Day five of Panerai British Classic Week kicked off with a 9am briefing ahead of the long inshore race sponsored by Classic Boat. After several days’ racing and socialising, crews could be seen rallying themselves ready for another day out on the water. After refuelling on coffee and croissants, the fleet left the dock with the promise of a strong wind building all day from the south-west.
The 6mRs set off promptly at 11am on the RYS inner line heading east to East Bramble for first of two round the cans races. The main fleet followed closely behind, starting with an easterly running tide on the RYS outer line. Spinnakers were hoisted as the fleet crossed the line, creating a line of brightly coloured kites that spanned most of the width of the Solent. With ominous dark grey clouds to the south and breaking blue sky and sunshine on the other, it was quite a spectacle for spectators and passing cruising yachts.
After a long first downwind leg to Darling Associates Architects the fleet descended in groups upon the mark, making for a lively rounding to port. Spinnakers were dropped on the approach as yachts gybed around the mark to head upwind and photographers could be seen snapping away as close collisions were avoided between the yachts heading upwind into the oncoming downwind fleet.
With high water at 13:30, the tide turned to run to the west at approximately 12pm, meaning most of the fleet was able to beat back up the channel with the westerly tide. From Darling Associates Architects, yachts set a course in 12-15knots across the channel (taking in the view of the iconic Norris Castle on the northern shore of the Isle of Wight) to Trinity House, opposite the entrance to Cowes Harbour.
Meanwhile the 6mRs had completed their first race and went straight into their second round the cans race of the day. Starting on the RYS inner line, the 6mRs set off downwind to N Ryde Middle to port, back upwind to Prince Consort to port, followed by Fever-Tree to starboard. A short leg inshore took them to Royal London YC and back to Fever-Tree before beating with the tide to the RYS finish.
Back to the fleet and the long inshore race…
Making sure to avoid in and outgoing ferries, the fleet rounded Trinity House to starboard and hoisted spinnakers for a cross-channel broad reach to Hamble Yacht Services in the Hamble estuary. With the wind and tide now coming from the west, the fleet gybed around the mark and opted to stay close inshore for the downwind leg to Browndown.
Light cloud and patchy sun shone down on the fleet as they dropped spinnakers on the approach to Browndown before a cross-channel beat with the tide up to Snowden, opposite the entrance to Cowes Harbour. As they rounded Snowden, helms bore away leaving the mark to port and hoisting spinnakers for a final downwind leg with the tide to West Ryde. The moorings immediately after the mark, off the Cowes breakwater, were a potential banana skin but yachts managed to negotiate their way through without incident.
After a short downwind leg, the fleet sailed a fast-paced beat back with fair tide to the RYS finish line. Having been fast on the water all week, Spirit 52 Oui Fling continued her impressive performance taking line honours, followed by Guernsey-based Spirit DH63 Gwenhyfar and Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford.
On corrected time, Flight of Ufford won Class 1, with Oui Fling in second and Spirit 37 Strega third. Opposition took the top spot in Class 2, followed by Anteren and Aeolus in joint second. Whooper won Class 3, with French yacht Volonté in second and the oldest yacht in the regatta, Mikado, third. Stella Timoa took another first in Class 4, followed by Cereste and Nausikaa. Anne Sophie won the 8mRs, with Carron II in second and Falcon third.
The two 6mR races produced the same positioning with Melita taking two thirds, Thistle two seconds and Sioma two firsts.
Owner of Flight of Ufford Sean McMillan commented, “The long inshore race was fantastic, a wonderful but demanding course in lovely breeze. We had a very difficult transition with an enormous container ship in the middle of the channel but that’s Cowes; different circumstances are thrown at you all the time and you have to react, it’s exciting. There is nowhere else that has the complexities of racing in Cowes, it’s my favourite place in the world to race.”
All photos: Chris Brown Photography