With five races now concluded, the rankings are tightening up at the currently running Panerai British Classic Week 2014. Day four of the regatta saw one class race as well as the traditional Ladies Race, which demonstrated to be just as exciting as the class races.
The day started hot and sunny but almost windless so a postponement was announced and the fleet was held ashore until noon, giving plenty of time for everyone to enjoy the fabulous hospitality of the Panerai Lounge. By the time the fleet got to the start area the wind was already building to around 10 knots and Race Officer John Grandy sent the classes running to the east for a good romp around the Central Solent.
Once again the battle for supremacy in Class 1 was fierce. Today, Ireland’s Stephen O’Flaherty and his crew aboard Soufriere got the upper hand, beating Sean McMillan’s Flight of Ufford with Chloe, owned by Michael Hough, in third. Soufriere’s win today closes up the overall rankings in the class nicely with Flight of Ufford still leading with eight points, Soufriere just two points behind in second and Chloe third on fourteen points. With two more races to go, no boat counting worse than a fourth and no discard until all seven races have been sailed, all is still to be decided.
In Class 2 Jamie Matheson’s Opposition had another great day winning by a narrow 54-second margin from sailing yacht Firebrand with David Murrin’s Cetewayo 40 seconds behind in third. Overall, Firebrand currently has an impressive eleven-point lead with her worst score being a third, while Opposition is second on 21 points and Cetewayo third on 22 points. However, Opposition and Cetewayo are both counting a 14th place so Firebrand’s lead could dissolve when the discard kicks in after the final race.
Christine and Giovanni Belgrano’s Whooper was the race five victor in Class 3 beating Sam Laidlaw and Rob Gray’s Clarionet by just under two minutes with Andy King’s Gluckauf third. Whooper’s five straight wins give her an almost unassailable lead in Class 3 going in to the final two races, but with Clarionet and Gluckauf only separated by five points and Martin Thomas’ Charm of Rhu just five further points behind in fourth, the remaining steps of the podium are still wide open.
In Class 4 David Foster and Ben Gillett’s Leopard took her first victor’s laurels of the regatta, beating Jonathan and Cilla Dyke’s Cereste by just over a minute. Third place went to Bob Gatehouse and his crew aboard Erida. In the overall standings Mikado continues to lead Class 4 and now has a thirteen point lead over Cereste who moves up a place into second, jumping over David Messum’s Nausicca which is now nine points back in third.
Today Christopher Courage’s Helen took her third victory of the regatta in the 8 Metre Class, beating Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia with Athena, owned by Lord Cork and David Glasgow, third. The overall standings in the 8 Metre Class are incredibly close with Saskia leading on eleven points, and Helen and Athena both counting thirteen points with Helen taking second place on count back.
Twenty two boats came to the line for the Ladies Race, which was run on a short triangular course to the east of Cowes. From a running start the fleet remained closely bunched all the way to the finish. It was so close that the top four boats were separated by only a minute and a half on corrected time. Victory went to Rosie Parks helming Whooper with Jodie Warner helming Cereste second, Annabel Vose helming Clarionet third and Louise Morton helming Cetewayo fourth. After racing we asked Rosie for the secret to her success and she was both hilarious and modest in her response saying “I got on the right boat with the right people! It was a fantastic day!” laughingly pointing to Giovanni Belgrano, his wife Christine and the rest of her crew. Louise Morton was also fulsome in praising her hosts saying, “It was a lovely invitation to sail such a beautiful boat. She is wonderfully balanced and a joy to sail. I loved every minute of it.”
This evening the crews are attending a BBQ and Crew Party at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club with live music and dancing. Tomorrow the fleet will enjoy the Long Inshore Race sponsored by Classic Boat in association with Wight Vodka starting at 10.30.
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.