2006 Cowes Week was being
described as a classic by radio commentators before the end of the week, if by
this they mean lots of wind on very long
Once again the level of competition in the Sigma 38 fleet was a definite step up from last year, we raced against Mefisto and Rapscallion for the first time and they were both sailed very well to finish 2nd and 3rd overall just one point apart. Pavlova III made a welcome return and had certainly upped their game helped by a new suit of sails to finish 4th overall. Red Macaw, 2004 Cowes week winners, made the long trip from the East coast but despite recording 1st and 2nd on Sunday and Monday were dogged by equipment failure, a disqualification and running aground on the Bramble bank whilst in the top 3 on Thursday – I hope they will be back again soon because they surely deserved better than this out of the week.
The Project’s campaign stuttered on the first weekend recording a DSQ for a port/starboard incident and a 3rd but their quality shone through as they won every remaining race from Monday to Friday. We managed to sail alongside them a few times early on in the races and they do seem to have the whole package; good boat speed, excellent boat handling, tactically manage to be consistently in the right position and ability to sniff out the windshifts that much better than anyone else – well done to them.
One of the features of
On Tuesday we had a downwind start in 25 knots of wind and after 1.5 miles 8 boats arrived at the leeward mark at the same time with us on the inside, unfortunately we were half a boat length off having an overlap so instead of rounding in the top three we had to sail around the outside to round in 10th.
On Wednesday we had another downwind start in slightly less wind and after 3 miles most of the fleet was spread out line abreast doing 7 knots. This time we managed to sail high on starboard into more tide and gybed onto port to cross the fleet just a few boat lengths ahead to round the leeward mark in 2nd place behind Mefisto.
On With Alacrity with another crew that had not sailed together before we struggled with boat handling in the big winds early in the week. More worryingly though our upwind boatspeed was desparate until we eventually raked the new mast back an extra 3 cm to make the forestay close to class maximum which made an enormous difference (kicking myself for not doing this at Cork but somehow we convinced ourselves that the new mast was different and needed less rake….eh??). Anyway we sailed much better towards the end of the week with results in the top 4 until Friday when we were DSQ after a protest for water at a mark incident. We were absolutely certain we had an inside overlap but unfortunately we couldn’t convince the protest committee - grrrrr.
It was a great weeks sailing though and many thanks to Nigel and Karen on Persephone for organizing the Sigma City moorings in Cowes, arranging for us to be fed so well at the Sigma 38 barbeque on Tuesday (enormous Cumberland sausages, ribs and barbecued salmon!) as well as the entertainment with the daily prizes at the sail for gold bar.