Westward Cup - A blaze of excitement on day 1

Preparing for the off on the first day of racing at the Westward Cup 2012
The second running of the Westward Cup commenced on the water today at 1100hrs, bringing together the cream of the world’s Big Class yachts in a blaze of excitement and anticipation of some great racing in Solent waters for the owners and their guests. Eleonora, Mariette and Mariquita also created a breathtaking sight for the spectators on Cowes Parade and Princes Green as the yachts prepared for their start on the Royal Yacht Squadron line.

The Westward Cup is being run by the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS), the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) and the Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM). These three prestigious clubs have again joined forces to revive Big Class yachting in Cowes and Mr Zbynek Zak, the originator of the event in 2010 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the launch of the racing schooner Westward in 1910, says he is equally proud and delighted to be back in Cowes.

As the boats set off they made a stunning sight powering up under full sail in a northerly breeze of 15-18 knots and heading off into the western Solent with Mariette as the front runner. The course of 29nm saw the fleet experience variable wind speeds with winds decreasing severely as the race progressed and Eleonora fell behind with Mariette and Mariquita enjoying a spot of match racing.

David Aisher, Principal Race Officer, commenting after racing this afternoon, said, ‘Conditions were terrific first thing, but the wind went left, later abated and was recorded at five knots at one point which made it a struggle for the largest boat in the fleet, Eleonora.’

The two ‘smaller’ yachts were racing with their full race crew complement today plus their guests whilst Eleonora are also hosting a group of young sailors between the ages of 18 to 23 on board this week. They are novices to this type of racing and have been invited by the RYS and NYYC to introduce some new blood into classic yacht racing.

Mariquita took line honours finishing at 14.31.43, closely followed by Mariette 14.35.16 with Eleonora completing her first day’s racing in Cowes at 15.20.34.

On corrected time, the final positions after Day One are:

1st Mariette
2nd Mariquita
3rd Eleonora

Tomorrow’s weather is looking fairly light and there is a possibility that racing will be abandoned. A meeting with the skippers this evening will determine whether racing takes place on Wednesday 13th June.

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Royal Yacht Squadron website