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Following the launch of the Isle of Wight’s first oyster regeneration project in October last year, the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA) has now made it part of the sustainability modules on its education courses.

UKSA worked in partnership with Blue Marine Foundation and Cowes Harbour Commission to get the baskets and the initial oyster stock to Cowes in the River Medina.

The project will facilitate the release of millions of oyster larvae into the Solent, while also providing refuge for other marine wildlife including endangered European eels, young seahorses and sea bass.

With sustainability a part of its course curriculum for Maritime Foundation Year 1 for the last three years, the sail training charity has now introduced it to all of its NCFE Outdoor and Adventurous Activities courses.

As part of the module, the students will undertake work on understanding sustainability and impact on the environment as well as taking away knowledge of geographical forces that influence landscape development and explore ecosystems and the factors which influence ecology.

They will also learn about the impact of using the countryside, how to approach sustainable recreational use of the countryside and understand organisations associated with conserving the environment.

The first oysters were placed in baskets beneath UKSA’s pontoons in autumn and the students will be checking on the oysters and the cages, as well as measuring their growth.

UKSA students learn how to make a check-up on the Cowes oysters by taking measurements to track their progress, among other metrics | Credit: UKSAUKSA students learn how to make a check-up on the Cowes oysters by taking measurements to track their progress, among other metrics | Credit: UKSA

As ecosystem engineers, the oysters will provide a range of benefits to the environment and people such as improving water quality, with a single oyster able to filter up to 200 litres of water every day. They also act as a natural defence to coastal erosion.

Despite the last known oyster fishery on the Isle of Wight closing in the 1970s, between 1972 and 2006, the Solent supported the largest native oyster fishery in Europe. However, the oyster population has declined significantly and the fishery collapsed in 2013.

Native oyster reefs in the UK have declined by 95 per cent due to overfishing, pollution, disease, habitat loss and other pressures. Native oysters are classified as a priority species in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan and restoration is a high priority at a national, European and global level with an estimated 85 percent of oyster beds and reef habitats lost worldwide.

Since 2015, Blue Marine Foundation has restored over 150,000 oysters using innovative nursery systems, and creating oyster reefs has developed a strong working group in the Solent.

Similar programmes in Northern Ireland have also seen success, with the latest in Belfast Harbour showing promising results, while a new community-led initiative seeks to reintroduce them to Dublin Bay via a pilot project of ‘oyster gardens’ in Dun Laoghaire, Poolbeg and Malahide.

UKSA chief executive Ben Willows said: “The launch of the oyster regeneration project at UKSA was landmark, and it was important to us to be able to incorporate the project within UKSA as much as possible.

“A great start in making a difference in the marine environment we call home, the project is a step forward for sustainability on the island and the students having such a local reference while learning about sustainability is fantastic. The students have thoroughly enjoyed their work with the oysters so far and making their regular check-ups on the newest members to the UKSA team.”

Published in Aquaculture
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The Cowes RNLI lifeboat was kept busy during Cowes Week racing earlier this week with incidents on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday morning (31 July) the lifeboat crew were called out to two yachts involved in a violent collision, and then assisted a yachtsman knocked into the water.

In all cases the boats involved were competing in the Daring Class event.

On the first occasion one Daring collided with the hull of another, holing it. The damaged boat was eventually towed to a Cowes boatyard by a harbour launch, escorted by the lifeboat.

Then the lifeboat went back out into the Solent to assist a Daring yachtsman who was knocked into the water near the Bramble Bank, after being struck by a boom when the boat broached.

The casualty was taken by the lifeboat to Trinity Landing where he was received by the coastguard for possible onward medical treatment.

Cowes RNLI on exercise on Wednesday 2 AugustCowes RNLI on exercise on Wednesday 2 August

Cowes RNLI launched again on Tuesday (1 August), helping in two Solent incidents.

The first call-out was just after 1pm in response to a report of a man overboard from a yacht, east of Cowes Harbour’s breakwater.

The lifeboat eventually delivered the man to Trinity Landing, where island coastguards handed him over to an ambulance for onward delivery to St Mary’s Hospital in Newport.

