Panerai British Classic Week - Caressed with sunshine and balmy breeze

Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge 2014, British Classic Week 2014 - Mikado and Clarionet
Panerai / Guido Cantini /
'25 Miles of sheer heaven.' Is how David Orton, owner of the 1963 Illingworth and Primrose designed forty footer St David’s Light, described today’s Panerai British Classic Week Long Inshore race sponsored by Classic Boat in association with Wight Vodka. The week has been blessed with truly outstanding weather and today the fleet was once again caressed with hot sunshine and balmy breezes.

At the 08.30 daily briefing the Race Committee had announced a postponement until 12 noon to allow the wind to stabilise, and their timing was spot on with the massed fleet getting underway for race six of the series on time with just a few individual recalls. The whole fleet sailed the same course, which took the yachts out into the Eastern Solent for 25 miles of champagne sailing in a lovely 8-12 knot southeasterly breeze.

Results for both the individual classes and the massed fleet are given for today’s race. In the massed fleet the race winner was Stephen O’Flaherty’s Spirit 54 Soufriere, one of the newest yachts in the regatta, which beat Michael Briggs’ 1904 Fife designed Clyde Linear 30 Rater Mikado, one of the oldest boats in the regatta, by 95 seconds. Third place went to Christine and Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles Sloop Whooper with Gluckauf, Andy King’s Rasmussen 30 Square Metre of 1937 fourth.

In the individual class results Soufriere was victorious in Class 1 for the Modern Classics, beating Sean McMillan’s Flight of Ufford and Sandy Fielding’s Strega. With one race left to sail Flight of Ufford now leads Class 1 by a single point from Soufriere, who has a safe ten-point cushion on Michael Hough’s Chloe with Sandy Fielding’s Strega one further point adrift in fourth. Clearly all is still wide-open for this class going into tomorrow’s final race.

As well as finishing second in the combined race, Mikado also won Class 4 where she got the upper hand over Jonathan and Scilla Dyke’s Cereste and Bill Hogg’s Zaleda. Currently Mikado has a fourteen point overall lead on Cereste in the Class 4 standings; however, once the discard comes into play after tomorrow’s race Cereste will be looking to discard a seventeenth, whilst Mikado’s worst result is a fourth. Provided Mikado finishes in first or second she will claim the regatta but clearly Cereste will do everything she can to ensure she finishes first with Mikado no better than third. The fight for the final podium step in this class is also very tight. N Thompson’s Zahir currently holds third place on forty-four point, with Robert Veale’s Danegeld on forty-five points, David Messum’s Nausicca on forty-eight and David Foster and Ben Gillett’s Leopard on forty nine.

Whooper’s win in Class 3 was her sixth of the regatta and she cannot be beaten tomorrow. In today’s race Andy King’s Gluckauf took second place and Sam Laidlaw and Rob Gray’s Clarionet took third, setting them up for a lovely final day showdown for the Class 3 silver and bronze medals. Clarionet currently has the upper hand with a four-point lead over Gluckauf.

In Class 2 Ebsen Poulsson and Ed Dubois’ Firebrand took her second victory of the regatta with David Murrin’s Cetewayo second and Jamie Matheson’s Opposition third. Overall Firebrand now has Class 2 in the bag with eleven points, but Cetewayo and Opposition go into the final day tied on twenty four points so we have another close finish to look forward to here.

The result of the 8 Metre class was not decided until two protest committee hearings had been completed. Both Helen and Saskia were called OCS on the start line and both insisted they had returned across the line correctly. The protest committee found that Saskia had started correctly but Helen had not – a huge disappointment to Helen’s owner Christopher Courage and his crew who would otherwise have won the race. In reality David Myatt’s Erica claimed her first win of the series with Saskia, owned by Murchoch McKillop, second and Athena, owned by Lord Cork and David Glasgow, third. Going into the final day Saskia leads the 8 Metre Class overall with 13 points, two points ahead of Athena and five points clear of Helen, so another exciting show down is in prospect.

Tomorrow race seven will be sponsored by Sandeman Yacht Company and is scheduled to start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line at Noon. After racing the teams will enjoy the Prize Giving Dinner at Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre where the class prizes will be awarded and the overall winner of Panerai British Classic Week 2014 will be declared.

The regatta will conclude on Saturday 19 July with a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green at 11.00.

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