Panerai British Classic Week
Day 4: Ladies Day at Panerai British Classic Week

Published 18th July 2018

Yet another stunning day on the Solent as Royal Yacht Squadron Chief Racer Officer Dai Prichard kicked off proceedings with the briefing at 9.30am. Day four saw the 6 Metres and Classes 1-4 race a high energy inshore course in the morning, followed by the annual Ladies Race in the afternoon.

With the wind in the south-west and a strong tide running west to east, the yachts started on the Royal Yacht Squadron inner line in glorious sunshine. When approaching the line, the yachts needed smart tactics to negotiate the tide that was ripping down the Solent and washing them over the line to the east.

The 6 Metres headed downwind out to Fastnet Insurance to port, beating back up against the tide to South Bramble. From there, it was a second downwind leg to Goodall Roofing and back upwind to the line.

As Class 1 crossed the line, the Solent was once again festooned with a line of brightly coloured spinnakers against a backdrop of clear blue skies. Class 1, followed by Classes 2 and 3, all powered downwind to Fastnet Insurance. Class 4 crossed the line and set a course for West Ryde Middle.

Most yachts sailed their upwind leg towards Southampton Water estuary to escape the tide before crossing the Solent, allowing for the strong tide to carry them down onto the next mark. A second downwind leg saw spinnakers hoisted in champagne sailing conditions, before the beat back up to the Royal Yacht Squadron line to finish.

The 6 Metre race was won by Thistle, followed by Sioma and Nancy. Flight of Ufford continued her dominant run in Class 1 and took first, with Chloe Giselle in second and Oui Fling in third. David Murrin’s Cetewayo took first in Class 2, followed by AC 2 Tonner/Sloop Opposition in second and Classic 8 Metre Helen in third. Last year’s regatta winner Whooper won Class 3, followed by Sunmaid V in second and International 8 Cruiser/Racer Freyja in third. Class 4 was won by Cereste, with Suvretta in second and Dorothy in third.

Most yachts chose to pick up a mooring and bask in the sunshine whilst grabbing a quick lunch before the start of the afternoon’s Ladies Race. With some famous faces amongst the female helms (including GB Olympic gold medallist Saskia Clark on Kismet), the fleet set off on a packed start line. Running downwind on the last of the tide to West Ryde Middle, a busy mark rounding saw plenty of boats giving water as they hardened up into the wind towards Williams Shipping in the middle of the Solent.

With the tide turning, most yachts chose to stick close to the mainland shore as they tacked their way to the mark and across the Solent to Taking the final mark to port, spinnakers were hoisted as the yachts bore away towards the Royal Squadron line to finish.

Crossing the line to the resounding boom of the cannon, Spirit 52 Oui Fling took line honours followed by Spirit 65 Chloe Giselle in second and Spirit DH63 Gwenhyfar in third. On corrected time, Whooper was in second place and Cetewayo took third; the winner of the Ladies Race, Suvretta, will be presented at the overall prize-giving on Friday.

As the sun went down for the start of another idyllic summer’s evening, crews prepared for the BBQ party at the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club. Thursday sees the yachts take on a Long Inshore race sponsored by Classic Boat magazine.

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Panerai British Classic Week
Day 3: Historic sailing around the NAB Tower

Published 17th July 2018

An early start on day three of Panerai British Classic Week as crews prepared to take on the inaugural NAB Tower Race. The fleet rallied for an 8am start for Classes 1-4 on the Royal Yacht Squadron inner line, with the 6 Metres sailing a shorter inshore course later in the morning.

With the tide running west to east, the fleet benefitted from the following currents as they hoisted spinnakers to cross the start line and take an historic sail past the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight.

Planned in favour of the previous, longer Around the Island Race, the NAB Tower course took the fleet between the iconic Horse Sand and No Mans Land Forts on to the NAB Tower directly off Bembridge Ledge in the east of the Isle of Wight. An imposing 27m tall x 12m wide steel and concrete cylinder, the NAB Tower was built in 1918 to help protect the south coast from German submarines during World War One.