Another emergency call followed, concerning a woman with a suspected broken wrist aboard a day-boat.

The lifeboat took the woman to Trinity Landing where a doctor member of the lifeboat station was waiting to carry out a preliminary assessment before she, too, was taken to hospital.

The lifeboat then began to tow the day-boat, with its two remaining occupants, into the harbour — where a harbour launch then took over to take the craft to a local marina.

The women of Cowes RNLIThe women of Cowes RNLI

On Wednesday (2 August) all Cowes Week racing was abandoned due to high winds for a second time, but the daily lifeboat exercises continued as planned — with one launch staffed entirely by women.

“It was great to have an all-women crew on the lifeboat, all women on shore crew, a woman as our launching authority, a woman as our plant operator and the women from the shop and visits team,” said one crew member.

Mark Southwell, station operations manager added": “As far back as 15 years ago the then-independent Cowes lifeboat already had a mixed crew, which went on transfer to the RNLI service. So, from the start we have been able to demonstrate that the lifeboat it not a men’s club — and it’s not a club at all, but a serious professional service, ready at a moment’s notice.

“Today 30 per cent of the station itself is female. There are no bars or prejudices towards anyone here. Logically that’ll be a 50/50 split one day and rightly so, thus reflecting the population of Cowes. And all lifeboats should fully represent their towns.

“I have to say that I admire anyone, man or woman, who happily tuns up and launches in such foul conditions as we have experienced today, and still has a broad smile!”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Fifty-two teams have already entered the Key Yachting J-Cup in association with B&G, hosted by the RORC in Cowes from 30 June to 2 July, with over 300 sailors taking part in what’s set to be Northern Europe’s largest meeting of J/Boats.

At least 12 examples of the range will be in action, including in the nationals for the J/70, J/111 and J/109 classes. Mixed J/Boats will race under the IRC Rating Rule divided into several classes.

“The Key Yachting J-Cup is a celebration of the J/Boats family and offers extremely good value for a truly enjoyable and memorable occasion,” said Key Yachting’s Wayne Palmer, who will also be racing his J/99 Jam — one of three J/99s in the regatta.

The RORC Clubhouse in Cowes will host the J-Cup competitors over the three days of competition | Credit: Paul WyethThe RORC Clubhouse in Cowes will host the J-Cup competitors over the three days of competition | Credit: Paul Wyeth

“The three-day regatta is a proper J/Boats get-together with sailors ranging from Olympic medallists to complete novices and everybody in between.

“With three national championships, the competition on the water will be at the highest level, but there is something for everybody at the J-Cup. We have families, veterans and youth teams racing.

Action from the 2021 J-Cup | Credit: Paul WyethAction from the 2021 J-Cup | Credit: Paul Wyeth

“A big part of the regatta is getting together after racing; Key Yachting have daily prize givings and great parties every day at the impressive RORC Clubhouse in Cowes.”

Online entry is still available for the Key Yachting J-Cup with all J/Boats welcome. For regatta information including race documents and the full schedule of racing and shoreside fun, visit

Published in J Boats & Grand Soleil
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Cowes: Sunday 22 May, 2022:  Today had a change in wind direction to an east-southeasterly that progressively strengthened to 10-11 knots, along with more glorious sunshine for the 50 teams competing at the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup. 

The Quarter Tonners enjoyed close competition, with many places changing and just 7.5 points separating the five boats in places four to eight. However, at the front of the fleet the overall lead of Sam Laidlaw’s BLT was never threatened and he won the eight-race series counting seven points, having discarded his sole second place. Victory for Julian Metherell’s Bullit in the penultimate race saw him take second overall on 13 points, while Louise Morton Bullet took third on 21 points.

The new Grand Prix Zero class was one of the three dominated by one boat, in this case Niklas Zennström’s FAST40+ Ràn, which won every race, despite being pushed hard at times by Ian Atkins’ GP42 Dark N Stormy. 

“We had great weekend, with a better forecast than expected,” says Joy Fitzgerald, a long-standing team member who runs the pit this weekend. “We thought we were coming to a light wind regatta, so to have the conditions we’ve had over the past few days has been really beneficial for us.”

