Boat damage and races hit in high winds

FIERCE winds caused damage to boats and saw yesterday’s Extreme Sailing Series action called off – but that didn’t prevent an array of thrilling racing at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, with a sprinkling of royalty and Hollywood thrown in.

A-list actor Ewan McGregor and Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne and top equestrienne, were among the stars who took part in the Artemis Challenge, and the gusts didn’t spare them, McGregor feeling the full force of a wave in the face.

McGregor joined Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss while Phillips and TV presenter Natalie Pinkham partnered top round-the-world sailor Dee Caffari, but neither finished on the winning side in the charitable contest.

Vincent Riou’s PRB was the first of the four IMOCA 60s across the line in the day’s first race, with Bernard Staum’s Cheminees Poujoulat second, Thomson and McGregor third and Caffari’s crew a close fourth.

Elsewhere, Chris Froy, Andrew Shaw and Alan Roberts’ Phoenix leads the 145-strong XOD class by seven points after winning yesterday’s fourth race, their second of the week.

George David’s Rambler was first across the line in the IRC Big Boat class, but Niklas Zennstrom’s won on corrected time, while Tony Lowe’s Incognito took his second race victory in the First 40.7s.

Winds of up to 30 knots caused organisers to abandon the fifth day of the Extreme Racing Series, one of the main attractions at Cowes, while the weather damaged boats. Three J109s suffered broken hulls, as did larger boats, like Richard Matthew’s Humphreys 54 Oystercatcher XVIII.