This year’s Panerai British Classic Week will see over 50 classic yachts compete in a six-race series in the Solent from 13th to 20th July. Stand-out entries for the regatta include three Fifes, an ex-America’s Cup challenger and yachts from France, Holland and Switzerland.
Organised by the British Classic Yacht Club and sponsored by luxury watchmaker Panerai, the UK’s premier classic yacht regatta will include an interesting variety of classic and modern classic yachts from across Europe.
Notable entries amongst the fleet include three William Fife III designed yachts, including Viola; a gaff cutter built in 1908. Currently based in France, she is well known on the Mediterranean classic yacht scene and recently won her class at Voiles d’Antibes. Nyachilwa, a Fife-designed fractional Bermudan sloop built in 1952, will race in Class 4. The third Fife, Mikado, is a Clyde Linear 30 Rater built in 1904, and is the oldest yacht in the fleet.
Another gaff cutter, Cynthia, achieved acclaim earlier this year when she was shortlisted in the Classic Boat Awards’ Restoration of the Year (over 40ft) category. Designed by WT Jacket, and built in 1910,
Cynthia has recently been restored over five years by respected, retired rigger Peter Lucas. Following the restoration, Cynthia has a new rig very close to the original gaff cutter version, having had a Bermudan rig for most of her life in between.
In Class 1 (modern classic, Spirit of Tradition yachts), nine Spirit yachts (comprising a 63 Deckhouse, three Spirit 52s, three Spirit 46s and two Spirit 37s) will race alongside a Gurney 63 Custom yacht, Crusade.
Class 2 will include the famous 12m Bermudan sloop Sceptre, which was built on behalf of the Royal Yacht Squadron to challenge for the 1958 America’s Cup. Today, she is carefully maintained by members of the Sceptre Preservation Society for cruising and racing around the UK.
In the lead up to the 8 Metre Worlds (taking place in Cowes from 20th July), seven 8 Metres will race in their own class at Panerai British Classic Week. Falcon, Frøya and Carron II (all 8 Metres) represent some of this year’s international entries, coming from Holland and Switzerland respectively.
BCYC commodore Jonathan Dyke commented, “The variety and notoriety amongst this year’s entries shows the UK classic yacht scene is still thriving. With several international entrants in the fleet, it’s clear the Solent remains one of the most attractive venues for racing in Europe. We are very much looking forward to welcoming these beautiful yachts and their passionate owners to Cowes on Saturday.”
The six-race series organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron will include a schedule of varied and quality courses, including the popular Nab Tower race from last year. Criteria for entry is IRC classic yachts of 24ft and over or modern classic, Spirit of Tradition yachts. Fast-paced racing for classes 1-4, an 8mR and a 6mR class will take place in the challenging tidal waters of the Solent against the historic, picturesque backdrop of the Isle of Wight.
This year’s event will have two elements to the prizes. All yachts will race towards the primary IRC overall and class winner prizes, which will be awarded solely on race results. Building on last year’s emphasis on authenticity, race results will also go towards a second set of prizes to be won by yachts deemed as authentic by a panel of independent judges.
The experienced judges comprise Classic Boat group editor Rob Peake (as lead judge), classic yacht builder Martin Nott, marine writer and photographer Nigel Sharp and yacht designer Paul Spooner. Two new additions to the judging panel have been announced. Hannah Cunliffe from National Historic Ships and Steffan Meyric-Hughes, editor of Classic Boat magazine, bring a wealth of experience from the world of classic yachts.
The social scene ashore will be lively as ever with the traditional welcome reception on the lawn at The Royal Yacht Squadron on Sunday 14th July. During the week, skippers, crew and their guests will enjoy daily hospitality in the Panerai Lounge. On the Tuesday, regatta attendees will have the opportunity to peruse the fleet of timeless classics during the Open Yachts Pontoon Party (sponsored by Spirit Yachts and Classic Boat). A new event for this year, the crew Pontoon Party, will give competitors the chance to socialise and enjoy a BBQ in front of Cowes Yacht Haven on Thursday. A week of entertainment will be rounded off on Friday 19th July at the Regatta Dinner and prize-giving followed by dancing to a live band.
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