Despite two disappointing results today, RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX held onto third overall on count back, having finished the regatta tied on points with Harmen Jan de Graaf’s Ker 43 Baraka Gp.

Overall winner in the Quarter Ton class - Sam Laidlaw’s BLT Photo: Paul WyethOverall winner in the Quarter Ton class - Sam Laidlaw’s BLT Photo: Paul Wyeth

Julian Metherell’s Bullit Julian Metherell’s Bullit Photo: Paul Wyeth

A third place for Louise Morton's Bullet Photo: Paul Wyeth A third place for Louise Morton's Bullet Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Success for Niklas Zennstrom's Fast40+ Rán in the newly formed Grand Prix Zero class Photo: Paul WyethSuccess for Niklas Zennstrom's Fast40+ Rán in the newly formed Grand Prix Zero class

Grand Prix Zero class start Photo: Paul WyethGrand Prix Zero class start Photo: Paul Wyeth

Enjoying the inaugural event for the new IRC Racing Class, Grand Prix Zero (GP Zero) Photo: Paul WyethEnjoying the inaugural event for the new IRC Racing Class, Grand Prix Zero (GP Zero)

In the J/109 class David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish won all but the final race, a result he was able to discard. However, the fight for second place could not have been closer, with John Smart’s Jukebox and Mike Yates’ Jago tied on 12 points at the end of the regatta. The tie break was resolved in Jukebox’s favour thanks to their win in the final race.

By contrast, the Cape 31 fleet was one of three classes that went to the wire. A win for Russell Peters’ Squirt in today’s first race left him as a strong contender against Michael Bartholomew’s Tokoloshe 4 for the overall title. 

However, Squirt had a disappointing third race, finishing eighth, while two consistent third places for Tokoloshe 4 were enough for her to take an overall win with a six point margin, while Tony Dickin’s Jubilee took third overall, a further three points adrift. For most this was a high scoring regatta, yet there were many closely-fought individual battles throughout the fleet, including three pairs of boats that finished the regatta tied on points.

“It was awesome,” says Tokoloshe 4 helm Dave Bartholomew, “brutal and stressful but fun and really, really hard work. The race management was brilliant – we were lucky with conditions, which combined with good race management to make eight absolutely amazing windward leeward races over the three days. It was hard work, with lots of position changes and lots of fun.”

J/109 class win for David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish Photo: Paul WyethJ/109 class win for David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish Photo: Paul Wyeth

John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox and Mike Yates’ Jago tied on 12 points at the end of the regatta Photo: Paul WyethJohn Smart’s J/109 Jukebox and Mike Yates’ Jago tied on 12 points at the end of the regatta Photo: Paul Wyeth

Michael Bartholomew's Tokoloshe 4 was overall winner of the 13-strong Cape 31 fleet Photo: Paul WyethMichael Bartholomew's Tokoloshe 4 was overall winner of the 13-strong Cape 31 fleet Photo: Paul Wyeth

Cape 31 Tokoloshe 4 Photo: Paul WyethCape 31 Tokoloshe 4 Photo: Paul Wyeth

Cape 31 start on the final day of racing Photo: Paul WyethCape 31 start on the final day of racing Photo: Paul Wyeth

In the HP30s Jerry Hill and Richard Faulkner’s Farr 280 Moral Compass held an overall lead at the end of each of the first two days of racing. However, Chris Townsend and Richard Powell’s Gweilo got faster and faster during the regatta, finishing with three consecutive race wins.

“We had the joy of Graham Bailey driving for us in the windy conditions on Friday,” says Powell, “when Jerry Hill’s boat handling was superb and for us sailing downwind at 16-17 knots with water cascading across the deck was spectacular.” Other team members on board include Sophie Heritage, recently returned from working with the British SailGP team in Bermuda, Ben Vines who was driving on Saturday, plus America’s Cup and SailGP chief umpire Craig Mitchell.

Powell also echoed the thoughts of many competitors in saying: “…it was marvellous to see PRO Stuart Childerley back on the water – he and Paul Jackson (who ran the second committee boat) gave us eight cracking races in three days.”

