Day four of Panerai British Classic Week 2015 featured both race five of the formal racing series and the traditional Ladies Race. For race five the boats were sent to the west in a building sea breeze for a great mainly windward/leeward romp. With a strong flood tide running, the ability to accurately judge the lay-lines proved to be the day’s most useful skill. Sadly not every boat got it right and there were a number that had to take two and even three bites of the cherry to round marks.
The fleet looked stunning close tacking up the Island shore attempting to dodge the rocks. Several boats left their tacks too late including Liz and Mark Rushall’s Honeybee ‘Ragdoll’, who managed to free themselves, and James Youngman’s Lutine of Helford, being helmed today by double Moth World Champion Simon Payne of Official Clothing Partner Zhik, who wasn’t quite as lucky when she hit Gurnard Ledge and got stuck firm on a lee shore and were eventually forced to call for assistance and retire.
The start for Class 0 was the closest of the week and watching these incredibly powerful but stately ladies close tacking was a thrill for all. John Caulcutt, Jamie Matheson and Stephen Hemsley’s ‘Mariquita’ claimed their third race victory of the series from Armin Fischer and Robert Towbin’s ‘Sumurn’ with Zbynek Zak’s ‘Eleonora’ third.
Sean McMillan’s ‘Flight of Ufford’ also claimed her third win of the series in Class 1 for the Modern Classics. 2014 Modern Classics winner ‘Soufriere’, owned by Stephen O’Flaherty took second and Brian Scowcroft’s ‘Phantom’ was third.
Although Ed Dubois ‘Firebrand’ made a spectacular port tack start in Class 2, it was David Murrin in ‘Cetewayo’ who went on to win by over four minutes from Vincent De Vries’ ‘L’Esprit du Morbihan’, with Jamie Matheson’s ‘Opposition’ third.
Giovanni Belgrano’s Whooper won Class 3 by an even bigger margin of 18 minutes and 37 seconds. Barney Sandeman’s ‘Laughing Gull’ took second with Andy King’s Gluckauf third.
‘Jap’, the oldest yacht in the regatta at 118 years young, which this week is being helmed by Paralympic Gold Medallist Andy Cassell, continued her domination of Class 4 with another win. Jonathan Dyke’s ‘Cereste’ finished third, almost a minute ahead of Luke Alexander Yeates’ ‘Spirit of Marion’.
In Class 5 Pascal Oddo’s Q Class ‘Jour de Fete’ won Class while Avia Willment’s ‘Siris’ was first 8 Metre by just 18 seconds from Murdoch McKillop’s ‘Saskia’.
After a short break for lunch it was time for a bit of girl power as the boats came to the line for the Ladies Race. With the wind now approaching 30 knots and some very big wind over tide waves it was definitely not a race for the feint hearted. Whilst some boats sailed with their usual crews plus a lady helm, Griff Rhys Jones’ ‘Argyll’ brought in an almost all female crew for the race. With top multihull sailor and classic regatta regular Maddy Anderson taking the lion’s share of the helming duties they acquitted themselves admirably finishing a close second to Laura Dillon helming ‘Soufriere’.
Post racing top Irish match racer Laura explained that she flew in especially for today’s race to helm Soufriere for the first time. She laughed that one of her biggest challenges was actually seeing the tell tails. Owner and regular helm Stephen O’Flaherty agreed explaining that the boat is so narrow it’s a struggle to see them unless you sit to leeward. Laura particularly thanked tactician Nigel Young and mainsheet man Maurice “Prof” O’Connell for their input during the day. Nigel in turn praised Laura’s helming skills, which saw them take off from the start line under spinnaker like a scalded cat at maximum speed.
Today the International Jury continued its deliberations in regard to Race 4 and whether boats had or had not sailed the correct course. Having yesterday decided not to disqualify anyone who had passed to port of the offending mark Gurnard, today it decided that those boats who had passed to starboard were entitled to request redress and instructed boats who wished to do so to sign a declaration at the Race Office by 18.00 on Thursday 23 July. Whilst this does bring some clarity, it unfortunately means that we are still not able to confirm the results of race 4 and the overall standings.
Tomorrow the yachts will take part in the Around the Island Race sponsored by EFG International, starting to the west from the Royal Yacht Squadron line at 08.00. There will also be an alternative inshore race starting at 10.00 for those not wishing to go offshore. 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