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Cowes Classics Week News

 TJP9706There is nowhere better to be during a heatwave than out on the Solent in the sunshine. And that’s just where the crews of some 160 classic yachts were last week (23-27 July) racing in the annual Cowes Classics Week. Now in its 11th year, the 2018 edition has been hailed as the best ever.

Not content with just being one of the highlights of the sailing calendar, Cowes Classics Week has grown to become the go-to experience for sailors passionate about racing classic yachts and designs that have stood the test of time.

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It was a wrap today at Cowes Classics Week, as the five day event for the nineteen classes of classic cruisers, gaffers and one design keelboats, all designed before 1978, came to an end.

Cowes Classics Week 2018 over champion Sunmaid V Lawrence Wride summed up the week for his 1967 One Tonner Sunmaid V. “Perseverance and patience in the tricky conditions seemed to pay off for us, ” he said. Sunmaid V was not only the Cruiser class ‘Red 1’ winner of the week but she also carried off the ultimate overall trophy of the week, the historic 1792 Cup. “We won our class last year and were second the year before so we have been working up to this, ” said Lawrence.

Sunmaid V and the other competitors in Red 1 finished off the series today with a short Solent course in light winds. The class was amongst the six divisions which were able to start a race from the Royal London Yacht Club’s shore start line. Amongst them were S&S Swans, Contessa 26s, Gaffers and a wonderful cross section of other vintage beauties. The classes, Red 1, Red 2, Green, Blue and Folkboats ghosted across the line to the east, flying kites but gradually fell into a flat calm after which a light westerly set in. The breeze enabled the six classes to reach several marks before the race committee shortened all courses in the unsettled conditions.

press TJP9686 2894After yesterday’s fluky conditions a stiff and steady easterly set into the Solent today for the penultimate race day of Cowes Classics Week.

Good tactics and playing the tides were two factors key to success in the Cruiser classes which started their fourth day of racing from the Royal London Yacht Club’s shore line.

This was certainly the strategy for Andrew Pearson’s 10 metre Bojar, built in 1937, which continued her clean sweep of wins in Red Class 2. “We learnt a lot of lessons from watching the fleet in front of us (Red Class 1)”, reported tactician Nick Ryley. “We could see that some were struggling to cross the line so we decided to come in on port, managing to cross the rest of the fleet and then tacked out offshore to get the best of the tide. That was our winning tactic, right at the beginning and we managed to hold onto our lead the whole way round.” He adds “We are just beginning to understand how to keep this 81 year old, 16 tonne yacht moving in light winds!”

Red Class 2 represents a real spectrum of vintage yachts. Bojar beat 30 square metre Aeolus into second place and cruising 8 metre Charm of Rhu into third.

In the Green class Mike and Barbara Harrison’s Contessa 26 Jiminy Cricket scored her third win of the week out of four races, keeping the 44 year old at the top of the leaderboard ahead of William Edwards’ 1962 built Mermaid class Annabelle. Also racing in Green is Cynthia a Seaview Mermaid that was built in 1922 and discovered virtually as a wreck by Mike Randall and a number of partners. She was restored over a number of years and the last fitting was fastened hours before the first race in the 2017 edition of Cowes Classics Week. Cynthia returned to Cowes Classics this week for the second time having spent the past year racing with the rest of the Mermaid fleet at Seaview. “We have been enjoying the conditions,” says Mike “and we are still learning a lot about the boat.”

 TJP9706 2756Wednesday was a day of triumph for some and disappointment for others on the third day of Cowes Classics Week as the Course Race Officers struggled to find enough wind to set courses for the majority of the keelboat classes.

The ghosting south westerly looked promising at times. It then disappeared and reappeared enough times to keep would be sailors waiting on moorings in Cowes Roads in the sunshine and heat which topped 32 degrees according to the team on Race Circuit 2 .

The wait was a long one for the Gaffer class. They watched as the larger Red 1, Red 2 Green and Blue classes got away on the fixed line of the organising club, the Royal London Yacht Club only for the wind to fall away again before their own start. The Gaffers opted to wait until they had at least a chance to make some way up the west going tide before finally getting their start underway.

 TJP8984 2537Tim Jeffreys is out and about on a RIB capturing moments of classic sailing and you can see his pics of the day in our online gallery here.





 TJP9246 2599The second day of the 11th edition of Cowes Classics Week, the Red Funnel Race Day, saw the English heatwave continue unabated but with lighter winds than yesterday’s opening day. After a postponement of two hours, and more for some classes, racing got underway in the Solent when a steady south westerly set in during the afternoon.

