by Phil Riley
Royal Southern Yacht Club July Regatta 2014 - Hamble, Hampshire, UK: The largest turnout for a Royal Southern Yacht Club July regatta since 2008 ensured that the 2014 Champagne Joseph Perrier supported event delivered competitive sailing of the highest order to the 73-strong racing fleet.
Lass (80) leads the XOD fleet competing in the Central Solent Championships.
Numbers were enhanced by the fact that the July Regatta formed part of the on-going season-long IRC Solent Series and also encompassed the XOD Solent Championships, with no fewer than 16 of the venerable yachts taking part. However, the strong turnout is, almost certainly, indicative that the Club's determined efforts to attract more entries through ongoing feedback and class captain liaison continues to show a rise in entries.
Overall the wind co-operated over the two days, though it defied forecasts early on Sunday leading to the first race of the day having to be abandoned when the breeze disappeared.
The weekend saw a strong turnout in the evolving and growing National Handicap for Cruisers class, and featured one of the regatta's closest competitions for overall honours. Rob Bottomley's First 40 Sailplane pipped Graham Nixon's Elan 40 Magic by two points, both with a win and podium finish to their credit in the six-strong fleet.
The other win in the three-race series went to Malaika, who unfortunately put themselves out of contention when they hooked the black line committee boat's anchor chain at the start of race two.
Winner Rob Bottomley was delighted with the regatta:
'It's been absolutely superb. I think the Royal Southern has got it just right in getting people on the water and the handicapping system is fair.
'I did a lot of JOG racing in the late 70s and 80s but took up gliding when we had kids. I came back to sailing when they were a bit older and a lot of people I sail with today were those I raced against in the 70s and 80s, so this cruiser division had got us all together again.
'I've been coming down here since the 70s and the Royal Southern is a fantastic club, it's my second home.'
It was close too in the XOD fleet with Richard Bullock and Richard Jordan's two wins in Lass giving them a two point margin over Roger Yeoman's Merlin, which was in turn two ahead of David Palmer's Princess Jalina.
The XOD fleet also experienced a potentially serious incident when Hamish Wilson was knocked overboard unconscious during Saturday's third race. However, prompt and decisive action by fellow competitor Mos FitzGerald, who went into the water from another XOD to support Hamish, and the white line RIB crew Dick Long and Stephen Hughes, saw Hamish quickly evacuated ashore via the inshore lifeboat. They, along with race officer Nick Hollamby who coordinated the rescue with the Coastguard, were thanked at the prize-giving for their rapid and effective response.
Steph Merry was another competitor who required treatment on Saturday after being clipped by her 1720's boom, but thankfully her scalp injury proved superficial and she was successfully racing again the following day.
Vying for largest class honours with the XODs was the 16-strong IRC1 which included a sub-class of six J/111s who, along with the other J classes, were tuning up for the Royal Southern-hosted J-Cup at the end of the month.
Bragging rights went to Duncan McDonald's Shmokin Joe ahead of Cornel Riklin's Jitterbug and Tony Mack's McFly. Overall in IRC1, however, Shmokin Joe had to give best to Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II and Peter Morton's Salvo.
In the other J-boat classes' victory went to Iain McKinnon's Tigh Soluis (J/109), Jack Davies' Jugador (J/70) and Brian Denney's Jalapeno (J/80).
Meanwhile in IRC2, regatta regulars Robbie and Lis Robinson took top spot in their First 35 Hot Rats, posting a 2-2-1 scoreline, with Robbie paying tribute to his young crew.
'It was a case of staying with the competition as most of them rated higher than us, so if we could get within reach of them we were going to do well, and so it turned out.
'We've got a really good young and agile crew who worked really hard - the crew work was excellent. There was a time when you were content to come fourth or fifth and be pleased with that, but now if you are worse than third we wonder what went wrong. It's nice that everything is getting better and better in terms of the quality of our racing. Being in the top three always means that you are racing well.'
Good crew-work also secured victory for John Allen's Antix in IRC3, with the widely-travelled Whitby-based X302 enjoying another Club regatta.
'When we first came to the south coast it was the Royal Southern regattas that we set out to do,' said John. 'The race organisation is second to none and there is always good competition, considering the Royal Southern puts on a regatta every month.
'We've got a really enthusiastic crew which is great as it eggs us on to do more - it's a virtuous circle. This is our last regatta in The Solent this year, so it's a great way to sign off.'
Toby Gorman's Stan The Boat took three wins on the way to a dominant win in IRC4, as did Tom Clay's Whyaduck in the SB20s.
Overall results for the Cruiser Class, Black Line, White Line, J/111s and XODs are posted on the Royal Southern's website.
The Royal Southern's Summer Series continues with the Gaastra Pro Gear BV August Regatta 30th-31st August.