|A charity gig? Or is Pippa Middleton honing her helming skills for Volvo Ocean Race!!!|
The opening skirmishes at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week were cast aside yesterday as near perfect sailing conditions produced some cracking contests, and despite being only two days in, some hot contenders for ultimate class honours.
A busy night for the boat repair teams in Cowes meant a full turn-out for the Daring class, including the damaged Double Knot and Destroyer as well as a return of IRC Class 0 boats Tonnerre de Breskens and Tokoloshe II after their collision on Saturday. But it made no difference to the leaderboard in either class.
Giles Peckham, a veteran of 30 Cowes Week regattas, once more stretched his legs in his Daring Dauntless and scored his second win of the week, again by more than four minutes. Two minutes separated the next three boats, with Magnus Wheatley’s Destroyer, which was holed the previous day, coming in fourth having led for much of the race.
“It was an interesting race with lots of opportunities to change places, so it was about finding the shifts and finding the pressure and working out how much effect the tide had. So it was very tactical,” said Peckham, who in 2008 was crowned King of Cowes when he won an Laser SB3 event, beating champions from all other classes.
Defending his class win of 2013, the popular Peckham is now favourite for this year’s title though a forecast for light airs today and Tuesday may see some changes to the rankings, as they are bound to in the big boat class which has so far been dominated by Scottish businessman Lord Irving Laidlaw in his Reichel Pugh 52 Cape Fling II.
Laidlaw, with tactician Peter Holmberg on board along with offshore whizzes Paul Standbridge and Emma Westmacott, arrived in Cowes with a mission to overhaul the winter’s defeats by Piet Vroon’s Tonnerre de Breskens, who beat them in nine of the ten races they raced during the Caribbean season.
At Cowes, the tables have turned though, Tonnerre was forced off the course in the opening race after a collision with the GP42 Tokoloshe II and then made an error on the start line yesterday to finish behind Cape Fling after a close contest.
“We did a really nice job against them in the Caribbean but this week they are the benchmark,” said Frank Gerber, Tonnerre de Breskens boat captain.
“But it could get interesting if the wind goes light over the next two days when Tokoloshe II should come to the fore. We might still be able to win this class – we missed out over the last couple of days but we can’t afford to screw up now.
“We won here last year and beat Tokoloshe in the Round the Island Race so we have as good a chance of winning as anyone.”
Pippa Middleton proved herself an expert and competitive helm when she took charge of one of the UKSA boats as part of a charity event which will be supported by the Princess Royal and the Duke of Edinburgh this week.