With 7 weeks to go before the opening race of Lendy Cowes Week 2017, overall entries across the board are up 10% on this time last year writes Sue Pelling. Equally encouraging is the fact that international entries are on the rise too with a total of 41 teams already signed up.
Although it is a Fastnet Race year, which generally tends to attract a larger than usual foreign contingent, the 33-strong international entry from last year has already been topped, with potentially more to come which could make it one of the biggest international entries ever seen at Cowes Week.
Jonas Grander and team from Runmarö Yacht Club, which is located on a small island in the Archipelago just outside Stockholm, Sweden is competing at Lendy Cowes Week for the first time aboard Matador (Elliott 44CR). Although Sweden is all but a short sprint across the North Sea, the boat was actually based in Sydney, which meant shipping was the only option.
Having competed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, Grander shipped the boat from Sydney directly to England and she is currently moored in Lymington at Berthon’s ship yard.
Commenting on what attracted him to compete at Lendy Cowes Week, Grander said:
“Cowes Week comes with a very strong reputation for giving sailors lots of bang for the bucks! Not in the monetary sense but you get a lot of time on the water under intense conditions with fellow sailors. Also, the race organisers are known for doing a great job to give the sailors a great time both on and off the water, which for us is equally important.
“We are planning to take part in three to four days racing then take two days or so to rest and to prepare the team and the boat for our next adventure – Rolex Fastnet Race.”
Another international team keen to test their skills at this world class regatta is BlueOne, a Beneteau First 36.7, owned by CNCE asbl – a Brussels-based sailing club – and sailed by Massimo Farrugia (skipper) and an amateur crew of club members. Despite their amateur status however, it appears that some crew members, who range in age from 16 to early 50s, have experience in the Rolex Fastnet, the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Clipper Round the World Race.
As well as actually competing in Lendy Cowes Week, this team has used the occasion to give other members of their club and opportunity to experience offshore sailing by organising cruises across the Channel. Farrugia commented:
“We have one group sailing the boat from The Netherlands to the Solent, and once the racing is over, another crew will bring her back to Wemeldinge, our home port in the Netherlands.”
Leading the charge at the professional/performance end of the international entry list is CQS, the 100ft multi-winged supermaxi from Australia skippered by Ludde Ingvall a former round the world yachtsman, world champion and record holder.
Ingvall, who has raced more than 12 times at Cowes Week said the introduction of the Sevenstar Triple Crown event for big boats is the reason he and his team decided to race this year.
“We only wanted to race against boats of our size. We couldn’t have done the event any other way, we’re too big and too deep; it was critical to our decision to be at Cowes Week”.