Nine knots of wind coming in from the east was blowing across Cowes Yacht Haven as skippers and navigators gathered for the briefing on the final day of Panerai British Classic Week. The fleet was dispatched to the Royal Yacht Squadron combined line in a strong tide running eastwards.
Yachts circled the start in 10knots of wind and light cloud, whilst keeping a close eye on a large tanker coming down the middle of the channel. The 6 Metres set off on an upwind start with the tide towards N/E Ryde Middle, rounding the mark to starboard before a downwind run to Snowden, just off Cowes, and back upwind to N/E Ryde Middle. The final downwind leg took them back against the tide to finish on the Royal Yacht Squadron line.
The fleet start was an eventful affair with two general recalls due to too many boats over the line. Royal Yacht Squadron Chief Race Officer Dai Prichard efficiently negotiated the re-starts around a ship heading out of Southampton and an incoming Red Funnel ferry. He took a no-nonsense approach to the third start, raising the black flag to disqualify any boats over the line within one minute of the start. The extra discipline paid off and the fleet set off upwind in white horses to Wightlink with Norwich Castle in view in the background.
The fleet zigzagged its way up the Solent, crossing paths with the 6 Metres heading downwind under spinnakers. As the yachts rounded Wightlink, they bore away and hoisted spinnakers for a reach inshore towards Fastnet Insurance in glorious sunshine.
Having gybed around the mark, the fleet rode rolling white horses downwind to Deloitte Sailing Club. Spinnakers were swiftly dropped before a port mark rounding and a long beat with the tide to Browndown in the east. Keeping check of a looming container ship making its way down the channel, the fleet rounded the mark to starboard, hoisting kites as they went, to glide downwind on the tide to the Royal Yacht Squadron line to finish.
Sioma sealed her successful week on the water in the 6 Metre class with a win, followed by Thistle and Nancy. In the fleet race, line honours were taken by Spirit 52 Oui Fling, with Spirit 65 Chloe Giselle in second and Panerai British Classic Week regatta newbie Spirit DH63 Gwenhyfar in third.
Finishing in front of the iconic Royal Yacht Squadron in clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine, the fleet ended as they began the week; in true champagne sailing conditions.
Owner and skipper of 10 Tonner Cereste, Jonathan Dyke, commented, “This year’s regatta fleet has been treated to champagne sailing all week. It’s been the perfect week on the water; sparkling flat seas and the Solent at its absolute best.”
Jonathan continued, “I would like to thank Dai Prichard and all the team at the Royal Yacht Squadron for their fantastic course setting and race management.”
On corrected time, Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford secured yet another top spot in Class 1. Class 2 was won by Cetewayo and Whooper took Class 3. The hotly contested Class 4 was won by Suvretta. As the sun set on day six of the regatta, crews prepared for the final prize giving dinner and a night of partying at Cowes Yacht Haven.