A long inshore race was the order of day five at Panerai British Classic Week with the fleet enjoying a massed start off Cowes followed by a 27 mile course that took them as far west as East Leap and as far east as North Stourbridge, with plenty of bumps and circuits in between. This fifth race in the series was a tough one with a very shifty breeze ranging from sub-five to over twelve knots. Mix in some tricky tidal conditions and it all added up to a tough but wonderfully sunny day on the water.
Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia was boat of the day in every sense winning both Class Two and claiming victory in the overall race where she beat Sean McMillan’s Flight of Ufford. Lord Cork and David Glasgow’s Athena came third and Robert Veale’s Danegeld fourth. With the entire fleet coming together for the first time there was some interesting new battles developing. Perhaps the closest of these was between David Orton’s St David’s Light and Jonathan Dyke’s Cereste who tied on corrected time and shared tenth place.
In Class Two Saskia won her race by an impressive ten-minute margin over Athena with David Murrin’s Cetewayo in third. As a result Saskia, a 1931 William Fife 8 Metre, now leads the class by two points from Athena with Cetewayo in third but sharing equal points with Gildas Rostain’s Stiren in fourth. Only four points separate the top four overall so we can expect a very exciting conclusion to the regatta tomorrow.
Flight of Ufford claimed victory amongst the modern classics of Class One while Michael Hough’s Chloë and Sandy Fielding & Martin Whittle’s Strega fought it out for second place. Although Chloë finished well ahead on the water, on corrected time she claimed second place by just 16 seconds. Stephen Jones and his crew aboard Meteor started their day off in flying style, but an injury to Stephen’s knee forced them to throttle back and as a result they finished in last place. This drops Meteor down the overall standings into second place in class, with Flight of Ufford taking the lead by just one point and Chloë third overall, four points behind the leader.
Sam Laidlaw and Rob Gray’s Clarionet continued her winning streak in Class Three and once again beat Gluckauf with David Orton’s St David’s Light third. Clarionet now leads the class by four points from Gluckauf with Martin Thomas’s Charm of Rhu eight points behind in third.
In Class Four Robert Veale’s David Cheverton Sloop Danegeld beat Jonathan and Scilla Dyke’s Cereste with Ricard Wallrock’s Beeleigh third. Jonanthan Dyke summed up the day’s very challenging conditions succinctly as “Perplexing.” He went on to give a perfect example of how easily positions could change within a leg saying, “When we came around Prince Consort there was ourselves, Cetewayo, Glucklauf and Clarionet almost side by side and we battled for half an hour to get across to East Bramble in very light airs, and blow me down the wind came in from behind and the boats astern of us laid straight from Prince Consort to East Bramble, so the half hour we’d spent tacking back and forth was completely wasted as the other boats just sailed right round us!”. In the overall standings Cereste leads the class by a single point from Beeleigh with Danegeld third. Richard Wallrock is clearly quietly proud of their performance this week saying, “For an old banger like Beeleigh we manage to keep trucking round the course.”
The post racing hospitality in the Panerai Lounge was as generous as ever with wonderful canapés and delicious wines being served to the hungry but happy sailors. The daily prize giving not only honoured the day’s winners but also paid tribute to regatta organiser Mary Scott-Jackson of MSJ Events who celebrated her birthday with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday sung by the entire fleet.
One final race remains to be sailed tomorrow with the discard coming into play once it is completed. The forecast is for further moderate winds and sunshine from the eastern quadrant so we can look forward to a spectacular finish to what has already been an outstanding regatta. The event concludes on Saturday with a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron at 11.00.