The first leg saw the fleet gliding downwind in sunshine, fair winds and following seas in between the forts and on to the NAB Tower. As the boats approached the tower a leisurely run turned into a very close reach and crews rushed to hoist genoas and drop spinnakers as they went around the tower to port. Rounding the mark, clever tactics were needed to judge the tide, which was washing south out of Southampton pushing the yachts back on to the tower.

As the first boats cleared the tower and headed back between the forts they found themselves in alternating pockets of wind and lulls as well as a strengthening oncoming tide. The long beat back to the Royal Yacht Squadron inner line took in a highlights tour of the north east shoreline of the Isle of Wight, including the picturesque town of Ryde, the formidable Quarr Abbey and Osborne House; a former residence of Queen Victoria.

To avoid the oncoming tide, most yachts chose to stay close to the shoreline, which paid off for many but a number of yachts found themselves caught out by the swift drop in depth and went temporarily aground before nudging themselves back into the tide.

The gusty beat kept crews on their toes as they powered back to the finish, where Spirit 65 Chloe Giselle took Line Honours, followed by Spirit 52 Oui Fling and Spirit DH63 Gwenhyfar.

Yachts returned to Cowes Yacht Haven upbeat about a third day of epic racing in the Solent. Jonathan Dyke, owner and skipper of 10 Tonner Cereste, commented: “What a fantastic sail; the weather, the course… you couldn’t write the regatta script better if you tried.”

On corrected time, Flight of Ufford made it three wins from three in Class 1 followed by Spirit 37 and regatta regular Strega in second, and Spirit 46 Helen of Durgan in third. Sparkman & Stephens Masthead Bermudan Sloop Golden Fleece took Class 2, with Opposition in second and Cetewayo in third. Class 3 was won by Whooper, who also tallies three class wins from three, followed by Laughing Gull, a Sparkman & Stephens yawl, and the Fife Gaff Cutter Kismet. West Solent One Design Suvretta took her third win of the week in Class 4, closely followed by Cereste and Dorothy.

The NAB Tower Race was won overall on corrected time by Suvretta, with Cereste in second and Whooper in third.

This evening sees the open yachts dock party sponsored by Spirit Yachts and Classic Boat magazine as well as the judging for the Concours D’Elegance and Originality prizes. Tomorrow, the yachts will be racing an inshore course in the morning followed by the Ladies Race in the afternoon.

To access live SailRacer tracking during the regatta racing, visit:

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Panerai British Classic Week
Day 2: tidal tacticians triumph in Race 2

Published 16th July 2018

Cowes Yacht Haven was once again drenched in sunshine as day two of Panerai British Classic Week began. With the scheduled NAB Tower Race postponed until Tuesday to make the most of the forecasted stronger winds, Monday began with a briefing and a planned start for 11am.

The breeze took it’s time, but after a short postponement from Royal Yacht Squadron Chief Race Officer Dai Prichard, it filled in from the south west and the fleet was once again treated to some top-class racing in the Solent. Race two began with a downwind start for all classes and the 6 Metre class kicked off proceedings in glorious sunshine on the Royal Yacht Squadron inner line.

With a busy shipping channel to negotiate, the yachts also had to accurately judge the fast-moving tide trying to drag them over the line. Each of the 6 Metre and Class 1-4 starts ran without a hitch and the yachts raced to hoist their spinnakers as they crossed the start line and headed for the first mark.

With nine Spirit Yachts racing, Class 1 (Modern Classics) is a particularly competitive fleet this year. After a first and second in class yesterday, Spirit 52s Flight of Ufford and Oui Fling were once again leading the fleet as they progressed down the first leg.

Whilst Class 1 headed for the Fastnet Insurance mark, Classes 2 and 3 sailed downwind on the tide to Goodall Roofing and Class 4 took a shorter leg to South Bramble. The clear blue skies provided the perfect backdrop to an array of colourful kites as the classes rounded their first marks and headed upwind towards West Lepe. Meanwhile, the 6 Metres went around East Bramble to port and sailed upwind to East Lepe.

The second leg took all the yachts on a long beat, with the leading yachts tackling the oncoming tide and those further back in the race making the most of the (by then) slackening tide. Most boats chose to stick close to the shore to avoid any oncoming currents, which took them right past ‘the dolphins’: former WW2 platforms used to help load departing ships. By this point, the clouds had blown in from the west and the yachts dug in deep for a long beat transitioning into a quick spinnaker hoist as they rounded the windward mark and headed downwind towards the Sevenstar Yacht Transport mark, just off the mainland coast.

