The last day of Cowes Week featured short, action-packed races in a solid north-westerly gradient wind, culminating in a spectacularly busy finish line at the Royal Yacht Squadron. A risk of the wind dying in advance of an afternoon sea breeze prompted a change to the race schedule, with three committee boats used, in addition to the Royal Yacht Squadron line, to compress the start sequence for all 32 classes to just 40 minutes.
Rupert Mander’s Flying 15 Men Behaving Badly won his race today by almost two and a half minutes and in doing so achieved the distinction of becoming the sole boat at the Regatta to post an unbroken run of race wins. In addition to his class win, he was also crowned overall winner of the White Group dayboat classes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever achieved seven first places in a row, and it was great to have seven days of racing with good winds and sun,” says Mander, who was racing with old crew mate Gareth Edwards from almost three decades ago.
Peter and Alison Morton’s Swan 36 Scherzo of Cowes won all but one race and discarding a second place in Monday’s race, to win IRC Class 6 with a day to spare. It was a stunning performance that also saw the immaculately restored boat win Black Group overall, and claim the title of Overall Cowes Week winner.
Scherzo sailed with a team of eight, including yacht designer Hugh Wellbourne on the mainsheet and Doug Vincett as boat captain and navigator, plus his daughters and other guests on different days. “It’s been a memorable week, with generally excellent courses and pretty good sailing,” Morton said. “We were pressed hard in every race by Ian Handley on the Mustang 30 Banter, with the two of us fighting it out every day. We were slightly faster upwind, but they had an edge downwind, especially in strong winds.”
Other stand out performances include Adam Gosling’s JPK1080 Yes! in IRC Class 2, which went into the final race heading the overall Black Group leaderboard, counting only class wins. However, Yes! finished third today, behind David Franks’ J/112E Leon and Paul McNamara’s First 40.7 Incognito. Gosling retained the class win, by a margin of three points over Leon, but today’s result pushed him down to second in the overall Black Group rankings.
Kevin Downer and Tim Eccles’ 23ft Jeanneau Fun Ziggy started the week with five straight wins in IRC Class 7. As a result, they headed the Black Group leaderboard for several days, an impressive result for a boat bought for only £500 and refitted using second-hand spars, sails and deck fittings. However, a second place on Thursday and fifth on Friday meant that, although they convincingly won the class with a day to spare, the final two results saw them drop to third overall in Black Group.
Giovanni Belgrano’s 38ft Laurent Giles classic Whooper won IRC Class 5 with a day to spare, having scored four wins and two second places. Francois Goubau’s Belgian Beneteau First 47.7 Moana achieved the same feat in IRC Class 1, as did Robert Baker’s J/97 Jaywalker in IRC Class 4.
Charle’s Esse’s X4.3 Baby X won all but two races in the Performance Cruiser A class, as did Neil Miller’s Dufour 40 Elidie in Performance Cruiser B, both winning their respective classes with a day to spare. Nick Hampton’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey Scandal won the Cruising Association sponsored Club Cruiser classes overall with a similarly impressive performance.
Roger Wickens’ Danny took victory in the Sunbeam class with a day to spare and started the final day second overall on the White Group leaderboard. However, an altercation with Grantham Rocks a little to the west of the RYS start line forced him to retire and as a result he dropped five places on the overall White Group rankings.
At the same time, a number of classes went to the wire. In IRC Class 0 three boats went into the final day separated by only four points. A win today for Ian Atkins’ GP42 Dark n Stormy sealed his overall class title, having scored only podium results, including three race wins.
IRC Class 3 saw a week-long battle between Mike Bridges’ JPK1010 Elaine Again and John Howell and Paul Newell’s A31 Arcus, with the two boats tied on points going into the final race. In the tightest of finishes Bridges took line honours today, just two seconds ahead of the higher rated Arcus, thus sealing his overall class win.
In the Sonar class, despite tight rankings at the top of the fleet, most boats were very timid in their approach to the line today, allowing David Peerless’ Fiscal, Robert Peace’s Hibiscus and Alistair Barter’s Bertie to gain an early advantage. Bertie was first boat home in the 18-strong fleet, two minutes ahead of Simon Clarke’s Jenny, his third victory of the week. However Clarke sailed a slightly more consistent series to win the class by a single point ahead of Bertie, while the Andrew Cassell Foundation’s ACF Dolphin took third place, just one point adrift. Clarke’s performance also saw him take second overall in White Group.
Hong Kong visitor Jamie McWilliam’s Macho Grande won the first three races in the Etchells class, but slipped back later in the week before having to retire today. Forced to count a fifth place picked up on Wednesday, he won the class on countback, tied on points with Nick Stagg’s China Wight.
The overall lead in the Dragon class changed several times during the week, with just one point between the top three boats going into the final race. A win today for Graham and Julia Bailey in the immaculately restored Bluebottle, just 11 seconds ahead of Eric Williams’ Ecstatic, saw the Bailey’s leapfrog to class victory with 13 points. Third place for Gavia Wilkinson-Cox’s Jerboa today left her tied on points with Ecstatic, with the tie break for second overall resolved in Jerboa’s favour.
At the start of the final XOD race the top four boats were separated by only two points. However, two of these had a disappointing day today. Max and Mike Crowe’s Clair de Lune was one of five boats scored OCS for starting prematurely, while Jonathan Clark’s Tortoise finished 20th, forcing him to count an eighth place picked up in race five.
However, a second place today, just four seconds behind Roger Yeoman and Mike Moss’s Xcitation, was enough to lift Richard Faulkner’s Swallow to the top of the leaderboard. Fourth place today for John Tremlett’s Astralita secured second overall, four points ahead of Tortoise and Clair de Lune.
Next year’s Cowes Week takes place from July 29 to August 4, 2023.
Image: Scherzo of Cowes on her way to overall victory at Cowes Week 2022. Photo: Paul Weyth/CWL