Winner of HP30 class - Chris Townsend and Richard Powell’s GweiloWinner of HP30 class - Chris Townsend and Richard Powell’s Gweilo Photo: Paul Wyeth

HP30 start action - Photo: Paul WyethHP30 start action - Photo: Paul Wyeth

The J/111 class produced some of the most intense racing, despite being one of the smaller fleets. The final results were decided in the final race, which Tony Mack’s McFly and Chris Jones / Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll started the race on five and six points respectively 

Both boats circling repeatedly in match-race style in the pre-start. Journeymaker then made the dash for the line first, followed by McFly on her windward quarter, and was first to tack onto port, heading towards the stronger favourable tide south of the Hill Head plateau. Unsurprisingly, McFly was quick to cover, but both boats were still almost neck and neck at the windward mark. They arrived at the leeward gate almost simultaneously, rounding opposite marks just three seconds apart.

However, McFly was on the advantaged side of the gate and therefore reached the stronger stream first, helping her pull ahead into a lead at the final windward mark that proved unassailable. She went on to cross the finish with an 18 second advantage at the end of a full-on 41-minute race.

For more action-packed and intensive close, short course racing, the IRC Nationals, hosted by RORC are on June 10-12, 2022.

Tony Mack’s McFly saw intense racing and overall victory in the J/111 class Tony Mack’s McFly saw intense racing and overall victory in the J/111 class Photo: Paul Wyeth

Chris Jones / Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll Chris Jones / Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll Photo: Paul Wyeth

Results here

Published in RORC

Organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race have welcomed the British Government’s easing of travel restrictions between the UK and France which come into affect hours before the race start in Cowes this Sunday 8 August.

For the crews of the 355 participating yachts in this year’s race, Britain’s downgrading of France’s COVID status to ‘amber’ from 4am on Sunday will have two welcome effects:

  • British competitors who are double vaccinated can now stop in Cherbourg at the end of the race (where there is free berthing at Port Chantereyne) and then return home to the UK at their leisure, where they will no longer be required to quarantine.
  • Due to the COVID travel restrictions, most non-British competitors previously weren’t able to touch land in the UK prior to the start of the race. However, the new rules now mean that overseas yachts can stop in the UK prior to the start, from 4am on Sunday morning, provided that their crew is double vaccinated.

Commenting on the changes, race director Chris Stone said: “The COVID restrictions relaxing in the UK comes as a great relief, even so close to start day. It is symbolic of a cross-Channel handshake, a coming together of English and French competitors in a great sports event.

“It will definitely make the race more enjoyable for the crews — overseas crews can now stop in Cowes just before the start and we are expecting a greater portion of the fleet to stop in Cherbourg.

“It means we can achieve our vision for the Cherbourg Race Village with English competitors finishing and enjoying all the festivities there, which is a key part of this event.”

As previously reported on, more than 300 yachts from 31 countries will compete in the 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, which finishes in Cherbourg for the first time in its 96 years.

For those following the race from afar, you can watch the start online at the Rolex Fastnet Race website, as well as the RORC’s channels on YouTube and Facebook.

The livestreamed Start Show, with commentary from on and off the water, begins at 10.30am BST. Expert commentators Pip Hare, Abby Ehler, Matt Sheahan, Louay Habib and Simon Vigar will talk through all the action from the start of the world’s biggest offshore yacht race, with analysis and interviews from competitors and organisers in build-up to the race.

The first warning signal is at 1100 (first start 1110) and the fleet is divided into seven groups, each starting at a different time and heading west down the Solent toward the Needles: 1110 Multihull, 1125 IMOCA 60, Class40, 1140 IRC 4, 1155 IRC 3, 1210 IRC 2, 1225 IRC 1, 1240 IRC Z.

For those fortunate enough to be in Cowes on the day, the best vantage points of the start will be along Cowes Green and Egypt Esplanade. As the fleet funnels west out of the Solent there will be lots of chances to see the yachts from Yarmouth as well.

From the mainland you can view the yachts on their outbound leg; the best places to watch are from Hurst Castle, Anvil Point, St Alban’s Head and Portland Bill.

