Champagne comes early to the XOD fleet racing off Cowes; preceding both Classics Week and Cowes Week is the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Daily Telegraph Challenge Trophy, hosted this year on the weekend of 19th and 20th July. The Trophy race was established in 1961 for the 12 Metre Class in the Cowes Week Round the Island Race. The first winner was the 12 Metre NORSAGA (The Lord Craigmyle). But following the demise of 12 Metre racing in Cowes Week the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club wisely re-allocated this prestigious trophy to the XOD fleet for a regatta of 5 races over 2 days taking place 2 weeks before Cowes Week.
Cowes was at her best with sunshine, warm 10-15 knot breezes, factor 30 lotion for the crews and the ever challenging Solent tidal streams to contend with. The racing circuit was set around the Bramble Bank under the expert and watchful eye of Solent Race Officer veteran Bob Milner and his practiced team. A mixture of W/L laid marks and some round the cans racing was set.
17 XODs came to the line for closely fought honours, producing 5 different winners from the 5 races. At the finishing gun the 2 overall leading boats were equal on 10 points with 3rd, 4th and 5th boats equal on 16 points.
In a warm 12 knot SE breeze the Race 1 finishing gun went to the very smart X64 Lightfoot helmed by new to the Class Michael O’Donnell with Captain’s Cup winner 2012 Steven Lawrence onboard gracing the middle position as tactician. Following X64’s transom across the Line was X177 Relaxation helmed by John Long with Class Secretary Tina Scott providing tactical advice and an ample supply of Factor 30. Race 2 saw Itchenor Sailing Club star David Palmer helming X188 Princess Jalina, with crew in co-ordinated racing kit (and surely taking the prize for best dressed crew), followed by local Island XOD expert ‘Professor’ James Meaning in X156 Gleam. For Race 3 the fading and changing wind, that until then had played its part producing steady pressure from the SE, decided that enough was enough and decided not to play so the PRO wisely sent the crews for an early return to their moorings and to enjoy the best barbeque in Cowes on the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club terrace.
Race 3 was run on Sunday morning with an new NW breeze in different tidal conditions that found Paul Kelsey’s X52 Anitra, with Captain’s Cup winner 1990 David Bedford calling tactics from the middle seat, taking the winning gun, closely followed by John Tremlett (Captain’s Cup winner 2013) in X80 Lass who was enjoying a second weekend on the Solent having just won the XOD Central Solent Championship over the previous weekend. Race 4 saw changing wind and tidal stream conditions and another shuffling of the overall positions with John Tremlett, X80 Lass, teasing his way to the front at the right time to take the finishing gun, with John Claxton and David Russell-Jones’s X83 Seamist following closely behind. After lunch, and with a firm SW sea breeze filling, the PRO decided to test competitors navigation and tactical skills by setting a fixed mark course across the Bramble Bank and main shipping channel boundaries. Working his tidal stream knowledge to the full the leader round the important first windward mark and tidal gate was John Long’s X177 Relaxation, closely followed by Cowes Divisional Class Captain Mike Till steering X162 Xenia with great skill. These positions were retained for the remaining marks, producing John Long’s first winners gun of the regatta and the 5th different winner in 5 races.
The overall positions were held down to the wire – and needed a very close perusal of the series ties paragraphs in the Scoring Appendix of the Racing Rules of Sailing – to produce the overall results:
|Rank||Sail No||Name||Helm||Race 1||Race 2||Race 3||Race 4||Race 5||Nt Pts|
|2||X 80||Lass||R Bullock, R Jordan, J Lear & J Tremlett||4||3||2||1||(5)||10|
|3||X 64||Lightwood||Michael O’Donnell||1||5||7||3||(10)||16|
|4||X188||Princess Jalina||David Palmer||3||1||6||6||(7)||16|
|7||X 52||Anitra||Paul Kelsey||(17)||15||1||7||6||29|
|8||X 73||Zephyr||Jonathan Clark||(11)||7||8||5||11||31|
|9||X 99||Xin Bai||Andrew Cooper||8||8||(11)||9||8||33|
|10||X 55||Falconet||Ron Parker||5||11||(15)||14||4||34|