The third day of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week dawned with unpromising weather forecasts – at one stage the Met Office’s Inshore Waters forecast predicted winds up to Force 9 – although in the event the strongest gusts were below 25 knots and in line with the regatta’s meteorologist Fiona Campbell’s predictions.
The dayboats in White Group started heading east against a building ebb tide that theoretically made it easy to control speed, maintaining position by stemming the tide near the line. However, in practice the southerly wind had many holes close inshore off the Royal Yacht Squadron, which ran the risk of being pushed backwards by the tide, while a strong gust from further aft could propel you to the wrong side of the start line before the gun.
That’s exactly what happened in the Squib class, when a gust 20 seconds before the start pushed a third of the fleet over the line prematurely. However, only one boat – Emma Baker and Sam Prime’s Rhapsody in Blue – returned to restart. The two leading boats after the opening weekend’s racing, Duncan Grindley’s Surprise and Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey’s Lady Penelope were best placed after the start, leading the fleet away, but Grindley’s was one of the boats that started early.
Lady Penelope led the fleet at the finish, by a margin of almost three minutes over two more OCS boats, Chris Gear, Andy Foulks and Alex Porteous’ Osprey and Fred Warren-Smith’s Aquabat. The boats that finished fourth and fifth on the water – Andrew Porteous, David Coombes and Jerry Westbrook’s Firecracker, and Iain Jones and Peter Jackson’s Aldebaran – therefore took the guns for second place and third places respectively. It was the third successive win for Hutchings and Ramsey this year, following an overall win in the class last year.
Report by Rupert Holmes/CWL
Photo by Rick Tomlinson/CWL