Sailing: Cowes cowed by lack of breeze

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The Independent Online
AFTER the fireworks of the night before, all was very flat in the Solent yesterday. Going west with the tide was easy enough, but then it was a case of anchoring, taking an early lunch and praying for a sea-breeze. By the time the breeze did appear many boats had already decided to give in and go for an early tea.

Reliance on the tide for progress and pile-ups at the marks led to inevitable collisions. And, despite trying to set brisk, short legs the Royal Southern Yacht Club race committee was forced to shorten nearly all the courses.

Don Wood's Red Sorcerer, the winner of Class One, was content to see a complaint about sportsmanship by Simon Cutt's Backlash resolved with a warning letter. Peter Baines scored another win to take the Captain's Cup in the XOD Class which he also won in 1992.

It brought to an end a week of mixed fortunes and quality, of the occasional high-profile bungle, and of some strong individual performances in a variety of conditions.

The lack of a sponsor made no difference once the boats were on the start line. What was missing was the depth of foreign interest or the emergence of an outstanding boat. Although highlights included David Knight's Summer Pudding, which put in a strong showing in the Sigma 38 class, and David Best, of Northern Ireland, who brought a low-budget former one-tonner, Sidewinder, and took the first major trophy of the week, the Queen's Cup, and added the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup.

Richard Matthews' new 46- foot Essex Girl failed to find the overdrive needed to establish superiority over her Class One rivals. She was the only new boat in that class, a sad reflection on what is happening in the top flight.

In terms of event management, the organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, can hardly call it a runaway success packed with star names. But then the RORC, like Cowes Week, is still firmly rooted in club events.

The Teesside Round Britain Race, which stops at Cork, Lerwick in the Shetlands, and Hartlepool, starts today.