Sorry end for carnival Cowes

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The Independent Online

The irony in the fact that all racing was cancelled on the final day of the Skandia Life Cowes Week yesterday, bringing eight days of racing to a dribbling halt, was that until the final day the year 2000 event had produced some vintage action. The week had everything from typically tricky light Solent days where boats crashed jarringly to a halt on the rocks off the Cowes Green to "Big Wednesday", where most crews saw more than 30 knots of wind and some reported gusts of over 40. And while the sailing could not have been better or more varied, the sun came out often to lend the town an atmosphere ofcarnival.

The irony in the fact that all racing was cancelled on the final day of the Skandia Life Cowes Week yesterday, bringing eight days of racing to a dribbling halt, was that until the final day the year 2000 event had produced some vintage action. The week had everything from typically tricky light Solent days where boats crashed jarringly to a halt on the rocks off the Cowes Green to "Big Wednesday", where most crews saw more than 30 knots of wind and some reported gusts of over 40. And while the sailing could not have been better or more varied, the sun came out often to lend the town an atmosphere ofcarnival.

Seven of the British Sydney 2000 Olympic team were racing at Cowes. Five of them, Andy Beadsworth, Barry Parkin, Richard Sydenham, Ian Walker and Mark Covell, teamed up aboard the Sydney 60 United Airlines where they finished 13th and Eddie Warden Owen, sailing the Irish Corby 38 Gloves Off, won the Class 1 IRC.

And John Bertrand was in town, the Australian who changed the world of sailing for ever when he won the America's Cup in 1983 with Australia II. Bertrand steered the Reflex 38 T&G for two days, his efforts contributing to their overall win in Class 2 IRC.

Even Sir Peter Blake rolled into town for a day, a guest of Omega and launching his latest project: a series of environmental expeditions. Having successfully held Team New Zealand together for long enough to win the America's Cup for a second time back in March, he is arguably the greatest racing sailor of all time and his presence did much to promote the America's Cup in Britain and the two boats This Time and Right Time, bought in by Richard Matthews and John Caulcutt as a tangible attempt to finally galvanise British interest.

But while the Blakes, the Beadsworths and the Bertrands lend the regatta a special credibility, the 900 boats and the 10,000 sailors are what Skandia Life Cowes Week is really all about. It is in classes like the X-Boat, the Dragon, Daring or Redwing, where the legions of seat-of-the-pants sailors reside. When Peter Baines clinched the 75-boat X-Boat fleet on Friday - the biggest class at the regatta - the respect for his win echoed all over Cowes.

But his dominance was not good enough to win him the overall trophy based, as the two prizes are, simply on race results in class. The White Group trophy for the dayboat classes went to John Tremlett sailing his Victory Zinnia. Tremlett won five races from seven while in the Black Group the local expert and Olympic bronze medallist Jo Richards made it all look easy with a similar five wins in Class 9.

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