Savannah powers through

British Classic Yacht Club Regatta enjoys 20 knots

Thursday July 23rd 2009, Author: Justin Chisholm, Location: United Kingdom
After the gales of the previous day had prevented any racing, the fifty-four boat fleet at the British Classic Yacht Club Regatta Cowes 2009 were chomping at the bit to get back to the task at hand on day four. Happily today’s weather forecast predicted twelve knots of wind for most of the day, enabling the Race Committee to send the boats on a round the island course for the scheduled long inshore race. With an early start time of eight o’clock, the fleet found the Solent almost deserted when they assembled off the Royal Yacht Squadron before setting off with the tide towards the east. A gentle 8knot southerly breeze gradually built as they made their way down tide towards the Forts and most boats were able to hoist spinnakers immediately after the start.

Hugh Morrison’s Modern Classic Savannah found the conditions very much to her liking and using her large white fractional spinnaker to great effect, she quickly established a big lead on the fleet. Pelham Olive’s Kelpie led the chasing pack at the No Man’s Land Fort, rounding in second place and heading the Class 1 comfortably on the water. P.Wilson’s If was also well in the Class 1, as was R.Haydock’s Pazienza, who counted round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari amongst her afterguard. With the breeze having built to 12 knots and with the assistance of the easterly tidal flow, the entire classic fleet were able to make excellent early progress. So much so that by 11am all the yachts had left Solent waters and were well into their Isle of Wight circumnavigation.

As the race progressed the skies cleared and wind continued to as much as twenty knots, making for a spectacular and somewhat challenging sail for the fleet of classic yachts. Savannah continued to set a blistering pace around the back of the island and made it to the Needles at around 13.30, almost 30 minutes ahead of the earliest time predicted by the on shore pundits. Next to come into view were two other Modern Classics, Enrique L Granados’s Dragon, followed by SN O’Flaherty’s Soufriere. Peter Lucas aboard Argyll was the first Class 1 boat to reach the Needles, If also continuing to put up an impressive challenge for a class victory.

At around 1600 in a solid 20 knot breeze and under perfect blue skies, her massive genoa poled out in a goosewing configuration, Savannah powered across the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line to take the line honours gun. Later on the dock, a smiling Hugh Morrison was once again quick to praise the race committee: "I was so pleased that they chose to start today’s race on time despite the light conditions at the start. Hats off to Tony Lovell and his team for another great day’s racing." Morrison was less sure over an overall win today however and was predicting a victory for the medium-sized boats. "I think the faster boats suffered from the tide more than the rest," he commented. "Once we passed the Forts this morning we were pretty much punching tide the whole way around. We finished 45 minutes ahead of Soufriere on the water but I’m not sure we got far enough ahead to win."

Tonight the competitors have a break from formal regatta social engagements, no doubt leaving them free to enjoy many the restaurants and bars in Cowes. Tomorrow’s final day racing schedule has been amended to try to re-sail Wednesday’s lost race, with the first of the day’s two races schedules for a ten o’clock start.

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