The Royal Yacht Squadron’s Bicentenary International regatta is complete. “Four seasons in one week,” was the apt summary from crew member Richard Mason of Dorade of Monday’s gales, and a gradual wind reduction to the windless afternoon that ended the regatta Friday.
Winning all four races in the J Class, capped by a come-from-behind victory Friday, Velsheda maintained her excellent record on what are considered the famous yacht’s ‘home waters’ by winning the class. Lionheart and Velsheda ghosted down through a shortened course finish today, followed by Ranger, with guest Sir Ben Ainslie on board, in a nailbiting, windless finale with only the tidal current helping them to the final winning guns of the week.
The three grand Classics, Eleonora, Mariquita and Sumurun started in the same direction, and were given one long leg to a mark near the forts off Portsmouth, against the tide. A breakage to the top of her mast cost Mariquita a position in this last race and the overall victory went to Robert Tobin’s 1914 built Sumurun, which gained two second and two firsts in the series.
IRC Class 1’s course was shortened from five to four legs at Saltmead in the western Solent. The race was won by Tom Siebel’s Swan 90 Odin, sailed well by her crew which benefitted from the talents of Peter Isler as Navigator, and Steve Hayles as strategist/trimmer. Overall honour for the week ultimately went to Tony Langley’s brilliantly sailed TP52 Gladiator.
Class 4 was abandoned in the light winds Friday while Class 3 had only one finisher, Rives Potts’ Carina. The win sealed her overall victory in class for the owner, who also represented the visiting New York Yacht Club teams as their Commodore. Class 4 sailed enough races for a series during the week however. “We sailed hard until the time limit expired,” said owner of the winning Anna Mai Phil Hutchinson.
“We completely restored the boat when we bought it and scored 2nd in the recent Swan Europeans. Anna Mai loves heavy weather so we were very comfortable in the big blow of Tuesday’s race and enjoyed the Race Around the Island too. It’s been a varied week.”
IRC Class 2 were a little more lucky. Simon Henning’s Mumm 36 Alice completed today’s race as winner nailing overall first place. “We had a good start today at the right end of the line and just led around the course. The contrasts of the event have been stark and it’s been brilliant.”
The five 8 metres weren’t so lucky with the conditions. Prefering moderate winds they were thwarted both at the beginning and the end of the week, but put in two races, with both firsts going to Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia.
There was total US domination of the Team Racing and Level rating events. Over their three days of racing the Team Racing managed to fit in a total of 126 races. With the light winds of Friday the fleet didn’t complete their intended third Round Robin, instead moving straight to the semi finals, in which the St Francis Yacht Club faced the New York Yacht Club, and Royal Thames Yacht Club against Costa Smeralda Yacht Club.
As the wind died away the two victors that faced each other in the finals were St Francis versus Royal Thames. Conditions meant that only one race could be run – and celebrating at the end of the event was St Francis Yacht Club from San Francisco. “We had an awesome time,” said St Francis team tactician Taylor Baeder. “Our team have sailed with against each other for a while. We made mistakes but not too many, we stuck to the basics.”