Cowes week off to a testing start as windy conditions hit the Solent

Sailing festival is gets underway with strong breezes catching many out

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The Independent Online

Holidays can be hard work if you are racing in Cowes Week and more than a few found themselves adding swimming to the curriculum on an opening day staged in testing westerly breezes.

Numbers are holding up healthily with over 800 boats competing, and Aberdeen Asset Management has extended its sponsorship to a fleet which will grow larger as competitors converge on the Solent for the start of the Fastnet Race next weekend.

That 605-mile virility test first set a limit for this year of 300 boats, saw it almost immediately oversubscribed, and has now added various categories to swell the total to over 370.

More immediately, some well known names were quickly striding towards the silverware, first among them Sir Keith Mills, who recently added a Knight Grand Cross to a previous knighthood for his role in securing the 2012 Olympic Games.

His star-studded crew shepherded his TP52 5 Degrees West to the Queen’s Cup while in Class 2 Dutchman Piet Vroon, almost as well known in the Solent as on his home waters at Breskens, took the Vanduara Bowl.

One sports boat managed to turn turtle, with the crew being safely rescued, and one crewman who fell off an Etchells keelboat was put back on board by Inshore Rescue to complete his duties.

Still the biggest class, with over 80 entries, is the 1911-vintage X One Design, from the board of Alfred Westmacott, and it was a boat called Lass, campaigned by the quartet of John Tremlett, Jeremy Lear, Richard Jordan, and Richard Bullo which beat the rest home.