, 2022-07-30 14:47:07,
The Solent delivered a sparkling and action-packed day for the start of Cowes Week, with plenty of sun and west-south-westerly breeze that built from 10 to 15 knots to give maximum gusts in the low 20s by early afternoon. It was a day of 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.
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. Even then, several were premature at the gun, but only a couple returned, leaving a number of boats to be scored OCS.
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.”
There was plenty of place changing as the tightly-packed fleet of J/70s short-tacked to the west. A couple of minutes after the start Lutz Strangemann’s Geisha, Jack Davies Jeti and Annabelle Body’s Boysterous were looking nicely placed on the water. However, a minute later Tim Ryan’s Vamos was in pole position, tacking close to the shore after countless short tacks. The first three boats to finish were scored OCS, leaving Australian Sam Haynes’ Celestial to take first place, ahead of Dom Lewis’ RTYC…
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