The second day of Panerai British Classic Week 2015 may have featured grey skies and drizzle, but nothing could dampen the spirits of the 77 strong fleet of classic yachts as they came together for a spectacular Long Inshore Race sponsored by Classic Boat in partnership with Wight Vodka. Five of the six classes started en-mass with only Class 0 starting separately and all boats raced the same course allowing for combined fleet results to be given as well as Class results.
After a short postponement the big boats of Class 0 got away on an exciting high-speed broad reach from the Royal Yacht Squadron line heading east. Ten minutes later the remaining classes set off in pursuit making a wonderful sight as they bowled down the Solent with their spinnakers billowing out before them.
Although the bigger boats had achieved some separation by the first mark at Browndown, the bulk of the fleet arrived in a huge pack making for some nail biting moments as they vied for space around the mark. Fortunately the majority of boats somehow found their way around safely, but a few got caught up in the mêlée including Stephen Jones’s Modern Classic ‘Meteor’ which arrived on the inside of a large group which refused to make room, forcing ‘Meteor’ to spin out for a second bite of the cherry. Later in the race ‘Meteor’s’ jib clew blew out so she had to retire.
Simon Payne’s Nicholson Jolina 35 ‘Damian B’ also had their fare share of excitement, but fortunately quick thinking enabled them to finish the race. “We started with wheel steering and we finished with tiller steering.’ Explained Simon. “We went round the penultimate mark and snapped our steering wires so had to rig the emergency tiller for the last reach and a beat.” Despite their troubles they still managed to finish sixth in Class 4.
Not wanting to miss out on the drama, 8 Metre Saskia’s bowman Mark (Gonz) Gonzolez was swept off the foredeck by the genoa during an unexpectedly quick tack. Displaying great presence of mind he grabbed hold of a trailing sheet and was promptly hoisted back aboard by one arm by fellow crew member Big Malc.
Whilst John Caulcutt, Jamie Matheson and Stephen Hemsley’s ‘Mariquita’ claimed line honours and a win in Class 0 and Stephen O’Flaherty’s ‘Soufriere’ led the other fleets home to win the Modern Classics, it was actually a day for the small boats and in the overall combined fleet David Sherriff’s diminutive Cork One Design ‘Jap’ won the overall race, and Class 4, by an impressive margin of over nine minutes on corrected time. Second place overall and victory in Class 3 went to Giovanni Belgrano’s ‘Whooper’, while Pascal Oddo’s ‘Jour de Fete’, being skippered this week by Bruno Troublé, took third overall.
After his disqualification following a port/starboard incident yesterday, Ed Dubois and his crew aboard ‘Firebrand’ sailed a fabulous race today putting them into fourth in the overall fleet and first in Class 2, thirty seconds ahead of nearest Class 2 rival ‘Cetewayo” owned by David Murrin. Avia Willment’s ‘Siris’ romped home to victory in the 8 Metre Class and sixth overall.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for glorious sunshine and a southwesterly wind that is expected to build from the low teens to mid twenties through the day. Two inshore races are scheduled with the first start at 10.00. Racing continues until Friday 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