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.
There was a predicted win overall for Bojar, Andrew Pearson’s 81 year old 10 metre yacht, which sailed to a very high standard to take a first for the first four days and a second today, while the Blue Fleet belonged to the vintage 1971 She 31 Sheba sailed by James Mehew. Green went to Mike and Barbara Harrison’s Contessa 26 Jiminy Cricket which won all but one of her five races and the winning Folkboat was Claire Locke’s The Otter.
Arguably the most nostalgic of the classes was the Gaffers, which featured the oldest boat in the Cowes Classics fleet, Spinaway X, a Plymouth Hooker built in 1889. One of the prettiest was the tiny Winifred sailed single handled by Brian Corbett, which although a relatively modern build, is a replica of a 1892 Herreshoff Half-Rater. Ultimately Rosenn, Bob Fisher’s 1896 Solent One Design won the class today when she managed to find some speed across the start line to stretch quickly away from the rest of the fleet, securing her the overall class win.
Elegant and restored yachts were not just restricted to the shoreline classes. The prestigious Concourse d’Elegance was awarded to Flying Fifteen Femme Fatale, designed by the legendary Uffa Fox and built in 1947. She has been maintained in virtually original condition by her young current owner Elliott Hall.
The Flying Fifteens were one of thirteen classes which raced on four committee boat circuits stationed in the central Solent. Winning skipper Bobby Salmond sailed along with16 year old Will Morris who he described as the boat’s secret weapon. “We have had a fantastic week, ” said Bobby. “This event is perfect for the Flying Fifteen fleet and we are really hopeful of bringing even more along next year. ”
The Loch Long fleet also found the event to their liking. Jonathan ‘Binnie’ Evans, who scored five firsts out of eight races on the Winkworth Circuit to win the event, explained why each alternate year, the fleet makes its way from its home base at Aldeburgh, Suffolk to the Solent to take part in Cowes Classics Week. “We like a big adventure once a year and in the last few years we have been to Lake Como and Britanny, ” said John. But we always come back to Cowes. We are really grateful to the race officers who have had such a tough time with the conditions but always managed to give us good racing. There have been lots of position changes in our courses, so there was always everything to play for. ” Under-canvassed and with heavy keels the Loch Longs are surprisingly fast and ideally suited to sheltered waters like the Solent and the Clyde, where there is also a fleet.
The gleaming Bembridge One Designs joined the Loch Long circuit for their own starts with Russ Fowler in BOD1 claiming overall victory.
Perhaps the greatest win of the week was that of John Tremlett in the XOD class. Although the XODs didn’t race on the final day, due to the time expiring before the committee boat could find enough wind, they managed to fit in six races and complete the series. A consistent performance in the top four enabled John and his crew to beat 45 other XODs into first place overall, but only just. With the same number of points Max Crowe only just lost out because of his discard. 20 year old Max, who was aiming to defend his 2017 Cowes Classics Week XOD Champion title, said “It was so close, and I was really hoping to get out there again today to have a final chance of beating John! ”
The Solent Sunbeam fleet, a highly competitive class based at Itchenor Sailing Club made their way to Cowes for the event. Winners Richard and Sarah Pearson sailed Penny, owned by Julian Money. “We’ve been coming here for 11 years, since the event started, ” says Sarah, but this is the first time we have sailed Penny, and she has brought us success! ”
Sharing the Red Funnel Circuit with the Solent Sunbeams were the Darings, no strangers to this stretch of water. Giles Peckham’s performance gave him the overall win to carry off the Metre Regatta Trophy.
Another Itchenor class, the National Swallow, saw ten of their number coming to race on the Robert Oatley Wines circuit. Charles Hyatt who crewed to victory with his co-owners Mark Struckett and Mike Wigmore said “We are a very tight fleet and there have been plenty of position changes during windward leewards but we particularly noticed how the boats with a lot of mid-Solent experience did well on the fixed Solent mark course that we were given in the middle of the week. ”
On the same circuit, young sailor William Bedford won four of six races in the Etchells fleet to take first in Shamal. Also present were four beautiful Vintage Dragons, each with a history to tell, and a win going to Bill Daniels’ 58 year old Mistress whose competition included the 1938 built Aurora.
The organising club, the Royal London Yacht Club, was supported by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club and Island Sailing Club. The famous RLYC Winkworth tea parties once again took place every afternoon and there was, as always, a full calendar of evening social events.
Cowes Classics Week 2018 was supported by sponsors Charles Stanley Direct, Winkworth, Red Funnel, Cowes Harbour Commission, Kendalls Fine Art, Clare Lallows boatyard, Classic Boat magazine, Zhik clothing and Robert Oatley Fine Wines.
The next Cowes Classics Week will be held 27 July to 2 August 2019.
Cowes Classics Week 2018 over champion Sunmaid V.
Contessa 26s and Folkboats coax the wind on the first leg of today's race.
The winning crew of She 31 Sheba with Gill Smith, Cowes Classics Week Principal Race Officer.
Winning Flying Fifteen Vamoose.
John Tremlett's X80 Lass claims a big victory in the XOD fleet.
William Bedford collects the Martin and Stella Sharp Trophy for the Etchells Class.
- ends –
David Gower, Regatta Chairman
Gill Smith, PRO
Nicky Symonds, Regatta Secretary
Photo credit: Tim Jeffreys
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