Classics on Parade in the Solent

The 2016 Panerai British Classic Week is underway, and the classics were out in force on the Solent, displaying their beauty in the inaugural Parade of Yachts.

Panerai British Classic Week 2016

British Classic Week 2016 Ph: Guido Cantini / Panerai / SeaSee.com

Panerai British Classic Week 2016Guido Cantini / Panerai

The opening day of Panerai British Classic Week 2016 featured a spectacular Parade of Yachts in which Jonathan Perry, Rear Commodore Yachting of the Royal Yacht Squadron, took the salute as the yachts streamed past the Royal Yacht Squadron. The programme required the yachts to form up in their classes and motor in line past the Squadron, which almost all of the 61 entries did. The only exception was the nine metre gaff yawl Cormorant, who at 105-years young and in “as original” condition does not have an engine so took part under sail.

With the Parade over it was down to the serious business of yacht racing and Royal Yacht Squadron Racing sent the fleet off down tide into the Western Solent for a lovely round the cans race in a west-south-westerly which gradually built from around 6 to just over 10 knots.

First off the line were the International 6 Metres. Robin Richardson's Modern 6 St Kitts, which was built by the Elephant Boatyard to an Ian Howlett design and won the Seawanhaka 6 Metre World Cup on her first outing in 1987, is still regarded as one of the fastest Sixes in the World and lived up to that reputation by winning her class by nine minutes from Thistle, the 1947 David Boyd designed Classic built by Alex Robertson on the Gareloch and owned by Tom Richardson, owner of the Elephant Boat Yard. Third place went to Jonathan Brech's Maida.

Murdoch McKillop's 1931 William Fife designed Saskia, which represented Britain in the 1936 Kiel Olympics, got a terrific start in the 8 Metre Class and went on to win by over four minutes from David Myatt's 1949 Bjarne Aas designed Erica, which won the Sayonara Cup in 1953. Peter Wilson's 1929 built If took third place.

It was a case of David v Goliath in Class 1 for the Modern Classics, where the diminutive Strega, a Spirit 37, showed the way to win by over two minutes from Sean McMillan's Flight of Ufford with David Grylls' Helen of Durgan third. Back ashore Sandy Fielding, who co-owns Strega with Martin Whittle, was delighted with their result. "We had a great day. Usually the bigger Spirits get away from us, but for once the tidal gates worked in our favour, so much so that we didn't want it to end."

Giovanni Belgrano's 1939 Laurent Giles designed sloop Whooper won this event overall in 2014 and declared her intentions for this week by winning Class 2's opening race from Gildas Rostain's Volonte, a 1968 RORC One-Ton Sloop designed by Olin Stephens. Third place went to Lawrence Wride's 1967 Sparkman & Stephens RORC One-Tonner Sunmaid V, whose various claims to fame include being the yacht on which the legendary Owen Parker developed twin pole gybing.

Panerai British Classic Week 2016

British Classic Week 2016 Ph: Guido Cantini / Panerai / SeaSee.com

Panerai British Classic Week 2016Guido Cantini / Panerai

Michael Briggs' 1904 William Fife cutter Mikado sailed exceptionally well to win Class 3 by over four minutes from Andrew and Mary Hales 1950 eight Metre cruiser/racer Freyja, with Martin Thomas' Charm of Rhu third. Class 3 also includes a special race within a race featuring three matched 1959 Morgan Giles Bermudan sloops, Leopard, Pegasus and Gryphis, which have been chartered for the event by The Classic Yacht Association of Australia (Leopard and Pegasus) and the Classic Yacht Association of New Zealand (Gryphis). Today Leopard finished fourth in class to lead their group with Pegasus fifth and Gryphis eighth – a very good performance from three crews who had never even seen their boats before this regatta.

In Class 4 the two smallest boats in the fleet, Liz and Mark Rushall's Ragdoll, a 1950 Balfour designed Honey Bee, and John Mulcahy's Estrella, a lovely example of one of Kim Holman's Stella Class, both got terrific starts with Ragdoll leading the fleet off down the Solent. Both sailed well but ultimately they struggled to save their time in the light conditions with Ragdoll finishing fifth and Estrella third. Victory went to Jonathan & Scilla Dyke's pretty 1938 Robert Clark 10 Tonner, with Robert Veale's 1958 David Cheverton Bermudan Sloop Danegeld second.

Tomorrow’s racing is sponsored by EFG and the original schedule was for the Around The Island Race to start at 08.00, however the forecast is for very light winds making this impractical. Instead racing will not begin before 13.00 with the Race Committee planning a long Solent race instead. Looking ahead the forecast for the rest of the week is not conducive to running the Around The Island on an alternate day, so that race will not take place this year and is replaced by tomorrow’s Solent race.