This Saturday the largest sailing regatta of its kind, Cowes Week, kicks off for its 184th year. This year Cowes Week welcomes a number of new classes and has made several improvements to ensure that 2010 is the best regatta yet. At the current time, entries are in great shape at 893, with more still coming in*. Cowes Week is firmly on track to be another cracker!
It looks like a good start to the week promising generally fine weather with light to moderate winds, and sea breezes likely as a high pressure system looks set to dominate the weather over the south of England. Towards the end of the week, there could be some particularly challenging racing with the possibility of thunder storms.
Changes for 2010
A number of changes have been made for this year’s event as a result of feedback received from sailors, and in a bid to continue to make further improvements to this world renowned regatta:
- This year, only the western start line will be used at the Royal Yacht Squadron (in contrast to having an eastern line as well in previous years). This will mean the start will be slightly further away from the harbour entrance, which will simplify the start process and ensure fairer starts.
- There will now be the option for either the White Group or Black Group boats to finish on either the Royal Yacht Squadron or Shrape finish line. This will ultimately make course-setting for the White Group easier, especially if the western Solent is used for the dayboats. The last time the White Group finished on the Royal Yacht Squadron line was in 1979!
- Starting signals will be accompanied by flags as well as radio announcements on all starting lines. In previous years, the Black Group only had radio signals which made it less straightforward for competitors to visualise what was happening, especially if there had been any postponements or changes which may have affected the starting schedule. Generally, navigation restrictions have been simplified and in many cases, old restrictions have been removed entirely.
- A Skippers Briefing will take place at Shepards Wharf Marina on Friday 30 July at 18:30 for the White Group and 19:30 for the Black Group. This is designed to provide some helpful hints for those racing, and highlight some of the nuances of racing at Cowes Week to help competitors avoid common mistakes.
- The top three boats in each class will have a choice of a daily prize: a Cowes Week medallion as a memento or a voucher courtesy of our Official Technical Clothing Partner, Gill (£15 for a win, £10 for second, and £5 for third place).
- Competitors who do not make a valid declaration before the time limit and do not respond to our attempts to contact them may be allowed, upon request, to complete a late declaration form with a penalty of 3% on their elapsed time.
- As an experiment this year, and following feedback received from the 2009 event, limited short-term berthing will be provided on the outside of Trinity Landing, subject to space being available. This is limited to a maximum of three hours and costs £15 (no rafting allowed). This means that those not berthed in Cowes can come ashore for a few hours after racing to enjoy the all-important social side of Cowes Week.
2010 sees a number of class changes:
- We are delighted to welcome the Longtze class to Cowes Week as part of its European tour circuit. This sportboat is the result of a design by Steve Thomson, a New Zealand naval architect, and was developed and readied by the America’s Cup team “Le Defi”. Produced in Qingdao, sailing venue for the 2008 Olympics, the boat benefits from technologies developed by “Le Defi” for Longtze, the first Chinese America’s Cup class yacht. Longtze Premier combines the excitement of sailing a dinghy with the security of a small keelboat. While we will only see 7 of these colourful boats in 2010, we anticipate rapid growth in the future.
- The 707, 1720 and Sonata fleets have been merged into a single mixed dayboat class this year. They will be using the same class flag, the same starts, courses and finishes but will have separate one-design fleet results. This both shortens the start sequence and also reduces the potential shorten course resources that may be required.
- Following feedback from previous years, the number of IRC classes has been increased by two to reduce the average fleet size; these have been calculated purely on rating although wherever possible, boat types have been kept together.
- Cruisers will have two options to enjoy Cowes Week racing this year:
- A non-spinnaker class for the whole week using IRC as the rating system
- A class for a single day of racing on the final Saturday using the free and simple Island Sailing Club Rating System
In addition to the traditional Cowes Week fleets, a number of exciting associated events will add some extra sparkle, including:
- The Extreme Sailing Series (Saturday 31 July – Thursday 5 August): Following the initial leg in Sète, France, Cowes Week will host the second part of this exciting competition where the Extreme 40s will go head-to-head in a series of sprint racing. This year’s races will take place from 3pm on the first three days and then 5pm thereafter to ensure sailors and non-sailors alike are able to watch this spectacular event while enjoying the atmosphere at the Extreme Sailing Series race village.
- The 1851 Cup (Tuesday 3 August – Friday 6 August): This trophy event is the brainchild of TEAMORIGIN, the British America’s Cup sailing team who, with the support of their challenging yacht club, the Royal Thames Yacht Club, have invited the America’s Cup holders, BMW ORACLE Racing, to Cowes this summer to compete in a match race tournament. Racing will take place late afternoon off Cowes on Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Friday 6 August. On Thursday 5 August a race clockwise around the Island will take place over the historic original course that saw the birth of the America’s Cup in 1851. The competition will be an incredible event involving some of the world’s greatest sailors.
- Artemis Challenge (Tuesday 3 August): The Artemis Challenge, now in its fourth year, sees a fleet of IMOCA 60s racing around the Isle of Wight raising money for good causes. Every year Artemis Investment Management donates a charity prize fund of £10,000 for the race, which goes to a charity of the winner’s choice. Whilst the IMOCA 60 skippers are used to racing alone or with just one co-skipper, they will be joined for the Artemis Challenge by an experienced racing crew and some special celebrity guests**.
The Artemis Challenge will start at 9.50am off the Royal Yacht Squadron on Tuesday 3 August.