The last day of racing at this year’s Panerai British Classic Week could not have been more exciting as the winners of all classes were announced. The Race Committee sent the yachts on an amazing course that zigzagged around the Central Solent in a moderate southwesterly wind. For some, who were in with a chance of victory, it was tense and exciting competing, while others simply enjoyed the fun of one final sail in the company of their fellow classic yacht enthusiasts.
The results went down to count back in two of the five classes. Sean McMillan’s Flight of Ufford won the last race in Class 1 by a mere nine seconds from Stephen O”Flaherty’s Soufriere with Michael Hough’s Chloe in third. Once the discard was taken into account Flight and Soufriere both ended the day on nine points. Soufriere had four wins to her name compared with Flight of Ufford’s two, making Soufriere the overall winner with Flight second and Chloe third. Despite the disappointment of loosing by such a close margin Flight of Ufford’s Sean McMillan was nonetheless a very happy man saying; “I have been racing yachts for 40 years and I have never had such an enjoyable regatta as this!”
Class 4 also came down to an extremely close finish on the water and a count back overall. In race seven Jonathan and Scilla Dyke’s Cereste beat Michael Briggs’ Mikado by forty-one seconds with Robert Veale’s Danegeld in third place. That put both Cereste and Mikado on 10 points overall and this time the count back decision went to Mikado. Third place overall went to Danegeld. “We won it by just nine seconds!” exclaimed a thrilled Michael Briggs as he came in to check the results. “We’ve done it! Hurrah! We’ve been sailing our tails off all week and it’s finally been worth it!” added Mikado crewmember Benjamin Pickersgill.
In Class 2 Esben Poulsson and Ed Dubois’ sailing yacht Firebrand took her third race win of the week, beating Jamie Mattheson’s Opposition with David Murrin’s Cetewayo third. The win cemented Firebrand’s overall victory in Class 2 by a three-point margin from Opposition, with Cetewayo third by just a single point. British Classic Yacht Club (BCYC) Commodore David Murrin was philosophical about his third place saying; “It’s been lovely to be out on the water. The racing outcome hasn’t been brilliant for us, but everything else has been fantastic.”
Going into the final race Christine and Giovanni Belgrano’s Whooper had already secured the top step of the podium in Class 3, but they sailed once again for the sheer joy of it and added an impressive seventh win to their scorecard. Sam Laidlaw and Rob Gray’s Clarionet and Andy King’s Gluckauf had gone into the day tied on points for second so the outcome of race seven and the introduction of the discard was crucial to both boats. Clarionet gave their all to take second place in the race, but Gluckauf was hard on her heels finishing third, which meant that overall it was Gluckauf second and Clarionet third.
The 8 Metre result also hung in the balance this morning as Rufus Gilday of Saskia acknowledged; “Last year we had it sewn up at this stage, but this year it’s going right down to the wire.” In race seven victory went to Christopher Courage’s Helen with Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia second and David Myatt’s Erica third. Overall Saskia won the 8 Metre Class by two points with Helen second and Athena third by a single point.
Whilst racing is an important part of the regatta, it is not the only focus and the event is as much about celebrating these beautiful historic yachts as it is about the competition. Maintaining the boats in such wonderful condition is a labour of love for the owners and crews and their role in preserving the boats, many of which have fascinating histories, is vital.
The Panerai British Classic Week Prize Giving Dinner is an opportunity to recognize both the racing victors and to present a number of very special awards, with the overall presentations being made by Amandine Rohmer of Panerai UK.
The Je Ne Sais Quoi Trophy, for the boat with that certain something special as voted for by the competitors, was awarded to James Kelman’s 1947 Henry Dervin designed cutter Croix des Gardes.
The Stiff Drink Trophy, a silver hip flask donated by Spirit Yachts, is awarded to the competitor who, in the opinion of the BCYC Committee, got into the most close shaves and therefore needs a stiff drink. This year’s winner for a number of close shaves was David Murrin’s Cetewayo, a 1955 Laurent Giles 7/8 fractional sloop.
The Lallow Cup is awarded to the best-presented new entrant and this year went to David Messum’s stunning 1939 HG May designed Berthon 8 Ton Gauntlet, Nausicaa.
There was absolutely no argument about who should win this year’s Seamanship Award donated by Classic Boat. To thunderous applause, the crew of Spirit 52 Chloe, came to the stage to receive the trophy for their outstanding feat of seamanship in recovering man overboard David Pitman in less three minutes, under sail, in very rough conditions off St Catherine’s Point during the Around the Island Race.
Each of the individual Class winners received not only their trophies but also a Panerai Plate. And finally and most importantly of all the Panerai British Classic Week Overall Trophy for the best performing yacht in the three combined fleet races (races, 2, 4 and 6), was presented to Christine and Giovanni Belgrano’s Whooper, a 1939 Laurent Giles one off sloop. Giovanni and Christine invited their entire crew to the stage to share in the adulation of their fellow sailors and to receive their prizes, which included not only the trophy but also a Panerai Instrument.
The regatta concluded with the Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green at 11.00. Panerai British Classic Week 2015 will take place from 18 to 25 July 2015.