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Six Metre Europeans - Wind fails to make an appearance on day 2

by Fiona Brown on 23 Jul 2014
2014 Six Metre European Championship - Day 2 Fiona Brown © http://www.fionabrown.com
Sadly the wind failed to make an appearance on day two of the Six Metre European Championship in Falmouth and the twenty-seven strong fleet experienced a frustrating day of waiting in vain. Initially the Race Committee held the fleet ashore for a three-hour postponement, but by early afternoon there were signs of a sea breeze so the boats set off for the race area.

Race Officer Chris Hadden takes up the story; 'We always knew, from the advanced forecasts over the past 48 hours, that this would be a challenging day. During the mid to late afternoon there were several points at which our hopes got up that the wind was going to play, and at one point we actually managed a start, but unfortunately the wind faded. All sympathy with the competitors, who have had a frustrating day in the very light winds. Looking ahead for the next two to three days, the forecast remains for light winds. We are going to try to hold extra races on Wednesday and Thursday to get back on schedule. Fingers crossed!'

So the overall standings remain unchanged tonight with Titia leading the Classic Division on four points ahead of Gallant second on seven points and Nada third on nine points. In the Modern Division Valhalla and Blade Runner are tied for the lead on three points with Notorious lying third on 9.5 points.

Fortunately it takes a lot to keep the Six Metre sailors down and whilst the racing didn't go their way, the après sailing fun most certainly did. Back on the dock the entire fleet was invited to a very special birthday party to celebrate the 84th birthday of Matt Brooks' Classic Six Metre Lucie. Lucie was the last Six Metre designed by Clinton Crane and she is arguably his best.

She was built by Henry B Nevin's yard on City Island, New York, for the well-known American sailor Briggs Cunningham, who went on to skipper the 12 Metre Columbia to a four straight wins victory over British challenger Scepter in the 1958 America's Cup. Under Briggs' ownership Lucie represented the US three times in the British-American Trophy races, the last being in 1936 when they won the event, also in four straight races. She continued racing on the Great Lakes through the 1950s, but then went into a gentle decline.

As if often the way with Six Metre's there is a great story around how Lucie came into Matt Brooks' ownership in 2011. Matt and Jamie Hilton Sr had been racing together in Antigua Classic Week on another boat. Jamie had been invited to sail as a tactician in the 2011 Six Metre World Cup and talked the offer through with Matt on their flight home from the regatta.

Matt liked the sound of Six Metres so persuaded Jamie that they should find a boat and race the 2011 Worlds in Helsinki together instead.


So far, so good. Matt was enthusiastic. Jamie was enthusiastic. All they needed was to find a boat to charter and a crew to race with. Oh, and Matt was insistent that she must be have a wooden mast and Dacron sails and a good pedigree. Oh, and they had just three months to put the whole thing together. But as Jamie explains 'You should never tell Matt that something isn't possible.'

So the search began for a charter, but in mid-May Jamie heard about Lucie, which was about 85% of the way through a complete restoration at Brion Rieff Boat Builders in Brooklyn, Main. When she'd arrived in the yard her transom had been cut off, an outboard had been wedged into her just behind the aft cockpit, her rig was beyond all hope, her hull and deck were in a sorry way and she hadn't measured as a Six in fifty years. Her then owner had lost interest in the project and Brion was desperate to find her a new owner who would complete her refit properly.

She was the right era, she had a wooden mast (albit an unfinished blank), she had Dacron sails, and the work done by Brion and his team so far was of exceptional quality, although she still needed deck fittings, paint, varnish, and her new spar needed fully fitting out. Matt, Jamie, Brion and Lucie were the perfect partnership, so the race was on to complete the refit in time to ship her to Helsinki for the July 2011 Worlds.

Naval architect Jacob Vargish had already been involved in the refit and played an invaluable role in the completion of the project, as did craftsmen from the IYRS School of Technology and Trades, many of whom worked on the project with Brion and his team. Thirty days later and the boat was finished, complete with her new wooden rig, custom made bronze fittings and wooden blocks to ensure she looks 100% as original on deck, and a host of clever systems below deck to allow her to be raced competitively.


At this point neither Matt nor Jamie had ever sailed a Six, but they changed that on 5 June when they launched Lucie and took her for her one and only 90 minute trial sail before she was shipped to Europe on 12 June. Once in Helsinki, Lucie soon proved that she had lost none of her winning ways. Not only did she finish the World Cup as the leading Vintage Six (built to the second iteration of the rule), but she also came sixth overall in the regatta. She finished in the top six overall at the 2013 European Championship too, and then went on to be the only boat in the combined fleet to win two races in the 2013 World Cup in Flensburg and finish fifth overall. For Matt and Jamie this year's European Championship is only the fourth regatta they have ever sailed in Lucie and they are on track for a great result here too.


This evening's party, which was hosted by Matt and his wife Pam Rorke-Levey, Team Lucie and the IYRS School of Technology and Trades, celebrated not only Lucie's Birthday, but all the grand old ladies of the Six Metre fleet and the skilled craftspeople that keep them in fine fettle.

The IYRS is a world-class trade school, and it’s School of Boatbuilding and Restoration, based in Rhode Island, specialises in teaching tehnical and craft-oriented marine trades. Many graduates, faculty members and affiliates participated in the restoration of Lucie in some way and both Matt and Jamie are members of the IYRS board. They are hugely supportive of the invaluable work the organisation does in training craftsmen in the skills needed to maintain historic yachts like Lucie, and they are rightly proud of the fact that 95% of the school's pupils have secured full time jobs by the time they graduate.


The party also celebrated the bounteous wonders of our host county Cornwall, with live music by local Cornish musicians and cocktails made using Knightor sparkling wine, Tarquin's Dry Gin, Elemental Cornish Gin and Cornish Orchards Elderflower Presse and Apple Juice. The food was also entirely Cornish grown/reared/produced and featured delicious canapés and of course traditional Cornish Pasties!


And so the sun set on day two of a regatta where a frustrating day's sailing could be immediately forgotten in the enjoyment of the camaraderie of fellow Six Metre sailors and the wonderful boats they race.

Hopefully day three will bring better winds and the Race Committee will be able to run all three of the planned races. The racing is currently scheduled to continue until Thursday 24 July, however Friday 25 July is a reserve day on which racing can be run if less than eight races have been completed by Thursday night.
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