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Panerai British Classic Week - Champagne sailing in the eastern Solent

by Fiona Brown on 9 Jul 2013
Panerai British Cassic Week 2013 - race start © Panerai/Guido Cantini/Sea See http://www.seasee.com/
At Panerai British Classic Week, with glorious hot sunshine and 6-10 knots from the east-north-east, competitors in the EFG International Race Day enjoyed champagne sailing for their first race of the regatta. After yesterday’s light airs frustration, the teams were delighted to get afloat and race. Race Officer Tony Lovell set his courses in the Eastern Solent giving the crews plenty of challenges as they balanced finding the best wind with keeping out of the tide.

Although conditions were generally quite sedate there were none the less a few dramas on the racecourse. Cuilaun, Brian Smullen’s McGruer ketch, and Infanta, John Hall’s Philip Rhodes designed bermudan yawl, found themselves engaged in a minor incident at a mark rounding when Cuilaun briefly ran out of wind and ended up stationery on the tide in the approach to the mark. Unfortunately Infanta was hard on her heels and had no way of avoiding them. Fortunately the contact was minor and, in the true Corinthian spirit of the regatta, they reached a gentleman’s agreement on the necessary repairs back in the bar.


The other highly entertaining drama was to be found aboard Gulvain, whose crew of Brits, Frenchmen and an Aussie clearly had something of a language barrier. Chris Mannion only purchased the boat, a Laurent Giles ocean racer, this year and pulled his crew together somewhat last minute, combing several of the previous owner’s French crew, some British friends and Neil Cusworth from Geelong in Australia. After racing Neil explained. 'We’ve had a fantastic day. Half the crew can speak English and half French and we’d never sailed together before. They were yelling at us in French and we were yelling back at them in English with none of us understanding the other. But despite it all we figured things out and sailed really well. It’s my first time at Panerai British Classic Week and my first time sailing on the Solent and it’s been fantastic.'

The fastest boat of the day went to Jonathan and Scilla Dyke’s Cereste, a Shoreham Ten Tonner designed by Robert Clarke, who completed the course in an elapsed time of 2.28.20 and won Class Four by 2 minutes 17 seconds.

Jonathan is taking such a relaxed approach to the event that he was blissfully unaware of their achievement until he checked in with the Race Office sometime after coming ashore, when his only comment was a slightly shocked 'Did we really?'. Second in Class Four was Richard Wallrock’s Beeleigh, a 1913 Fred Sheppard auxiliary cutter, with Zarik, Mark Whiteley’s Comu designed 1966 cruising ketch, third.

In Class Three victory went to Rob Grey’s Clarionet, the 1966 Sparkman and Stephens sloop famed as one of the most successful race boats of all time, who may have been newly out of the refit yard just this week, but clearly had lost none of her winning ways. Andy King’s 30 Square Metre Gluckauf, designed and built by Abeking and Rasmussen in 1929, lived up to her nick name of the Flying Toothpick by taking second with Josephine, a Philip Rhodes Bermudan sloop owned by David Messum, third.

Class Two went to Lord Cork and David Glasgow’s 1938 Tore Holm 8 Metre Athena with a comfortable margin of over six minutes on corrected time. Behind her the battle for second place was extremely close with Gildas Rostain’s Stiren, a 48’ yawl designed by Olin Stephens, beating Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia, a William Fife 7 Metre, by only 20 seconds on corrected time.

In Class One for the Modern Classics the ever-slick crew of Stephen Jones’s Meteor, designed by Stephen himself and built by Farrow-Chambers, put in an almost faultless performance to claim the top step of the podium. Michael Hough’s Chloe and Sean McMillan’s Flight of Ufford, both Spirit Yachts, completed the top three.


Post racing crews enjoyed hospitality in the Panerai Lounge and mellow blues music in the Bar Marquee as well as the EFG International Race Day prize giving where Daniel Gerber, Head of Private Banking at EFG International, presented the prizes. This evening festivities move on to the Royal Yacht Squadron for the Welcome Reception.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast promises more steady breezes from the north east of around 8-12 knots. Two races are scheduled for the Racing Divisions and there will be a cruise in company for the Rally Division, which comprises yachts who love to take part in the regatta but elect not to race. After sailing there will be an 'Open Yachts' Pontoon Party where the sailors are invited to visit each other’s yachts whilst enjoying live music and later, a hog roast. The regatta continues until Saturday 13 July with racing every day until Friday and a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron to conclude the regatta on Saturday.

British Classic Week website

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