Champagne sailing is a phrase often thrown around during Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week. For Day 2 of the SB20 class’s Grand Slam, on Sunday August 9, conditions were certainly sparkling – a stable 12-18 knot south-westerly, and constant sunshine.
But the 30 competing SB20 teams had to work hard for their glass of something cold and fizzy, with two races – a classic Cowes round-the-buoys course followed by a committee boat start and windward-leeward – making for a fun, but testing days on the water. Put it this way – this evening’s post-racing drinks at Venture Quays in East Cowes involved a lot of sitting down from some very tired crews.
The first race opened with a Squadron line start, which caught out 10 teams who were called OCS and failed to return. The best start went to ‘Baloo’ (3057), with the team from the north of England holding their lead for the duration of the race.
John Outhwaite, who sails on ‘Baloo’ and is also the SB20 Class Measurer, explained: “We came in on port at the start, and we tacked underneath the fleet. And we only just cleared the pin end boat. We won on the start and first beat. We actually got to the first mark in the lead, Ado Peach (Uber) just behind us, and just extended a little bit. There was some tactics down Calshot shore, as to whether to keep in or not, and it was really good.
“It was a cracking day’s sailing. We’ve been orienteering around the cans, we’ve seen every bit of the Solent, but you don’t get racing any closer than that, in the second race there must’ve been eight or nine boats within a few seconds. It was absolutely brilliant, one-design racing at its best. Those boats are so equal.
“It was classic asymmetric planning boat conditions, it was super. It’s a very good standard of fleet here, everyone’s in with a chance. Its’ a good one-design class, and if you get it right – especially when you’ve got choices to make with tides and winds – everybody’s got a chance.”
Second place in Race 3 of the Grand Slam went to Adrian Peach’s ‘Uber’ (3720), while third was ‘eDigitalResearch’ (3027).
The second race proved just how close the SB20 fleet can be, with seven boats finishing within a minute. Charles Sheppard’s ‘Sharc’ (3082) is expected to take the win (‘Bulldog’ is listed as the provisional winner but retired early), from ‘Uber’, putting in a consistent second runner-up place. Doug Innes’ ‘Phantom Menace’ finished in third.
Among the flurry of boats finishing within seconds of each other in the top 10 was the visiting ‘Buitenhuis Advies’ (NED3702), skippered by Martijn Buitenhuis, the Dutch SB20 Class President. He commented:
“The racing today was very good, very intense. After two and a half hours racing the top eight boats finished in 20 seconds or so, so it was very interesting. It was too difficult to count it.
“Conditions were excellent, in the middle there was a lot of breeze, the second downwind leg was very big. This is my fourth Cowes Week. I like it here! There’s lots to think about here, but that’s what I enjoy about it.
“Next year there will be a Grand Slam at the Nord See Regatta – the Dutch Cowes’ Week, where we will have our own start line, on Whitsun in May. So I want everyone to come!”
Today the pink Sportsboat World spinnaker for the overall leader was flown by ‘3-Some’ (3029), while the Harken red kite for the leading Youth team was carried by ‘Trouble and Strife’ (3276) and black Hyde Sails spinnaker for the top Masters boat by the Mcleans on ‘Sponge Bob’ – although the average age on their boat was reduced for Sunday with some younger members of the family taking part on Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week’s Family Day.
This evening the class will enjoy cocktails on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron’s lawn before two further races tomorrow. The SB20 Cowes Grand Slam concludes on Tuesday, August 11.
Daily Results (provisional):
Race 3: 1st ‘Baloo’ (3057) Dave Atkinson, 2nd ‘Uber’ (3720) Adrian Peach, 3rd ‘Edigitalresearch’ (3027) Edward Handasyde Dick, Alec & Clairey Russell & Emily West.
Race 4: 1st ‘Bulldog’ (3162) James Russell, 2nd ‘Sharc’ (3082) Charles Sheppard, 3rd ‘Uber’ (3720) Adrian Peach.
Full results at www.aamcowesweek.co.uk