On the second, shorter, upwind leg the yachts hugged the shoreline to avoid a strong east-moving tide as they approached the final windward mark; By the time the fleet had hoisted their spinnakers for the final leg to the Royal Yacht Squadron inner line, the sun had broken through the clouds and the Solent was once again bathed in sunshine.

With the tide now ripping down the channel, spectators onshore were treated to a parade of beautiful classic yachts, complete with brightly coloured spinnakers, as they ran downwind close to the shore and past the Royal Yacht Squadron to finish.

Flight of Ufford had another strong day on the water and won Class 1, followed by Oui Fling and Spirit 65 Chloe Giselle. The hotly contested Class 2 was won by the 10 Metre Bojar, with Easy Glider in second and Opposition in third. Class 3 was won by last year’s overall winner Whooper, followed by Richard Matthew’s Fife Gaff Cutter Kismet in second and Sunmaid V in third. West Solent One Design Suvretta made it two wins from two races in Class four, with Cereste in second and Dorothy, a Thames Rater, in third.

Crews will undoubtedly be getting an early night this evening in preparation for tomorrow’s NAB Tower Race, with an inshore ‘round the cans’ race planned for the 6Metre class and those not participating in the NAB Tower Race.

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Panerai British Classic Week
Day 1: champagne sailing in the Solent

Published 15th July 2018

Day one of the 2018 Panerai British Classic Week began in glorious sunshine and blue skies. Comments such as, “we could be in the Mediterranean” could be heard as crews gathered outside Cowes Yacht Haven for the day’s briefing. With 50 boats entered and crews from across the UK and Europe taking part, the regatta looked set to live up to its reputation as a competitive week on the water and a highlight of the sailing social calendar.

Once briefing was complete, the boats headed out of the marina towards the Royal Yacht Squadron for the traditional, annual Concours D’Elegance parade. With the distinctive blast of the cannon resonating across the Solent, the yachts and their crew passed the Royal Yacht Squadron, tipping their hats in salute to the senior representatives of the club as they went.

This year, each yacht has been fitted with a tracker allowing spectators onshore to keep up with all the action on the water and access real time results via With a half an hour’s postponement to the start of the first race allowing the wind to fill in, the fleet headed out under glistening sunshine into a strong spring tide. By the time the 6Metre yachts set off from the inner Royal Yacht Squadron line, there was barely a cloud in the sky and an 8-10 knot south-westerly providing fantastic race conditions.

The first leg saw the 6Metres and Classes 1-3 race upwind from the inner line to Salt Mead. Class 4 had its first start recalled before setting off up to Gurnard Ledge to starboard. The first leg was a closely fought, tactical beat for all classes, with yachts seeking respite inshore from the strong tide and busy channel.

From Salt Mead, the 6Metres and Classes 1 and 4 sailed downwind under spinnakers to East Lepe, whilst Classes 2 and 3 took a downwind leg inshore to Dick Johnson. If you were lucky enough to be in the Solent as the fleet sailed downwind, you would have seen a spectacle of beautiful classic yachts flying an array of brightly coloured spinnakers coming over the horizon. With the sun shimmering on the blue-green water and the warm breeze gliding the yachts towards the next mark, it certainly was champagne sailing conditions.

With the wind building, many yachts battled to bring their spinnakers down as they rounded the mark to starboard. A second upwind leg up to Cowes Yacht Haven for the 6Metres and Class 1, and to Quinnell for Classes 2 and 3 preceded a final downwind leg to the Royal Yacht Squadron inner line for the finish. Class 4 had an extra mark at Quinnell, meeting Class 2 as they went around, resulting in some close calls and entertaining spectating! Class 4 then sailed on to round Cowes Yacht Haven to port before crossing the line to finish.

Owner and skipper of Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford, Sean McMillan, commented: “I have sailed all over the world and when the Solent is at its best, there really is no better place to race on the planet. Today it really was at its best; the sailing conditions were brilliant.”

