Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, UK; August 10-17, 2019.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, UK; August 10-17, 2019.

Quail, Redwing, White Group Overall - Queen Victoria Jubilee Cup and Overall Winner of Cowes Week 2019.

HELD IN AUGUST every year since 1826, except during the two world wars, Cowes Week has been one of the UK’s longest running and most successful sporting events. 

These days, between 800 and 1,000 boats in up to 40 different classes race every day for eight days. This mixture of classic and ultra-modern designs is what makes this regatta unique. Several classes that have raced more than 50 years ago are still racing today and new classes are also introduced as they increase in popularity.

The different classes of boats are split into either what’s known as the White Group (day boats) and the Black Group (larger boats with cabins).

This year, on day seven, an increasing south-southwesterly breeze determined the overall class winners at Cowes Week, as well as those for Black and White groups and the whole regatta.

James Wilson and Ed Peel’s Redwing Quail posted a perfect score line to win the class, White Group and Cowes Week overall. “It is absolutely fantastic,” Peel said after stepping ashore. “We’ve never won it before so we are all delighted.

“Today the race committee made the great decision to keep the races short and get everyone back on shore before the foul weather turned up.” 

It’s the 14th year the family-owned boat has won its class at Cowes since it was built in 1989.

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Blanco, Contessa 32, a veteran of Cowes Week.

Giovanni Belgrano’s 80-year-old 38-foot Laurent Giles-designed classic Whooper showed mastery in IRC Class 6 all week, finishing the regatta with an unbroken run of first places. It was a performance that also earned victory overall in Black Group. Belgrano was delighted with his win, but said it was exceptionally tough in this highly competitive fleet. “We had to sail well today because GR8 Banter, our closest rival, was getting stronger and stronger – we were pushed hard,” he reflected. Ian Handley’s Mustang 30 GR8 Banter took a comfortable second place overall, five points ahead of Toby Gorman’s Sigma 33 Stan the Boat.

Among some of the many classes taking part, Mark Rijkse’s GP42 42 Degrees South notched up her fourth first place on the Friday, winning IRC Class 0 with a score of only seven points. Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator took second overall, counting 12 points and Redshift third, just 1.2 points behind. It was a hotly-contested week, with Niall Dowling’s Fast 40+ Arabella missing out on a podium place by only 0.8 points.

The smallest boat in IRC Class 1, Russell Peters’ new IC37 Kanreki, stormed to victory, counting four first places and one third. Jan de Kraker’s Swan 45 K-Force took second overall, on 12 points, while Bertie Bicket’s Swan 42CS Fargo finished third overall, despite an OCS score on day seven.

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Plenty of thrills and colour in the Solent off the Isle of Wight.

In IRC Class 2 Adam Gosling’s JPK11.80 Yes! made what appeared to be an uncharacteristically late start at the inshore end of the line, where there was less wind but a favourable inshore tidal eddy, as well as a shorter effective distance to the first mark. Within six minutes it appeared all three boats in the leading group – Christopher Daniel’s J/122E Juno, Ian Schenkel and David Cummins’ Ker 39 Rumbleflurg, and Yes! – had gained a big advantage inshore. Yes! won though, to finish the series counting only five points from five races. Tony Mack’s J/111 McFly took second overall on 14 points, and another J/111, Hans Zwijnenburg and Martijn Worseling’s Sweeny third with 22 points.

In IRC Class 3 two First 40s – Richard Patrick’s Dusty P and Joe and Rob Bottomley’s Sailplane Bucketlust – emerged as the only front-row starters, on the inshore edge of the pack. Sailplane Bucketlust was able to stay up in the shallow water for longer and was first to hook into the more stable breeze as they passed the headland at Egypt Point, gaining a further useful advantage.

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Another First 40, Alex and Andy Moore’s Tilt Racing, took line honours, and won the day seven race on corrected time. It was a performance that lifted her two places up the overall leaderboard, tied with Andrew McIrvine’s La Réponse and taking third place overall on countback. Class victory, however, went to John Barratt and Paul Woodward’s Corby 36 Stiletto (formerly Mustang Sally and Yes!) which has now won her class five times in the past 25 years. Sailplane Bucketlust took the runner-up spot one point ahead of Tilt Racing.