Tuesday of Panerai British Classic Week started with sunshine in abundance but a distinct lack of consistent wind. The AP flag was raised by the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) race office, before briefing was held in the Panerai hospitality marquee over coffee and croissants.
Crews made the most of the delay, with many choosing to relax and enjoy the downtime and others taking the opportunity to do some mid-regatta maintenance. Towards midday, the wind filled in from the south-west and the yachts eagerly headed out into the Solent for the removal of the AP flag.
Class starts kicked off just after 1pm in blue skies, sunshine and a light breeze. All classes set off from the RYS inner line heading upwind with the westerly running tide. Most yachts opted for the channel end of the line to maximise the tide, whilst paying careful attention not to overshoot it.
Today’s race saw the 6mRs, 8mRs and Class 1 head out to Gurnard Ledge off the north coast of the Isle of Wight before rounding the mark to starboard and hoisting spinnakers to cross the channel (and the tide) over to YachtDataBank off the mainland coast.
By this point, the Solent was at its best. Sun glistening on the water, barely a cloud in the sky and a (fluctuating) 7knots of wind; champagne sailing all round.
Classes 2, 3 and 4 sailed a slightly shorter course, racing upwind to Cowes Yacht Haven (just short of Gurnard Ledge) before crossing over to YachtDataBank on a spinnaker reach.
From YachtDataBank, the 6mRs, 8mRs and Class 1 dropped their kites to beat with the tide to West Lepe in the middle of the channel. From West Lepe, it was a spinnaker hoist and a downwind leg to Sevenstar Yacht Transport just outside the Beaulieu River estuary.
Classes 2, 3 and 4 set a westerly course upwind to craftinsure.com, before Classes 2 and 3 took a reach to Gurnard Ledge and on to Elephantboatyard.co.uk. Rounding the final mark to port, Classes 2 and 3 joined Class 4 on the homeward leg to the RYS line.
Meanwhile, the 6mRs, 8mRs and Class 1 sailed back upwind to craftinsure.com, rounding the mark to port before hoisting spinnakers for the final run to the RYS finish line.
At Egypt Point, the wind died, and yachts were faced with an oncoming tide, which resulted in the whole fleet coming together to inch their way to the finish line. A pocket of windless air sat directly between the fleet and the line as crews tried desperately to hold on to every little gain.
Varying tactics were employed, with some yachts choosing to take the shorter route, closer to the shore, whilst others took a wide berth around the point and went out into the channel to find more wind. It was a game of cat and mouse as many yachts made multiple sail changes in the short distance between the point and the line.
A crew member from Viola commented, “The finish was unbelievable with all the yachts together at the end, but we really enjoyed the race, beautiful conditions, and we love racing in the Solent.”
Owner of Timoa, Andrew Gilmour, added, “We had a great start and a good first beat in lovely conditions. We then entered the lottery of the flat zone off the Royal Yacht Squadron, where it was anyone’s game! We were lucky enough to find some breeze to get us over the line in a good position.”
In Class 1, Spirit 52 Oui Fling took first, with another Spirit 52 Happy Forever in second and Spirit 46 Dido in third. Opposition was first in Class 2, followed by Aeolus in second and Firebrand third. The much-admired Viola won Class 3, followed by Cerinthe and regatta-regular Whooper. Stella Timoa won Class 4, with Cereste in second and Nausikaa in third. In the 8mR Class, Anne Sophie came in first with Carron II in second and Falcon third. The 6mR class was won by Sioma, followed by Melita and Thistle.
To view all results, visit: panerai.sailracer.org
All photos: Chris Brown Photography