Charles Stanley Direct Cowes Classics Week final day: Vintage boats and young winners
Winner of the 10th Charles Stanley Direct Cowes Classics Week put his success down to a bit of practice and a tightly competitive fleet which keeps him on his toes year round. Mike Wigmore and his crew who brought his Swallow Gwaihir across the Solent from Itchenor, explained “It’s great coming to the Classics. We love the combination of windward leeward sailing and round the cans courses. I can truly say we’ve never had a better regatta.”
Mike made his comments despite Charles Stanley Direct Cowes Classics Week (CSDCCW) wrapping up today (Friday) with three days of racing out of a potential five when a second day of racing had to be cancelled due to wind in the Solent pushing toward 30 knots.
Luckily enough races had been completed to fulfil the series across all the classes. Winner of the largest class, the X One Designs, was 19-year old Max Crowe. “I always like to keep an eye on where everyone is on the race course,” he said, explaining his winning tactics. Max has been sailing the boat for four years, honing his skills in Cadets and Oppies. “We had a very good week, very well organised.”
Another well-earned victory went to Andrew Milliband in Flying Fifteen Fifty Fifty. This year is the 70th anniversary of the fleet and the occasion attracted sixteen of the boats including one crew from South Africa sailing Durban Flyer. “We sail Flying Fifteens regularly in Durban and wanted to come to England to celebrate the anniversary,” said owner Campbell Alexander, whose crew Jeremy Kriek also made the trip. The pair were able to borrow the boat from a friend.
Classic yacht racing continues to grow in popularity with stories of the rescue and restoration of forgotten relics continuing to emerge. The CSDCCW was the ultimate goal for Cynthia one lovingly restored and gleaming Seaview Mermaid, a Westmacott design built in 1922. Cynthia just managed to make the start line this week after an eight year project by her owners. Their efforts were recognised when they collected the regatta’s Classic Boat Magazine Concours d’Elegance.
Named nearly 100 years ago after her first owner Cynthia Methuen of the publishing company family, Cynthia was brought to the event by owners Mike Randall, John Turner and Jamie Nimmo. Not quite measuring as a Seaview Mermaid Cynthia raced in the ‘Classic Dayboats’ class alongside Swallows, a Dragon and a Tempest. The opening race was her very first outing and although Cynthia was not up with the prizes she completed all five races of the series. “Everything went very well,” said co-owner Mike Randall. “We had thought through the project in a lot of detail.” Co-owner Bob Somers said “We were still screwing fittings onto the deck three days before the event.”
Another clutch of historic yachts emerging in mint condition are the Vintage Dragons. For his efforts in seeking out the old boats worthy of renovation, and for his long history with the Dragon class, Tim Street was presented with a special Lifetime Achievement Award. Tim has been instrumental in promoting and encouraging sailing in several classic classes. “We are still finding Dragons to restore, including one recently found in a barn in the New Forest,” said Tim. Tim first helmed a Salcombe Pram dinghy in 1946 and went on the win countless Dragon titles. His two sons and grandson continue the Dragon sailing tradition – son Rupert raced Tschuss to second place at the CSDCCW. He was pipped from first place by Matthew Lingley’s Kestrel.
PRO Gill Smith explained her reluctant decision to cancel racing for a second day. “We were seeing gusts at 20 knots and above even in Osborne Bay which is a sheltered area. With the arrival of the approaching low pressure system expected sometime in the 1200 – 1400 window expected to include heavy rain and attendant gusts, it would be taking a gamble with the yachts and especially the classic dayboats which can be vulnerable in these conditions.”
Nevertheless there were plenty of winners across the fleets, picking up a large collection of historic silverware. Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia was the winning yacht amongst the four majestic 8-metres that competed while John Corby took first place in the Daring Class, also claiming the Metre Regatta Trophy. Racing on the same circuit were the Solent Sunbeams, won by Martin Jones in Betty. Of the eight Bembridge One Designs, BOD8, sailed by James Rowe emerged victorious.
The mixed fleets of Classic Cruisers saw wins for S&S 43 Firebrand, built in 1964 in ‘Red 1’ class and Lawrence Wride’s 1967-built Sunmaid V in ‘Red 2’. Mike Harrison’s 1965 Contessa 26 Jiminy Cricket won Blue while Richard Hargreaves’ 47 year old Twister Sea Urchin took victory in Green. Claire Locke, helming her Folkboat The Otter, was the winner of her class.
A special seamanship award was presented to Doctor Steph Brown, who was crewing on Flying Fifteen Fram Freyr, holding on to second position in the race, when she witnessed a nearby collision between a Dragon and Flying Fifteen. Giving up her place in the race she went to the aid of a concussed crew who was subsequently taken to hospital and given 24 stitches in his head.
Charles Stanley Direct Cowes Classics Week is grateful to supporting sponsors Haines Boatyard, Winkworth, Harken, Red Funnel, Cowes Harbour Commission, Kendalls Fine Art and Classic Boat magazine, and for the first time Henri Lloyd.
Next year’s Cowes Classics Week will be held from 23-27 July 2018.
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Photo credits; Rick Tomlinson.
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