Listen to the commentary of the race on 87.9FM locally or online at or through the speakers if you are sitting watching the spectacle from Princes Green or on The Parade in Cowes.

All yachts are fitted with a YB Tracker so you can follow an individual boat, a class or the whole fleet. The race tracker will be up on the official site closer to the start.

Published in Fastnet
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A team from Royal Cork Yacht Club made a strong showing in Cowes at the second annual Global Team Racing Regatta over the weekend.

Extreme conditions beset the 12-team fleet hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron, all racing in matched J70s that faced winds rarely less than 18 knots.

Each day saw a similar pattern of fresh breeze mounting to gale force by early afternoon resulting in racing being abandoned.

Despite this, the race management team delivered a full round robin that was fought hard to the very end, with a thrilling climax that saw St Francis Yacht Club from San Francisco awarded the title after two late errors by last year’s winners, the contingent from Royal Thames.

The Global Team Racing Regatta, of which the Royal Cork was a part in its debut last year, will move to Italy for its third edition in 2020 where it will be hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.

Final Standings

  1. St Francis Yacht Club (USA)
  2. Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR)
  3. New York Yacht Club (USA)
  4. Newport Harbor Yacht Club (USA)
  5. Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL)
  6. Dutch Match and Team Race Association
  7. Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR)
  8. Bayerischer Yacht Club (GER)
  9. Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (AUS)
  10. Yacht Club Argentino (ARG)
  11. Japanese Sailing Federation (JAP)
  12. Royal Bombay Yacht Club (IND)
Published in Royal Cork YC

Enda Kenny can add his name to the list of Irish yachting politicians as he crewed adventurer Bear Grylls’ regatta winning boat Tusk in Cowes yesterday (Thursday 8 August), as reports.

The former Taoiseach was taking part in the charity event for The King’s Cup that also saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, go head to head in competing vessels along the eight-boat fleet.

It’s not clear whether Fine Gael colleague Simon Coveney, whose family has long been a part of the Cork sailing community, gave his erstwhile boss any pointers for the event — nor whether the sailing bug has bitten him like it did the late Charlie Haughey in the 1980s.

“TuskTusk crosses the finish line with Bear Grylls at the helm to win The King’s Cup | Ian Roman/King's Cup

The King’s Cup heralds 2019’s Cowes Week, which will have a delayed start as the opening day’s racing tomorrow (Saturday 10 August) has been suspended due to the poor weather forecast.

Published in Cowes Week

#Ferry - A passenger ferry has been involved in a collision with a number of yachts amid foggy conditions in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, as RTÉ News reports.

The UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency has confirmed that no one entered the water or went missing in the incident, which occurred when the ferry was trying to berth at the entrance of the harbour just after 8am this morning (Sunday 21 October).

The Red Falcon car ferry from Southampton, which had 40 passengers on board, ran aground but has since been refloated.

Published in Ferry
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It was sun and fun all the way on day five of Panerai British Classic Week 2017 in Cowes, where not only did the participants enjoy some fiendishly tricky racing, but they also finally came together for the traditional Open Yachts Pontoon Party, sponsored by Spirit Yachts and Classic Boat, which had to be postponed from Tuesday because of torrential rain.

On the water the Solent delivered some exceptionally testing conditions as Classes 1 to 4 took part in the Long Inshore Race sponsored by Classic Boat (race six of their series) and the 6 and 8 Metres did two further round the cans races (races six and seven). Conditions were somewhat mixed with a shifty but established south easterly early on in the day. The boats went off the line to the east on a Central Solent course and made good progress until the final reach past Gurnard and along Cowes Green to the finish. By this time the wind was dying and many of the boats seriously struggled to make the line over the strongly ebbing tide. When they eventually did cross, each boat received a rousing cheer from the Squadron Platform to honour their efforts.

Back ashore the Panerai Lounge was buzzing with its usual post racing hospitality, and then at 18.30 everyone moved down onto the pontoons to view and visit the yachts, enjoy free flowing cocktails, delicious food, and live music while they talk classics and generally soak up the amazing atmosphere.

