The biggest class in Skandia Life Cowes Week is the X One Designs. The boat, designed in 1908, is 21ft 8in long and the class is one of the most difficult to win. There were 73 XODS this year, but Stuart Jardine made it look easy yesterday. He won his fifth race in six starts and cannot be beaten for the highly coveted Captain's Cup. The 68-year-old double Olympian from Lymington won the overall prize for the week for the second year in succession and the fourth time in his career.
"Firework Friday" was not as frantic as forecast and the crews for what has been a record-breaking regatta – there were over 1,000 entries – were given a gentle test in the western Solent. After six difficult days, many were grateful. Robbie Cameron-Davies in I-Site won the Rocking Chair Trophy, and Graham Deegan wrapped up Class 3 in Menenes.
The Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson is the latest to step up to the ocean racing plate as she joins the 79ft Nicorette for the Rolex Fastnet Race tomorrow. As she makes her debut, so another woman will be using the Fastnet stage to make her final bow. Catherine Chabaud, winner of the Fastnet Challenge Cup in 1999 in her Open 60 Whirlpool, brings the curtain down on a creditable performance in both the Around Alone and Vendée Globe races.
They will be among 235 yachts entered for the biennial classic, facing a tough upwind battle over the 608-mile course. It takes them out of the Solent, down the English Channel, past Land's End, across the Irish Sea to the Fastnet Rock off the south-west of Ireland, and then back to the finish in Plymouth.
Headwinds of up to 25 knots are predicted by Mike Broughton, the racing adviser to the Royal Ocean Racing Club, which has organised the event since 1925. But the second half would give them fast conditions. While it is too early to predict records, it looks as if the smaller boats – they range from 92 down to 32 feet – may be in for a long haul.