Day two of the currently running Panerai British Classic Week in UK’s Cowes was marked by the Around the Island Race for Classes 1 to 4, sponsored by EFG International. In addition, there was a further Solent race for the 8 Metres.
For those going around the Island it was a day of mixed conditions. The start from the Royal Yacht Squadron was to the east with a strong flood tide pushing the fleet across the line, but very little wind. The boats held their positions using engines until the last moment and the majority aimed to be as far offshore as possible for maximum tidal advantage. For some the tactic was a success, but others found themselves drifting the wrong side of the outer distance mark and unable to return and start correctly.
For those who started correctly, the sail out of the Solent was a slow affair, but as they passed Bembridge the sea breeze began to build and before long they were rail-down beating across Sandown Bay in glorious sun, big seas and 20 knots from the southwest.
Michael Hough’s Spirit 52 Chloe had a brief drama on their way to St Catherine’s Point when crew member Dave Pittman was washed over the side by a big wave. Fortunately the crew train regularly for just such an eventuality and they immediately gybed back, dropped the headsail and within three minutes a relieved Dave was back on board and changing into dry gear. After racing Dave joked that “All that man overboard training finally paid off!”
Line Honours went to Sean McMillan’s Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford with an elapsed time of 9 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds. Stephen O’Flaherty’s Spirit 54 Soufriere was hard on her heels with Chloe crossing third despite her man overboard drill. The first true classic to finish was Christine and Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles sloop Whooper in fourth and Ebsen Poulsson and Ed Dubois’ 1965 Sparkman and Stephen’s designed sailing yacht Firebrand was fifth home.
Whilst the big boats had their moment in the line honours, it was actually a day for the small boats once the handicaps were applied thanks to a favourable tidal gate at the Needles. Nausicaa, the delightful 1939 Berthon 8 Ton Gauntlet owned by David Messum, led the giant killing with a corrected time of 8 hours 57 minutes and 51 seconds, beating second placed Whooper by 7 minutes and 32 seconds. Cereste, Jonathan and Scilla Dyke’s 1938 Shoreham Ten Tonner was third, Sir Michael Briggs’ 1904 Fife 30 Rater Mikado took fourth and Bill Hogg’s 1966 McGruer 7 Meter cruiser racer Zaleda was fifth.
The individual class winners were Flight of Ufford in Class 1, Firebrand in Class 2, Whooper in Class 3, and Nausicaa in Class 4. The 8 Metres raced inshore but the strong winds saw several gear failures and as a result only two boats finished, with Lord Cork and David Glasgow’s Athena beating Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia.
Tomorrow two Solent races are planned for all classes with a first start at 10.00. Après sailing the competitors will enjoy the Open Yachts Pontoon Party, allowing participants to view each other yachts whilst listening to live music and enjoying refreshments sponsored by BCYC, Classic Boat and Wight Vodka.
Racing continues until Friday 18 July and the event will conclude with a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green at 11.00 on Saturday 19 July.