The 2014 edition of the Panerai British Classic Week will be hosted by the Cowes Yacht Haven, running from July 12 to 19. Classic yachts from across the UK as well as Europe will once again gather to race and celebrate all that is best in classic yachting, with some 50 yachts attending this year’s tenth anniversary edition of the regatta.
The fleet is always a spectacular sight and will once again feature a host of famous sailing yachts. This year the 1903 Charles Sibbick designed yawl Thalassa will be amongst those attending the event. Thalassa, owned by Nicholas Walker, is not only one of the oldest boats entered, but also has a fascinating history. She has been raced since her launch with considerable success including 3rd overall in the 1927 Fastnet. In the early 1930s her sailing master was John Illingworth, perhaps the most famous racing sailor of his generation and widely regarded as the founder of modern ocean racing. Having spent the war safely tucked up in a mud berth in Brightlingsea, Thalassa led the post war return to ocean and RORC racing and continued to be one of the most successful boats on the racing circuit. Her crew’s approach was to give 100% commitment to every aspect of their campaigns and their reputation for hosting outstanding crew dinners and parties more than matched their fearsome reputation on the racecourse! Thalassa has been beautifully restored and her interior is largely original making her a very special yacht indeed.
The youngest boat attending will be the newly launched 74’ luxury yacht Spirit of Galatea, designed by Sean McMillan. Built by Spirit Yachts of Ipswich, Spirit of Galatea will join Panerai British Classic Week as a cruising entry, taking part in the Around The Island Race sponsored by EFG International on Monday 14 July. This stunning yacht is a wonderful example of the regatta’s “modern classic” division, which incorporates modern yachts built with the appearance of a classic. Galatea’s designer Sean McMillan, who also happens to be Panerai British Classic Week Regatta Chairman summed up his feelings about the Modern Classic Division succinctly saying; “It is the most extraordinary privilege to be able to design and build contemporary yachts that are able to participate within the fleet of the British Classic Yacht Club. To race with some of the most beautiful yachts afloat in the challenging waters of the Solent is to experience the very essence of the Classic Yacht movement”.
Another fascinating yacht to look out for will be John Porter’s Overlord, a 58’ Bermudan sloop built in 1936 by Abeking and Rasmussen for the Luftwaffe. She was part of a fleet of yachts used for training Luftwaffe navigators. In 1945 Overlord and many other yachts in the Luftwaffe fleet were taken as prizes of war at Kiel and later included in the reparations agreement. Overlord was handed over to the British Armed Forces in the guise of the Sapper Yacht Club and enjoyed a distinguished racing career between 1945 and 1955. She was purchased in 1961 by Tony Venables, who formed the Offshore Cruising Club to manage her, and she is still sailed regularly by the club’s 200 members.
Thalassa, Spirit of Galatea and Overlord will join a fleet of some 50 classic and modern classic yachts for the regatta, which runs from Saturday 12 to Saturday 19 July. There will be daily racing from Sunday 13 to Friday 18 July including the Around The Island Race sponsored by EFG International on Monday 14 July, the Ladies Race on Wednesday 16 July, a long inshore race sponsored by Classic Boat on Thursday 17 July and the Sandeman Yacht Company Race on Friday 18 July. The quality of the racing is matched by the quality of the social programme which includes Mezze at Moocow on the opening Saturday, a Welcome Reception at the Royal Yacht Squadron on Sunday, the Open Yachts Pontoon Party on Tuesday when the participants get to inspect each other’s yachts, a Crew Party and BBQ on Wednesday and the Prize Giving Dinner on Friday, as well as daily hospitality in the Panerai Lounge where cocktails will be sponsored by Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, which has been released in celebration of Mount Gay’s 311-year history. The regatta will conclude with the traditional Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green on Saturday 19 July.