Weather forecast and travel restrictions took a toll on the weekend’s racing with Saturday’s racing cancelled, and with just 6 of the original 12 hopefuls making it to the start line on Sunday. PRO Andrew Millband and his fellow volunteers from Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club, started the fleet close to the Hill Head shore under a predominately westerly breeze.  Ante Razmilovic’s Swedish Blue  led the 4 starters who chose left on a long starboard tack. Paul Ward’s Mans Best Friend and Jon Warrick’s Audrey sailed hard right. After favourable shifts, the left had the upper hand arriving first at the top mark with Swedish Blue leading comfortably, and Mans Best Friend  well back in 5th.

On the run, Swedish Blue still in the lead took the right hand gate when the wind  shifted right causing the chasing pack to gybe onto port but still taking the right hand gate.  Only Mans Best Friend remained on port sailing to the left and shot from near last into 3rd .The leaders, Swedish Blue and Shaun Frohlich’s Exabyte, tacked onto port, sailing into the shift, while the followers were now rounding the right gate couldn’t easily get to the right hander leaving Swedish Blue and Exabyte 1st and 2nd place at the finish, followed by Mans Best Friend.

As the Committee tried to reset the line in the  strengthening right hander, a rain squall hit the fleet, appropriately bringing  hail to The Ice Bucket Regatta, sponsored by Andrew Cooper. Andrew Millband and his team struggled to get a reasonable start line for race 2 with these shifty winds but got the Fleet away with Ziggy, sailed by the weekend’s sole Youth Team and Adele Young arriving  first  at the top mark ahead of Audrey. A slow kite hoist handed Audrey the lead, followed by a wide leeward mark letting in Swedish Blue into second place. As in Race 1, Mans Best Friend tookthe  left gate capitalising on another wind shift to finish second behind the winner,Audrey .

Based on the two races so far, Paul Ward and team showed a liking for the right whenever the breeze was up, and chose pre-start to tack onto port, dip the fleet, and  sailed out to the right. This decision paid handsomely as he led the race from start to finish.  China White had followed them out to the right, while the rest of the teams headed left. After the top mark rounding unfortunately, wind and waves were against China White, and they lost their second place to Audrey. On  the  second lap, Swedish Blue, who had been leading the regatta until this race fought from 4th to arrive at the top mark just behind Audrey, but their slicker crew work meant that they could immediately gybe onto Audreys breeze, which, by the bottom mark, turned into a luffing match, giving Swedish Blue  inside overlap. After a smooth mark rounding,  Razmilovic pulled ahead of Audrey, and for the final beat to the finish, by defending their position, Swedish Blue pushed Audrey back to 4th allowing Exabyte through into 3rd.

So the results are in: Mans Best Friend and Swedish Blue  tied on 6 points, but Mans Best Friend (Paul Ward, Ben Saxton, Paul Childs) declared winner on the count back rule. Exabyte (Shaun Frohlich, David Bedford and James Anderson “Rupert”) 3rd and Audrey (Jon Warwick, Will Bedford (helm), Fraser Woodley, and Hanna Hunt)  in 4th overall and first Corinthian team.

After racing, the  Fleet celebrated, in a socially distanced manner, a chocolate cake celebrating David Bedford’s birthday, and recognising him as a Solent legend, a remarkable sailor, and a talented coach.

There’s more racing to come for the Cowes Etchells Fleet before Xmas:  soon to be posted on  Cowes Etchells facebook page

For results see