Mediterranean opener for SB20 Grand Slam at Cowes

DSC_0841 copyWith this week’s SB20 Grand Slam in Cowes following class regattas in Hyères on the French Riviera and Torbole in Lake Garda earlier this season, the SB20 class could be forgiven for expecting Mediterranean conditions at every event. Today, Saturday August 8, the Solent provided more of the same, with sparkling sunshine, light south-easterly breezes, and high temperatures on day one of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.

The first of four days of SB20 Grand Slam competition, and eight days of the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week regatta, saw 30 SB20s complete two races in light airs. The entire racing fleet was postponed initially, as an early morning mist cleared in the eastern Solent, and by late morning a timid south-easterly breeze was developing off Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. While many expecting the wind to develop into a brisker south-westerly sea breeze, in fact conditions remained light for most of the day.

The SB20 class enjoyed two races, with both going to Duncan Pryde’s ‘3-Some’. The Hamble-based boat’s two wins put them clearly at the top of the overall leaderboard at the end of Day 1.

In the first race ‘Sail Navy’ got off to a good start, but it was ‘Oman Sail 11’ which took second place – a hugely impressive result given that the team had only set foot in an SB20 for the first time some two days beforehand. Skippered by Fahad al Hasni, the entry is one of two from the Oman Sail programme, and includes crew who have been involved in the Oman Sail offshore MOD70 programme as well as keelboat training.

Mark Rushall, who is sailing and coaching with the team, commented: “It was a fantastic start to the week, we’re chuffed! We had two nice starts. The first race was brilliant – Squadron start, a beat up to Peel Bank, and then a nice little windward leeward course over on the other side, and a crazy reach finish – classic Cowes Week, brilliant! The second race the wind was fading, but they finished the race in good order.”

Skipper Fahad al Hasni, competing in his first ever SB20 races today, said: “I enjoyed it a lot. I think it was a good day for us, second and in the second race we rounded the mark third place but we had a problem with the hoist. We’re very happy, I didn’t expect this result. Here is really difficult to sail because of the current, you have to tack so far before the layline. It’s a really good experience.”

In the second race, a windward-leeward style course in the fading breeze, things were as close as can be, with just one second separating repeat victors ‘3-Some’ and close runners-up ‘eDigital Research’.

Edward Handasyde Dick, skipper of ‘eDigital Research’ commented after racing: “It was literally ‘toot-toot’ as we crossed the line, so I don’t know where we finished, but I think we were probably second.

“We were high and fast for about 15 minutes today, but it was pretty up and down. There was a bit of convergence on the mainland shore, which came into play when the tide switched off. We’re here for the whole week, I think there are 12 SB20s taking part.”

Third went to Charles Whelan’s ‘Here Comes Bod’, while fourth was Class Chairman Adrian Peach’s ‘Uber’. Adrian Peach commented: “The racing was really close today, particularly at the front of the fleet. The whole standard is really raised up, it’s really exciting. For me, it’s just a whole different type sailing here, it’s like orienteering with the tide and so on.”

This evening the fleet enjoyed a class social at the Folly Inn in East Cowes, before two races scheduled for Sunday, August 9. Full results are available at www.aamcowesweek.co.uk

SB20 Cowes Grand Slam Results (provisional):

Race 1: 1st GBR3029 ‘3-SOME’ 01:21:11, 2nd 3501 ‘OMAN SAIL 11’ 01:22:04, 3rd GBR3057 ‘BALOO’ 01:22:12

Race 2: 1st GBR3029 ‘3-SOME’ 01:28:27, 2nd GBR3027 ‘EDIGITALRESEARCH’ 01:28:28, 3rd GBR3021 ‘HERE COMES BOD’ 01:28:51.