+VIDEO FOOTAGE BY PHIL MORRIS
In atrocious weather conditions, two Devon businessmen recorded three records that has elevated Drew Langdon and Miles Jennings into the record books as two of Britain’s greatest offshore competitors.
After winning the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race, albeit over a very shortened course, they were crowned World A Class Endurance champions and they were presented with the prestigious Harmsworth Trophy after accumulating enough points over four races. ‘Silverline’ is this year’s winner of the traditional Cowes-Torquay-Cowes endurance race on one of the most testing courses in its 58 year history at an average speed of 63.36mph in 1 hour 55 minutes, just one minute quicker than second place ‘Fortitude’.
A small group of us huddled on the end of Bournemouth Pier as strong winds, rain and rough seas had us wondering if the 2018 Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race was going to happen. We had already been told it was being run over a shortened course but, poor visibility even put the shortened distance in doubt. However, the sound of open exhausts in the distance and a plume of white spray ensured the race was on and the familiar shape of the Outerlimits ‘Silverline’ with Drew Langdon and Miles Jennings aboard could be seen battling mountainous waves as it approached the pier on its way to the first of two laps of Bournemouth Bay.
Chasing hard around 400 metres behind was the Cougar ‘Fortitude’ with Richard Carr, Mark Pascoe and James Sinclair aboard. Both the leading duo were in N class while the third place boat ‘Warpath’, powered by two Ilmor’s, was in B class. The veteran Cigarette ‘Dry Martini’ crewed by Mike Bontoff, Christian Toll and Mike Peel, was having a particularly rough ride, but in spite of her age (40+) she hung on grimly to her place in the leading top four. At this early stage of the race we assumed the quartet were the only ones still racing, but we were wrong. Some minutes later Dorian Griffith’s Yanmar diesel powered Fountain ‘Blast Off’ powered into view ahead of a procession of boats – the diminutive RHIB ‘Mr Mako’, Markus Hendrick’s ‘Hendricks 55’, the Belgium entry ‘Biretta Due’ and last but certainly not least, the Whitley family’s trusty steed ‘Fugitive’.
It is almost impossible to describe how bad conditions were in Bournemouth Bay, even the RNLI fleet would have struggled in the rolling seas – a good test for these endurance boats which are designed to balance both speed and heavy offshore conditions. Positions changed little as the small fleet of eight set off on lap two of the bay apart from Cougar ‘Fortitude’ which had taken over the lead.
We had heard via radio that the pre-race favourite, the quad-engined 52 foot Outerlimits ‘Going Lean’, had called it a day as safety cut-outs on the FTP engines kept cutting out. Markus Hendrick’s 55 footer managed one lap of the bay before technical issues resulted in his retirement.
A lap down was Tom Montgomery-Swan’s ‘Sunus’ which had lost a prop blade at the start, and Tom decided to return to Cowes to fit a new prop. Sadly, that propeller failed off Bournemouth and the bright yellow craft called it a day.
‘Silverline’ regained the lead after Carr’s ‘Fortitude’ developed a minor trim fault while ‘Dry Martini’ slowed to a crawl when an engine seized leaving ‘Blast Off ‘ to inherit 4th place behind ‘Warpath’ in third.
Historians will tell you this was not the roughest Cowes race recorded, but it certainly rates up there with toughest, and we congratulate those teams who completed the full two lap endurance course.
1st – A47 – Silverline – Drew Langdon/Miles Jennings – 1 hr 55.55 mins
2nd – A69 – Fortitude – Richard Carr/Mark Pascoe/James Sinclair – 1 hr 56.56 mins
3rd – B69 – Warpath – Glenn Chidzoy/Ole Finholt/Gordon Compton – 2 hr 06.26 mins
4th – C100 – Blast Off – Dorian Griffith/Will Stevens – 3 hr 11.06 mins
5th – E36 – Mr Mako – David Foa/Charles Swales – 3 hr 18.46 mins
6th – G130 – Fugitive – Stuart Cureton/Francis Whitley – 3 hr 20.23 mins
7th – B9 – Dry Martini – Chrisian Toll/Mike Bontoft/Michael Peet – 4 hr 35 mins