The crews returned to Cowes Yacht Haven full of adrenaline and eagerly headed to find out the results on corrected time. The 6metre class was won by Sioma, closely followed by Thistle and Nancy. Regatta regular Flight of Ufford and her iconic spitfire spinnaker took Class 1, ahead of Oui Fling and Phantom. Class 2 saw Bojar in first followed by Athena and Golden Fleece, whilst Suvretta won Class 4 ahead of Dorothy and Cereste. With close results across most of the classes, it really is all to play for as we head into day two of the regatta.

Day two sees an amendment to the racing schedule, with Monday’s planned NAB Tower race due to take place on Tuesday in stronger winds and tomorrow will now be an inshore race in the Solent.

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Stunning visitors to the Regatta

Published 2nd July 2018

With entries building for the 2018 Panerai British Classic week, some glamorous names are on the list.

Kismet, a beautiful 48’ Fife Gaff cutter, from 1898, was spotted, while laid up as a houseboat on an Essex mud berth for over 50 years. She was rescued by Richard Matthews, who commissioned a team of shipwrights who spent four years returning Kismet to her former glory. In her first appearance at the Suffolk Classics she won the Tolhurst Trophy for beauty and authenticity.

Dorothy an elegant 1894 Gaff rigged Thames Rater by Linton Hope, recently acquired by Ossie Stewart, measures 33’ length by 7’ 7” width, 3’ 11” depth, and displaces 2.8 tonnes. She is the proverbial skimming dish. In her last appearance at a BCYC Regatta in 2008 she was quick. She looks very pretty, and If the weather is light she could be distressingly fast.

There is a strong turnout in Class 1 with the Spirit fleet headed by newly launched 63’ Yawl, Gwenhyfar. There will be renewed rivalry between Lord Irvine’s racy Oui Fling and Sean McMillan’s “Fast Family Cruiser” Flight of Ufford.

Perennial winner and Solent regular Whooper helmed by Giovanni Belgrano will be on hand as will a strong fleet of regular supporters. Opposition will be back racing in Class 2 and there will be good competition in Classes 3 and 4.

The 6 and 8 Metre classes will be well represented as usual.

Now let’s hope for good weather.

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Published 11th May 2018



Cowes, Isle of Wight – March 2018 The fleet of timelessly gorgeous yachts will do battle in a series of extremely technical and demanding races with both wind conditions and changeable tides testing the crews’ skills to the limits. The Solent races are absolutely unique, thanks to the historic backdrop provided by this corner of sailing heaven and the exceptional technical standard of the participants. Not forgetting, of course, that it was in this very stretch of sea between the Isle of Wight and the mainland that the America’s Cup was born.

The six-race series organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron delivers quality and varied courses that keep many competitors entering year after year. The Nab Tower race will be a new addition to this year’s regatta, taking the fleet east from the Squadron line to the Nab Tower, then back towards Lymington Bank before finishing at the Royal Yacht Squadron. The new race is scheduled to take place on Monday 16th July.

Racing is an important part of the regatta, but it is by no means the sole focus. The event is famous for its camaraderie on and off the water, bringing together classic yachts and enthusiasts from across the UK and Europe, and from as far afield as Australia.

Socialising is a vital part of Panerai British Classic Week and the regatta concludes on Friday 20th July with one final afternoon of hospitality in the Panerai Lounge, followed by the spectacular Panerai British Classic Week prize giving dinner and dance in the Haven Events Centre.

The nature of Cowes makes it the perfect location for spectators to enjoy the action; with fabulous viewpoints over the water, to a host of bars and shops, regatta week has something for everyone.

The regatta promises to be a glorious week on the water with a full and diverse programme and line starts and finishes that will provide picture-perfect moments for competitors and spectators alike as the yachts gather together. A daily programme of ‘cruise in company’ events sees the cruising fleet sailing to a variety of beautiful locations including Bucklers Hard at Beaulieu and Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight.

The British Classic Yacht Club’s motto is Per Ardua ad Marum (Through hard work to the Seas) and after seeing these yachts up close it is not hard to appreciate why. Most of the British classic yachts are privately owned, meaning that for many their upkeep is purely down to the devotion of their owners and crew. With such a rich heritage of classic yachts being built and sailed on Britain’s coastal waters, it is delightful to see so many beautifully maintained yachts entering the regatta every year.

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