With just one more race to be sailed, a number of the classes have already been decided. In Class 1 Irvine Laidlaw’s Spirit 52 Oui Fling took second place in race six, a mere eight seconds behind Sean McMillan’s Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford with Michael Hough’s Chloe Giselle third. In the overall standings Oui Fling cannot now be beaten and Flight of Ufford is certain of second, but there will be a final race showdown for third place between David Grylls Spirit 46 Helen of Durgan and Chloe Giselle, who are only one point apart.

Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles sloop Whooper vanquished her rivals in Class 2 with a fifth win today, but whilst she is assured of victory, Gildas Rostain’s Olin Stephens One Tonner Volonte, Andrew Pearson’s 1937Johans Anker Bermudan cutter Bojar and David Murrin’s 1955 Laurent Giles sloop Cetewayo will take the battle for second and third down to the wire.

A very happy Giovanni Belgrano said of their day, “It was actually a really nice day, a beautiful day. My crew were amazing, we made massive gains through crew work. There were lots of [mark] roundings, and I think we were taking close to a minute per lap out of the boat behind us, mostly through the roundings, and that was purely crew work. I’m very, very happy”

Richard Matthews’ 1963 Stella Scorpio took another win in Class 4, securing overall victory from Simon Payne’s 1961 Nicholson Jolina Damian B, who finished second. Third in Class 4 will be decided tomorrow, as John Mulcahy’s 1963 Stella Estrella and Rufus Gilday’s 40sqm Spidsgatter Venya are tied on 24 points apiece.

Class 3 is still wide open. Michael Briggs’ 1904 Fife 30 Linear Rater Mikado won her fourth race of the regatta today, but Jonathan and Scilla Dyke’s 1938 Robert Clark 10 Tonner Cereste continues to snap at her heels, finishing second today and lying just two points behind Mikado overall. There’s then a thirteen point gap back to Scot Yeates’ 1961 Kim Holman 32 footer Stiletto, but Robert Veale’s 1958 Cheverton designed Danegeld and Tim Yetman’s West Solent One Design Suvretta are both still within striking distance of third.

For the 6 and 8 Meters it was a two race day. Robin Richardson’s 1987 Ian Howlett designed St Kitts won both of the 6 Metre races, putting her onto twenty-five points overall and firmly in striking distance of not only second placed Thistle, ownedy by Tom Richardson, on twenty-three points, but also current leader Sioma, owned by Fenton Burgin, who is on twenty points.

In the 8 Metres Murdoch McKillop’s beautiful 1931 William Fife III designed Saskia claimed both races with Christopher Courage’s 1936 Alfred Mylne designed Helen second in both. The only way in which Helen can now beat Saskia is if Saskia is unable to complete the last race for some reason, so although both boats will race tomorrow, Saskia’s victory is very nearly assured.

You meet a wonderful cross section of sailors at this regatta and amongst this year’s competitors has been Annabel Vose, a member of BAR Racing’s Junior America’s Cup winning team, who has been sailing with Sam Laidlaw aboard the 1966 Sparkman & Stephens 37 footer Clarionet. “It’s definitely a change of pace, but I’ve done the week with Rob and Sam a couple of times already, so it’s fun to be back in the fleet. It’s very different to go from 12 minute races to this one which was nearly five hours, but I’m enjoying it definitely. I’m loving it.” Said Annabel after today’s long inshore race.

Tomorrow’s final races will get underway from the Royal Yacht Squadron start line at 10.00 and the regatta will conclude with the Panerai British Classic Week Prize Giving Dinner and Dance at the Haven Events Centre.

Published in Historic Boats
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The opening race day of Panerai British Classic Boat Week 2017 was an absolute scorcher with barely a cloud in the sky and glorious sunshine showing the fifty-one participating classic yachts off to absolute perfection.

The regatta opened with a Parade of Yachts past the Royal Yacht Squadron. Each of the classes and several of the supporting classic motor yachts lined up to parade past Royal Yacht Squadron Rear Commodore Yachting Jonathan Perry who took the salute as the canons fired, much to the delight of the spectators lining Cowes Green.

