Niklas Zennstrôm definitely flies the Swedish flag, but he runs a major part of his sail racing campaign out of the Hamble River, so it was as an honorary Brit that he lifted the day’s top trophy, the Buckingham Coronation Challenge Bowl, in AAM Cowes Week in his 72-foot Rán.
He beat another Brit, Sir Keith Mills, into second place in a boat 20 feet shorter, the TP52 Fiveᵒ West and not far behind was American Hap Fauth’s rival 72-footer, Bella Mente, winner on Wednesday of the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup.
Zennstrôm and Fauth are limbering up for the Fastnet Race, which starts Sunday, but Thursday in Cowes Week is also Artemis Challenge day. In theory it is for both 70-foot trimarans and 60-foot monohulls to race the 50 miles round the Isle of Wight but this year, with light winds forecast, only the trimarans went round while the 60s did the equivalent of repeated attempts at the back nine, charging up and down the eastern Solent.
Seb Josse and Charles Caudrelier double handedly, as they will be for the Fastnet, managed to beat Sidney Gavignet’s fully crewed Oman Air, as he will be for the Fastnet, by 10 minutes but both were well outside the record set last year by Michel Desjoyeaux in Foncia.
François Gabart, winner earlier this year of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race, led the 60s, giving the £2,500 prize money to the French lifeboat organisation while second-placed Alex Thomson donated his prize to Kibera in Need. Bernard Stamm, with designer Juan Kouyoumdjian on board, managed to run Cheminées Poujoulat aground but was still only last of the six by one minute to Brian Thompson’s Artemis Ocean Racing.
In La Rochelle, Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield are lying third in the men’s 470 world championships with two races scheduled for Friday ahead of Saturday’s top 10 medal race.
But the 2012 silver medal pairing of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark will struggle to make the medal race after two premature starts in their three races on Thursday, sailed in 15 to 16 knots.