Wednesday June 30 2010 Author: PRPETA Location: United Kingdom


This event marks the start of the revival of Big Class classic yacht racing in the Solent

Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK: It is already being heralded as one of those rare ‘must see’ occasions when four of the most beautiful Big Class classic yachts in the world will be racing together off Cowes, Isle of Wight, between 6th – 10th July, as they compete to win the inaugural Westward Cup Regatta. The Regatta is being organised by three of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world, namely the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) and two partner Clubs, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) and Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM). It is very much hoped that this event will mark the revival of and interest in Big Class yacht racing in the Solent and around the world over the coming years.

Initiated by the owner of one of these Big Class yachts, Eleonora, a replica of Westward, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Westward’s launch, the organisers have set out to replicate a style, class and regatta atmosphere matching the period when Westward and the Big Class yachts all raced in Cowes, the birthplace of such elegant racing during the 1920s and 30s.

A number of Big Class yacht owners have been personally invited to race against each other over 40-50 mile courses similar to those that these yachts or their predecessors will have sailed in those golden days of Big Class racing. Depending on the weather conditions, the schedule may include a race around the Isle of Wight.

With the advent of 21st century tracking technology starting to introduce yacht racing to a far larger and global audience, armchair enthusiasts will be able to follow the yachts’ progress online as they sail their courses with each being fitted with a Yellowbrick Tracking device.

Safety is paramount

With the ‘traffic’ conditions in the Solent having changed quite considerably since those early days of racing in somewhat quieter waters, safety is paramount. There will be a large exclusion zone around the Royal Yacht Squadron start line, a safety officer on board each of the competing yachts as well as a support RIB for each of the yachts. Those safety measures put in place will greatly benefit from the wealth of race organisation experience available at the Royal Yacht Squadron, including its highly successful running of the 2001 America’s Cup Jubilee.

In terms of the racing programme, four days of racing and a rest day have been scheduled and the sailing instructions will adhere as closely as possible to those agreed by “La Belle Classe”, an association of classic yachts initiated by the YCM. There is also a superb social programme lined up for the owners, their guests, captains and crew. The Event is also being supported by Boat International Media as a media partner.


This exquisite fleet of Big Class classic yachts will, generally speaking, be racing within the confines of the Solent and everyone can watch the starts and finishes in Cowes for the duration of the Westward Cup Regatta. The key vantage points are along Cowes Parade and below the Castle parapet, and along Princes Green to the West. It is incredible that these huge yachts carry a racing crew of up to 40 and can take up to half an hour to put up and another half an hour to take down their sails.  The Captain of Mariquita was telling me this morning that it takes up to two hours to rig the boat.

Owing to the amount of room these boats need to manoeuvre, there will strict on-water guidelines in place for all spectator and pleasure craft and safety boats patrolling.

The Westward Cup and regatta trophies

An English Silversmith, Mr Richard Parsons, has been commissioned to design and build the Westward Cup, a perpetual trophy being crafted on behalf of the owner of Eleonora, in celebration of the centenary of Westward’s launch in July 1910. The Cup will be similar in design to the Cup that Westward won when she was racing in the Solent and will be presented to the overall winner of the inaugural Westward Cup Regatta in July 2010. There are keepsake trophies for the overall winner, and second and third overall. As each of the four race days is being sponsored by one of each of the participating yacht clubs and one by Boat International Media, there are also Club trophies and keepsake trophies to be presented.

The competitors

The organisers confirm that the following four Big Class yachts will be on this historic of start lines:

ELEONORA Using original drawings from the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company which built Westward, and from close study of contemporary photographs, Eleonora is an exact replica of her famous antecedent. Built in Holland at Van der Graaf Shipyard in steel, she was launched 90 years to the day of Westward’s launch, on 31 March 2000. Since then, she has been a regular and successful competitor on the Classic yacht circuit. Superbly fitted out in mahogany, with period details, she has two doubles and one twin stateroom and a full-beam owner’s stateroom aft.

