both classes of cruisers, had courses with relatively long legs that involved fewer complex maneuvers than boats in the more capable fleets, with Deloitte claiming a fourth consecutive victory.
In the Club Cruiser Blue start, Chris Morris’ immaculate Cowes Morris 36 Chameleon had a good cannon position, but Scandal took the win at the end of the two-hour, 40-minute race.
The day ended with a Women’s Day awards ceremony, as well as a panel discussion with elite sailors, including Volvo Ocean Race veterans Libby Greenhalgh and Emily Nagel, who discussed their career path and recent developments in women’s racing opportunities at Grand Prix level.