, 2022-07-31 02:32:55,
An action-packed day for the start of Cowes Week with challenging starts, extremely tight finishes and close boat-on-boat action.
Starts for the early classes were characterised by the need to short tack in a narrow west-going tidal eddy close to the shore off the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Green. This was an energetic leg for sail trimmers, with many calls for room to tack, some very big ducks by port tack yachts, plus a few groundings and a number of protests.
Cowes Week is different to many regattas in that it uses a VAR system on the start line with six cameras that allow an accurate analysis of any boats that start prematurely. This means competitors need to be more cautious that usual when starting, as the system reduces the number of occasions that a general recall is needed.
“When we’re starting 28 classes on one line we need to do everything possible to avoid general recalls and we have a lot of technology at our disposal for that reason,” explains regatta director Laurence Mead. “It’s always our objective to offer the best racing possible and we would never want technology to get in the way of that.”
It’s always difficult to read the start line in tricky conditions when you’re the first fleet away, but even allowing for this the 32 strong J/70 class was surprisingly optimistic.
A big group of boats crossed the line well before the gun, with the result that with 20 seconds to go there were almost as many boats trying to get back to the correct side of the line as there were pointing in the general direction of the first mark.
In contrast, the larger yachts in IRC Class Zero were largely very conservative at their start, allowing the smallest boat in the fleet, Bertie Bicket’s IC37 Fargo, to clear ahead of the pack on port tack.
The Cape 31 is another recent design that’s going from strength to strength. The fleet at Cowes Week this year is the largest the class has seen anywhere in the world since the first boat was launched five years ago.
The growing popularity of the Performance Cruiser and Cruiser classes at Cowes Week mean there are fewer IRC entries this year, but the competition at the top of the fleet in these classes is just as high as ever.
The Etchells class was another of the optimistic starters. With 20 seconds to go half the fleet was already over the line, however, Malcolm Offord’s The Plant Hunter…
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