As the wind kicked in racing for the cruiser class fleets, racing from the Royal London Yacht Club’s shore line, got underway. Some of the oldest yachts in the 160-strong fleet were lined up one of five race course areas for the 16 classes taking part, including Olympic Soling medallist Ossie Stewart and his all-star crew including father and son Damon and Alan Roberts in his recently acquired Thames Rater Dorothy built in 1984. The team scooped two wins today in the Gaffer class.

Despite the headache of the late arriving wind for Course Race Officer Derek Hodd, the Gaffers, along with Classes Red 1 and 2, Green and Blue, with their mixes of Swans, one off classics, Contessa 26s, 8 metres, and many others, completed a mid-Solent race around the fixed marks today. Derek reported a steady F3-4 from the west enabling the shoreline classes to finish a race each.

press TJP9175Henry Bagnall and his crew were celebrating their hard fought win in the 45 strong XOD class today on the opening day of Cowes Classics Week in spectacular sunshine and perfect south westerly 15 knot breezes.

Explaining how he triumphed over such a large one design fleet Henry who was racing Fury, kindly loaned by Jonathan Clark, said “We were in the mix the whole way round but on the final beat we worked hard to sail the shifts keeping up the middle of the course, which really paid off and we just slid into the lead in the last 30 seconds.”

Christian Brewer, sailing on Stuart Jardine’s Lone Star, only a handful of boats further behind reported “Racing was incredibly tight amongst the XODs. Several 10 and 15 degree windshifts turned parts of the fleet inside out.”

As racing got underway for the majority of the fleets in the mid-Solent today the XODs were the largest class amongst the 160 yachts that have entered Cowes Classics Week this year.

CCW Sailing Instructions Tile 2018An amendment to the sailing instructions has been published referring to 1 'Schedule of racing' affecting racing from the RLYC shoreline for Classic Yacht (including Spirit of Tradition) & Folkboat classes and Old Gaffers (Race circuit 5).

The Sailing Instructions amendment can be downloaded from the Documents area of this website. or direectly using this link.

CCW Sailing Instructions Tile 2018The Sailing Instructions for Cowes Classics Week 2018 have now been published and can be downloaded from the Documents area of this website.

You will find the Sailing Instructions along with the other event documents which are updated on a regular basis.

CCW Notice of Race 2018 Tile

The Notice of Race for Cowes Classics Week 2018 has been published.  

An amendment to the Notice of Race has been published today 11 July 2018 at 16:40 as follows.

Amendment 1 to the Notice of Race

1 International Jury

Insert NoR 2.10:

An international jury will be constituted under Appendix N and the right of appeal is denied under rule 70.5.

Gill Smith
Principal Race Officer Cowes Classics Week

Mike O'Connor
Chair, International Jury, Cowes Classics Week

Download the official Notice of Race Amendment No.1 from the document downloads page ››

RNLI CCW2018 Lifejacket Clinic TileDid any of you see the article on the BBC News this morning regarding lifejackets failing tests before RTI?

Tony Reeve, the RNLI’s Community Safety Volunteer for Cowes has very kindly offered to arrange a clinic to check Cowes Classics Week competitors lifejackets. When checks were made before the recent Round The Island Race, an overwhelming proportion of lifejackets checked were found to be ineffective so this has to be a very welcome initiative from RNLI Cowes.

The free clinic will be held on Saturday 21 - Sunday 22 July 2018 at Helly Hansen on Cowes High Street between 12:00 and 15:00 each day. If you still need convincing, take a look at the BBC News item which can be viewed here.

tendrr logoThe TENDRR website allows skippers and crew to advertise availability and get in touch with each other. 

Cruising, racing and boat moving are all offered, giving members the flexibility they need to get the most out of their boat. We are planning to expand our network down the south coast to Cornwall and across the channel, offering members even more opportunity to sail to new harbours.

Our vision for TENDRR is to help people sail more, sail further. We want to provide yachtsman with the opportunity to sail wherever they are without the hassle or cost of chartering a boat, by putting ordinary sailors in touch with each other.

As we continue to roll out TENDRR, we have made partnering with yacht clubs an integral part of our approach to recruiting users. We appreciate the important role clubs like yours play in the sailing community. We believe that we can benefit both clubs and their members by helping them sail more together, whether they live next door to the harbour or back in London.

Visit TENDRR at

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