Unfortunately, the wind was not quite as reliable as the sunshine and a fickle breeze and strong tide gave the navigators and tacticians a lot to think about. The first challenge was getting over the start line safely. The tide was pushing the boats onto the wrong side of the line and the light south westerly was only just sufficient for them to make way against it. Several boats found themselves over the line as the gun went and had to make the slow and painful crawl back up tide to restart correctly.

Once underway the fleet streamed west and into a developing south-westerly sea breeze. The first few legs saw them making good progress, but as they turned back towards the central Solent a competing south-easterly sea breeze tried to fill in too and the net result was a classic Mexican stand-off between the two directions. The resulting game of snakes and ladders was painful for some, but rewarding for others.

In Class 4 former International Moth World Champion Simon Payne, sailing his 1961 Nicholson designed Damian B found both a ladder and a snake, ironically noting, “We led by a country mile at the first mark, but then it all went wrong. We really need more wind.” Whilst Damian B lost out it was a pair of 1963 Kim Holman designed Stellas that showed the fleet the way. On the line Richard Matthew’s Scorpio led John Mulcahy’s Estrella, with Rufus Gilday’s Venya, a 1939 40 square metre Spidsgatter designed by Jac M Iversen, taking third.

In Class 3 Peter Robinson’s lovely Kim Holman Rummer yawl Tinkatoo, built by Stanilands & Co of Yorkshire in 1960, never put a foot wrong. Following them home for second was Tim Yetman’s 1924 West Solent One Design Suvretta, with Robert Veale’s 1958 David Cheverton sloop Danegeld third, and Michael Briggs’ Mikado, a 1904 Fife designed 30 Linear Rater and the oldest boat in the regatta, fourth.

Jonathan & Scilla Dyke’s Robert Clark 10 Tonner Cereste finished the race with high hopes of a second place in Class 3, but unfortunately they had touched two marks during the race and by the time the appropriate penalties had been applied they found themselves down in eighth instead. “I’ve never hit a mark before in my life and I’ve managed to hit two in one race!” Said the slightly embarrassed Jonathan after racing.

Guy O’Bierne, co-owner of Tinkertoo, was delighted with their win, “Today was an interesting day, we’ve not raced since last year, so we just threw ourselves together and went out to see what would happen. The day turned out quite well in the end, we thought we would be around mid-fleet finish!”
Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles sloop proved that she hasn’t lost her Class 2 winning ways by beating Lawrence Wride’s Sparkman & Stephens’ One Tonner of 1967 Sunmaid V into second place, with Gildas Rostain’s 1968 Olin Stephens One Tonner Volonte in third.

The racing in the metre boat classes was as tight as ever. In the Sixes, victory went to Charlie Hatfield’s 1946 Nicholson designed Mena with Tom Richardson’s Thistle second and Robert Owen’s Valdai third. In the Eights, Christopher Courage sailing the 1939 Alfred Milne designed Helen took the victor’s laurels from Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia, with Richard Bendy’s Osborne third.

Amongst Mena’s crew is British Double Olympic Medallist Saskia Clark who is finding the transition to big boats interesting. “I’ve retired from Olympic sailing now, and am just finding my way in the big boat world. We’re doing the 6m Worlds in Vancouver in September so this is part of our training for that. Today was our first day racing as a five, and I’m on the foredeck. We had a few little issues, things that didn’t work in terms of equipment that weren’t so smooth. With three Spanish speakers and two English speakers there’s a lot going on to get to grips with. The calmness of my Olympic 470 sailing is a distant memory now, but that’s what we’re aspiring to get to. We’re going to be calm, organised and have routines, it’s going to be good!”

Back ashore the crews took the opportunity to wind down in the sunshine as they enjoyed the post racing hospitality of the Panerai Lounge and the daily prize giving, before moving onto the Panerai British Classic Week 2017 Welcome Reception at the Royal Yacht Squadron.

Tomorrow will see the fleet take on the Around the Island Race sponsored by EFG which will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron at 08.00. For those yachts who elect not to race around the Island there will be an inshore race starting at 10am.

Published in Historic Boats
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