Sports kit is sports kit and cruising kit is cruising kit, so when the benign conditions of the opening two days of Cowes Week tipped over into perfect racing conditions on the third day yesterday some of the cruiser crews found the going a little on the tougher side.
The tougher, of course, revelled in the 15- to 16-knot westerly, especially those TP52s who are contesting class one in northern waters as their Mediterranean counterparts venture outside to Portugal for their next Breitling regatta. Ireland's Colm Barrington returned to winning ways in his latest steed, Flash Glove, to win the Sir Walter Preston Cup as the top four slots went to TPs.
It can cost over ¿1m (£675,000) a year to do the Med circuit as the boats are packed with top, pampered professionals, especially from the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race scenes, who are flown in from everywhere.
In Cowes, many of the crew in the more humdrum classes are lucky if the skipper gives them a free T-shirt and a sandwich for lunch, and, when the great god on the helm is being tested by a perfect track, nerves are jangling all round. So, while the very best performers executed their boat handling tricks with an insouciant flourish, it was rock and roll on the edge of control for their junior colleagues with spinnakers filled with West Solent breeze.
Knuckles white, hearts in mouths and with half of them looking like stunned mullets, they then had to drop one sail, hoist another, adjust a third as they turned round South Brambles buoy to cross both wind and tide before clawing their way up a short beat to the finish.
Helmsmen with no rights at all were calling for water as they prayed that they would avoid a collision and that an inexperienced crew would do all the jobs they were struggling to remember themselves.
Sails flew everywhere, crew trying to look busy scrambled to any part of the boat where there was no job to be done and so no responsibility for sorting out the chaos.
More coolly, Louise Morton took her vintage quarter-tonner to victory in class eight, and Richard and Rachel Donald won for a second consecutive day in their class nine Folkboat, as did Liz Savage in the J80.
And the Baileys were back on the podium, Graham first in the Etchells, Julia second in her Dragon.Reuse content