Cowes Classics Week, now in its 9th year represents the camaraderie and corinthian values that underpin the great sport of sailing. This event is organised by the Royal London YC, assisted by the other Cowes Clubs and the Week is intended for all metre boats; 12mR, 8mR, 6mR, 5.5mR and Daring (glass 5.5s), Classic dayboats and one designs including, but not restricted to, Dragon (classic and modern), Solent Sunbeam, Bembridge/Classic Redwing, Seaview Mermaid, Swallow, Squib, Victory, XOD, Bembridge, Loch Long, Royal Burnham and Yarmouth One Designs, Sea Bird, Star, Tempest and Flying Fifteen. Classic yachts including, but not restricted to, Folkboat, SCOD, Nicholson 32 & 36, Rustler 31, Twister, Stella and Spirit of Tradition yachts and one-offs that meet the eligibility criteria.
Entries for next month’s Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week look set to be up yet again this year, standing at over 180 as at 24 June.
There are some exciting newcomers to the event this year with Cowes Classics Week hosting the International Tempest Class World Championship within the regatta with around 25 boats from the UK and Europe competing at Cowes for the first time in class history. In addition, a four-strong fleet of vintage Dragons will be entering for the first time and the 8 metres will be joining in after a one year break.
The event’s rule for GRP boats means that this year the Royal London YC has been able to extend an invitation to all Classic S&S Swans regardless of their design date as this class is considered to have specific provenance and five will be competing in the Over 30 ft LOA class.
Once again the regular Classics including six 6 metres, 14 Darings (glass 5.5s), 13 Solent Sunbeams and five Swallows. Flying Fifteens and Bembridge One Designs will be attending the five day event which starts at Cowes on 11 July. In addition the largest fleet of all, the XODs, already has more than 50 boats entered. The Squibs from the Royal Victoria also race on the Tueday.
Cowes Classics Week, which first took place in 2008 as a modest event for metre and classic dayboats, has since welcomed classic yachts such as the Nicholsons, SCODs, Twisters, Contessa 26s and Folkboats along with many beautiful one offs.
The Loch Long class will be making their way from Aldeburgh to join the event, while the Old Gaffers are still going strong with two classes, both racing from the RLYC shoreline this year with the classic yachts, and the spirit of tradition French designed Tofinous who will be coming for the second year.
Adding to the excitement of a traditional sailing scene will be the presence of two iconic yachts, Mariquita, the beautiful 38m (125ft) Fife design built in 1911, and Opposition, built in 1971 for the then British Prime Minister Edward Heath as his second Morning Cloud and which went on tobe part of the winning British Team in the Admiral’s Cup. Neither yacht will be racing but Mariquita will be on the water each day with a full crew to show their support to the fleet, and both boats will be open to view after racing as part of Cowes Classics Week.
This year’s entries, representing 30 yacht clubs both in the UK and overseas, will be competing in 18 different classes over a number of race courses. Interest from newcomers continues to grow – at least 35 entrants did not compete last year.
Paul Woodman in his XOD Ibex will be back to defend his 2015 title as overall winner of the event’s largest class trying to hold off his 50-odd rivals for the Haines Boatyard Trophy.This class sail on a dedicated championship course which has been specially arranged for them. Also entered are Adrian and Stuart Jardine many times winners of the XOD Captains Cup.
Sir Richard Ottaway won the Daring class in Decoy last year by one point from Charles Stanley executive Magnus Wheatley in Destroyer who will be trying very hard to win the class this year. Sir Richard will not be racing but will be at the event as he is taking over as Regatta Chairman from Peter Taylor for 2017. Another competitor to watch is Fenton Burgin’s 6 metre Sioma which won every race in the 2015 Cowes Classics Week. In the Sunbeam class Roger Wickens will be sailing Danny, who together with Alan Stannah, has revitalised this class with the introduction of the beautifully finished glass boats.
The larger boats will this year be joined by Old Gaffer Peggy Bawn, launched in 1894, and recently rebuilt and restored by her current owner Hal Sisk who is sailing her down from Dublin.
“Once again we are expecting a very competitive turn out, with quite a few new faces, keen to win the 33 trophies on offer,” comments Peter Taylor, Regatta Chairman and Principal Race Officer. “The trophies are mainly from the magnificent Royal London collection some dating back to the 19th century. Even older is the Charles Stanley 1792 Cup which will be awarded to the Week’s Overall winner, named after the year the title sponsors’ company was formed’.
‘The Tempests also have 18 of their own trophies and the Royal London will be awarding to the 2016 World Champion the Queen Victoria Jubilee Cup which was given to the club by the then Queen in 1886, so it will be quite an event on the water and quite a prize giving’.
He adds “Some of these yachts are over 100 years old but all are at the top of their game, and most are lovingly restored to immaculate condition by their owners”.
Racing will be organised by the Royal London Yacht Club with support from Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Cowes, Island Sailing Club and Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club.
This year’s event charity is the Miss Isle School of Sip & Puff Sailing – a unique sailing and training experience for physically disabled individuals who want to go sailing but aren’t able to sail a conventional boat. Natasha Lambert BEM, who has cerebral palsy, has already sailed around the Isle of Wight, up to the Thames, crossed the Channel and sailed over five hundred miles to Wales using the sip & puff method. Natasha is also a member of Girlguiding where she has achieved her Baden Powell Award.