Following a couple of very busy months last week we had the return of our most prestigious event, Cowes Week.
Altough our entry was down the XODs were still the largest class with 36 boats. Interestingly, the J70s nearly beat our entry but only for their “Short Series” racing Saturday-Tuesday. Once this was completed 2/3rds of the entry went home. The Saturday and Sunday were classic Cowes Week. RYS line starts, tacking up the Green and long legs finishing at the Breakwater line. From Monday, things didn’t quite run as smoothly. The weather didn’t help and the race organisation wasn’t good. We managed to complete five races but could easily have had six and better courses. Discussions have already started with Laurence Mead as to how our racing can be improved next year.
Fraser Graham and Tim Copsey in Astralita won, helmed by the shy but unmissable John Tremlett. Not only did they win three races and the Captain’s Cup but they won the Wessex Cup (Handicap) series depite having the most penal handicap in the fleet. Next year their handicap will be horendous and I’ll tie a bucket to their keel.
Paul Woodman, Ollie James & Phil Lawrence in Lone Star came 2nd with an incredibly consistent series which deserved to win in most years.
Penny Fulford, Nigel Buckley and Damian Ash in Madeline came 3rd. Penny won the Ladies Trophy and achieved the best result by a Lady helm since Joan Braithwaite finished 3rd overall in 1977 in X160 Merlin. Penny and all our Lady helms have a little way to go to match Mrs Branford (1931) in X38 and Mrs Madeleine Russell (1932) in X44 who both won the week overall.
Lymington and Itchenor had a right Ding Dong battle for the Philipson Trophy. Lymington started well and held the lead until the mid-week. Itchenor fought back in the shorter races on Wednesday and Thursday and retained the trophy 109 points to 115. It appears sailing lots of short races on flat water is excellent practise for Cowes Week! At the Thursday evening Cowes Week prize giving (yes, they now award prizes every day) we awarded the new Simon Russell Trophy. This was presented by Fumsey’s daughters to the Astralita team. It was a very emotional evening. Both Laurence Mead and John Tremlett made great speeches and I’ve never heard louder cheers and applause at a sailing event. Although many of the fleet were commuting to the North Island a good crowd assembled later that evening at CCYC for dinner and Dark’n Stormies. With the forecast for Friday looking very bleak we all enjoyed the CCYC hospitality. My crew were last seen dancing in the Duke of York while trying to convince the young J70 crews to join the X fleet.
Behind the scenes there is a huge amount of organisation that goes in to running the week. One hero is Andy Harris who has been producing the XOD results for 14 years. As you know, we have many series and trophies. Andy must wait until all the protests are finalised and then produce our results daily or more accurately, nightly. His emails to Gill with the draft results usually come in the early hours of the morning. Andy doesn’t sail and volunteers to help with the results as his holiday. As a thank you and to encourage him to come back for many years to come, the Class gave Andy a framed Beken print of X’s racing in the 1960s.
Although 2021 won’t be remembered as a great Cowes Week importantly it did go ahead. After the first few days it really did feel like a normal Cowes Week.
Next year will be better and it will be the 100th Anniversary of XODs racing as a class at Cowes Week. I’m already looking forward to it.
See you on the water,
P.S. Entry for Cowes Week 2022 will open in September with Super Early Bird discounts.