The sun returned on the third day of Panerai British Classic Week 2015 and the fleet enjoyed two spectacular round the cans races in the Western Solent, races three and four of the series. Whilst the classes raced separately in the morning they came together for a combined fleet race in the afternoon.
It was a truly glorious day’s sailing and race three gave the boats fantastic flat water sailing in 15 to 18 knots from the south west. With the tide flooding the boats came off the Royal Yacht Squadron start line and headed inshore for a classic short tacking battle up Cowes Green, much to the delight of the spectators.
Race four by contrast was in rough water as the ebbing tide versus building sea breeze created a classic Solent chop. Class 0, who start first for safety reasons because of their size, got away on the first attempt, but the combined fleet start proved rather trickier as there was significant port end bias on the line and some 70+ boats wanting to start in the same place. The initial effort resulted in a general recall and although the fleet got away cleanly at the second time of asking it was more than a little frantic at the Squadron end of the line.
As they returned to the dock the sailors all had huge grins on their faces and were in high spirits. Sadly back ashore it transpired that although race three results were secure, the results of race four were subject to protests by both competitors and the Race Committee as a large number of boats had passed Gurnard Buoy to port on the run back to the finish, which appeared to be in contradiction with the Sailing Instructions. The International Jury, being chaired this week by Bryan Willis, deliberated and concluded that the Sailing Instructions were ambiguously worded. As a result the protests against those boats that had passed the buoy to port were dismissed, but tomorrow the Jury will open a hearing to consider redress for the boats that passed the mark to starboard,
Fortunately the sailors of classic boats are a very positive bunch and so, despite the confusion and uncertainty of the protest and redress hearings, they threw themselves into the post racing Open Yachts Dock Party with abandon, enjoying free drinks, a paella supper, a live band and a great opportunity to indulge in their favourite activity of showing off and talking about their yachts.
Although we are unable to bring you the overall and race four results at this time, what we can confirm is that the victors in race three were Armin Fischer and Robert Towbin’s ‘Sumurun’ in Class 0, Sean McMillan’s ‘Flight of Ufford’ in Class 1, Jamie Matheson’s ‘Opposition’ in Class 2, Giovanni Belgrano’s ‘Whooper’ in Class 3, David Sherriff’s ‘Jap’ in Class 4 and Avia Willment’s ‘Siris’ in Class 5.
But Panerai British Classic Week is about more than just race results. It is a celebration of these historic boats and their fascinating stories.
The delightful Solent 38 One Design gaff cutter ‘Kelpie’ was built in 1903 by J G Fay & Co to an Alfred Milne design and is one of the oldest boats competing. One of eight sister ships, she originally rated as a 42 linear rater. In 1907 she competed in the first ever 12 Metre race but was quickly outclassed as a 12 by boats designed and built specifically to the rule. In 1923 she was re-rigged still as a gaff cutter, but with a much taller mast and shorter bow-sprit and boom, enabling her to compete successfully again as a 12 for a short time, even against the early Bermudan-rigged boats. Her current owner Pelham Olive has extensively restored her and taken her back, as far as possible, to her 1920s rig.
‘Argyll’ was designed in 1948 by Olin Stephens and built by Simms Brothers in Massachussets for American shipping magnate William T Moore, who transported her to regattas on his liners. She won the Newport-Bermuda Race of 1950 and her racing success continues today under the ownership of British television star Griff Rhys Jones with whom she has won a number of trophies on the Mediterranean Classics circuit as well as finishing second in this year’s Panerai Transatlantic Race. She has also starred in several of Griff’s television programmes.
Tomorrow race five of the series and the Ladies Race will be run and the forecast is for more good winds. Racing continues until Friday 24 July and the regatta will conclude on Saturday 25 July with a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green at 11.00.
Report by Fiona Brown