It was a bright and early start for competitors on day two of Panerai British Classic Week ahead of the 30nm NAB Tower* race. With 12knots of true wind from the north east, it was a prompt 8am fleet start on the RYS inner line for Classes 1-4 as the yachts set off towards the iconic Horse Sand and No Mans Land Forts.
The opening leg saw the fleet riding white horses upwind with the easterly-running tide towards the first mark (Winner). Crews could be spotted decked out in wet weather gear as they lined the capping rails on a wet and windy ride out to the forts. With the wind shifting from the north round to the east and back again, competitors were kept on their toes as they sailed between the forts and out towards Winner. Rounding Winner to starboard, there was a mixture of strategies as some yachts went for a spinnaker hoist, others a code zero and a few sticking with white sails on the tight reach towards the NAB Tower.
Rounding the tower to starboard, the fleet gybed back towards the Solent on a downwind leg towards Darling Associates Architects. The conflicting currents at the NAB Tower proved favourable for the front-runners, but less so for the slower classes, which slowed their pace before they sailed into the channel of the Solent and the westerly running tide.
Wind shifts certainly were the order of the day and close attention had to be paid to the constantly changing breeze and the strong tidal currents. By the time the leading yachts bore away to round Darling Associates Architects to port, there were intermittent pockets of 3-4knots of light breeze swinging between the north and east.
Whilst they missed out on favourable tide around the NAB Tower, the second half of the fleet benefitted from a stronger breeze as they glided down the Solent towards the finish.
BCYC Commodore and owner of Robert Clarke 10 Tonner Cereste, Jonathan Dyke, commented, “We had a lovely first leg and laid the forts in a single tack. Rounding Winner, we hoisted the asymmetric and kept the headsail to gain advantage in the shifting wind and cross running tide. The conditions ended up light and flukey, with big holes of no wind in some places, but we had a glorious spinnaker reach back. Another great day on the Solent!”
Negotiating 2.5knots of fair tide carefully to ensure they didn’t overshoot the wrong side of the line, the fleet headed to Snowden and a shortened course, committee-boat finish line in sunshine and blue skies.
The latter yachts in Class 4 unfortunately fell victim to the tide, which had turned against them by the time they sailed the home straight to the finish. The last yachts putting in a valiant effort and crossing the line just before 6pm.
Spirit 52 Oui Fling led the fleet from the off and comfortably took line honours, followed by Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford and Class 2 IYRU 10m yacht Anteren, who sailed had a fantastic race, third over the line.
On corrected time, Oui Fling won Class 1 with Spirit 46s Helen Durgan in second and Whisper of Lymington in third. Class 2 was won by Anteren, followed by Cetewayo and Firebrand. Fife Gaff Cutter Viola continued her winning streak and took Class 3, with Mikado in second and Volonté in third. Jonathan Dyke’s Cereste won Class 4, with Zaleda in second and Stella Timoa in third.
Overall, the NAB Tower race was won with a margin of five minutes by Viola, with the Germany-based 8mR Anne Sophie in second and Anteren third.
The 8mR class opted to sail two round the cans races in the Solent instead of the longer NAB Tower course, joining the 6mRs, who raced a single round the cans course. The two classes enjoyed some fast-paced racing first thing in the morning, followed by some lighter wind and sunshine towards lunchtime.
Carron II had a fantastic day on the water, winning both 8mR races. Athena took second in the first race, followed by Falcon in third. In the second 8mR race, Saskia came in second and Helen third. In the 6mRs, Melita came in first, followed by Sioma and Thistle, with Bravade taking the top spot in modern 6mR class.
Tomorrow brings race three and class starts at 11am followed by the annual Open Yachts Pontoon Party sponsored by Spirit Yachts and Classic Boat.
*An imposing 27m tall x 12m wide steel and concrete cylinder, the historic NAB Tower was built off the east coast of the Isle Wight in 1918 to help protect the south coast from German submarines during World War One.