LOA 49.5m (160ft)

LWL 29.3m (96ft 1in)

Beam 8.2m (27ft 1in)

Draught 5.2m (17ft 1in)

Sail area 1,115m2 (12,000ft2)

Displacement 214 tons


MARIQUITA Mariquita(Spanish for ‘ladybird’) is the sole survivor of the 19 Metre Class, whose racing career flourished for two brief seasons before the First World War. Designed and built by William Fife at his Fairlie yard in 1911, Mariquita along with Corona, Norada (Nicholson) and Octavia thrilled the racing public from Kiel to the Clyde, where they arrived having braved a North sea gale. After the collapse of the class, Mariquita went cruising and eventually, minus her keel and rig, became a houseboat at Pin Mill, Suffolk. She was rediscovered in 1991 by William Collier, and restored on the Hamble by Fairlie Restorations in 2004. A winner at Imperia she attended the Fife gathering on the Clyde in 2008.

LOA 38.1m (125ft)

LWL 20.1m (66ft)

Beam 5.3m (17ft 4in)

Draught 3.7m (12ft)

Sail area 585m2 (6,260ft2)

Displacement 79 tons


MARIETTE Built in 1915, Mariette was designed by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff for J Frederick Brown of Boston, a successful wool merchant, who raced and cruised her along the North and Shore Shores of Boston from 1916 to 1927. Renamed Cleopatra’s Barge under Francis K Crowninshield’s ownership, she was requisitioned by the American Navy during the war and declined thereafter. She was brought over to Europe in 1975 and underwent various major refits in 1980 and again in 1995. Thomas Perkins of San Francisco is credited with restoring her to her glorious Gaff rigged specification. Mariette is a regular and successful competitor in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and European classic events.

LOA 42.06m (138ft)

LWL 24.38m (80ft)

Beam 7.19m (23ft 7in)

Draught 4.8m (15ft 9in)

Sail area 750m2 (8,060ft2)

Displacement 165 tons


TUIGA Tuiga was built in 1909 for the Duke of Medinacelli, who was a friend to the King of Spain, and designed identically to the King's yacht, Hispania. This was so that they could then race on equal terms against each other. However, Tuiga collected a long line of second places allowing rumours to spread that indicated the Duke was 'holding back' so as not to beat the King and cause an embarrassing situation. Tuiga was the first 15-Metre to be restored at Fairlie Restorations and has been owned by Monaco Yacht Club since 1993. She was joined by her sister, The Lady Anne, in 1999 and awaits her old rival, Hispania, over the next few years.

LOA 27.36m (92ft)

LWL 15.68m (48ft 11in)

Beam 4.15m (14ft 1in)

Draught 2.95m (9ft 10in)

Sail area 390m2 (4,014ft2)

Displacement 50 tons (original)

Additional notes of interest

Westward The schooner Westward was launched on March 31, 1910, as hull number 692 at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. in Bristol, Rhode Island, USA. She was designed by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, the “Wizard of Bristol”, the designer of the America’s Cup defenders that turned back all six challenges from 1893 to 1920. Westward was arguably one of the most famous and best-known racing schooners in the world. Less than a month after her launch, she sailed to Europe to challenge the world’s fastest schooners in the regattas in England and Germany. With Charlie Barr, who was one of the finest racing skippers in the world at her helm, she took first place in all eleven starts during her first season. In the following years, and especially during the last eleven years (1924 – 1935) of her racing career under the ownership of Mr. T.B. Davis, she raced successfully against the leading yachts of the era, including King George V’s cutter Britannia. According to the will of T.B. Davis, she was scuttled in 1947 in the English Channel, near the spot where Britannia was sunk in 1935 according to the will of King George V.

Eleonora On March 31, 2000, exactly 90 years after Westward was launched, Eleonora was launched in the Netherlands. Truly a replica of Westward, Eleonora has exactly the same lines and was built using the same materials and on the basis of the original Westward drawings available at the Hart Nautical Collection of MIT Museum in Boston, USA. Today, Eleonora perpetuates the spirit of Westward, as she cruises with her owners and charter guests and successfully races in classic regattas in Europe, the Caribbean, and the US. She continues to carry the spirit of Big Class racing to classic yacht gatherings where she sails.

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