Racing at Panerai British Classic Week 2013 came to a spectacular close in Cowes with yet another day of sun drenched sailing and a sixth and final race, sponsored by Sandeman Yacht Company, for the 44-strong fleet. It’s been a quite stunning week combining great weather, superb racing afloat, outstanding hospitality ashore and a unique sense of camaraderie and fun.
As the boats arrived in the race area the breeze died briefly, but then veered to the south-east and filled in at just under 10 knots. Once again it was a tricky Central Solent race with patchy and shifty winds, particularly up on the mainland shore. With a strong ebb tide building, judging lay lines became critical and there were more than a few boats who found themselves forced to put in an extra tacks to squeeze around a mark.
Class One for the modern classics saw Brian Scowcroft’s Phantom take her second race win of the series, beating Stephen Jones’ Meteor by just 27 seconds on corrected time after nearly four hours of racing, while third place went to Michael Hough’s Chloë. With the discard now coming into play Phantom’s win jumped her up the leaderboard into third place in class, just three points behind Sean McMillan’s Flight of Ufford. Class One overall victory went to Meteor, whose crew paid tribute to both the boat and to Stephen, who had carried on racing despite painfully wrenching his knee during yesterday’s race.
In Class Four Robert Veale’s Danegeld claimed her third race win, beating Cereste, owned by Jonathan and Scilla Dyke, with Mark Whiteley’s Zarik third. In the overall class standings it was Cereste who was victorious with Danegeld second and Richard Wallrock’s Beeleigh third.
Andy King’s Gluckauf finally managed to snatch a race from Sam Laidlaw and Rob Gray’s Clarionet in Class Three, beating them by a handsome margin of almost 9 minutes, and David Messum’s Josephine took third. For Clarionet, today’s second place was a discard so they end the series counting an impressive five straight firsts. Gluckauf took the second step on the Class Three podium with Martin Thomas’ Charm of Rhu completing the line up.
Displaying remarkable speed and judgement Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia put in a stellar final performance to win her last race by almost 13 minutes, the biggest winning margin of the day. Lord Cork and David Glasgow’s Athena finished second with David Murrin’s Cetewayo in third. In the series results Saskia beat Athena by three points with Cetewayo in third.
Special mention today must go to Blue Eagle and Hatty, the two smallest boats in the regatta, who have frequently struggled to keep up with their big sisters in this year’s light airs. Blue Eagle is a 1964 Kroes en Zonen bermudan sloop built by AN Milnes and owned by renowned artist and illustrator Michael Frith, whilst Hatty is a 1963 Top Hat racer/cruiser designed by Captain John Illingworth, built by Souters of Cowes and owned by Nick Hughes. Both boats found themselves retiring from more races than they finished, but it was clear that their crews were having the time of their lives, always smiling and enjoying the wonderful ambiance of this very special regatta.
Speaking after racing British Classic Yacht Club Rear Commodore David Orton was delighted with how this year’s regatta has gone, commenting, “The weather exceeded all my expectations and I was this year surprised by the high standard of sailing. Seeing Britain’s yachting history sailed by real enthusiasts is a wonderfully uplifting experience. It’s been huge fun but I am now totally worn out and require three days in bed!”
At the final prize giving gala dinner the assembled fleet paid tribute to its class winners as they received their trophies, but the biggest applause of all was saved for the special fun prizes and the presentation of the overall winner, whose name is kept secret until the last moment.
The Je Ne Sais Quoi prizes, which are awarded to the boat in each class which, in the opinion of their fellow competitors, has that “certain something”, went to Cereste in Class 4, Gluckauf in Class 3, Stiren in Class 2, Flight of Ufford in Class 1 and Zoom in the Cruising Division with Saskia being named overall winner.
The Lallow Cup for the best presented new entrant was won by Iain Pickard’s 37’ Illingworth sloop Chamois. The Brian Keelan Memorial Trophy for the highest placed gaffer went to Beeleigh and the Moonbeam Trophy, for the overall winner of the long inshore race was presented to Saskia. Saskia also claimed the Universal 8 Cup and the International Metre Trophy, which are presented to the top performing 8 Metre and the most successful boat built to the Metre rules respectively.
Seven year old Horatio Murrin, who raced everyday aboard father David’s Cetewayo, was awarded a special trophy for the youngest participant this week. Horatio has been eagerly watching the daily prize presentations each evening and he could hardly contain his excitement at finally being called up to receive his very own trophy.
But the loudest cheer of the night was saved for the presentation of the British Classic Yacht Club Racing Trophy and a Panerai Watch to the overall winner of Panerai British Classic Week, which this year goes to Murdoch McKillop’s stunning 1931 William Fife classic 8 Metre Saskia. On accepting his prize Murdoch McKillop spoke on behalf of the competitors to thank the organisers of the event, the race officers, Panerai, EFG International and the other sponsors, and the weather gods for making this such a fantastic week. He concluded saying, “I’d like to thank everybody involved in Project Saskia. From Scott Comben who has put it all together, to Gilmour [Manuel] who was the helmsman, who was very disappointed not to win the youngest person in the regatta prize, and to everybody who made it possible. And we really are delighted that we’ve managed to bring a truly classic Scottish yacht back into full fettle, so thank you very much everybody.”
The regatta concludes tomorrow with a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron at 11.00, which will be taken by Commodore Michael Campbell, after which the yachts will disburse once again to their homeports. Panerai British Classic Week 2014 will take place from 12 to 19 July and will once again be held in Cowes.