Last week’s Panerai Classic Cowes Regatta hosted a close contest in class one, but finally Souffriere from the Royal Irish Yacht Club owned by Stephen O’Flaherty narrowly won in the end on a count back.
It was a fantastic regatta at every level. Sailing in shorts and tee-shirts at 50 degrees north is special, even in the Solent. Panerai as usual provided the ultimate on and off the water organisation known to man - or woman. The Squadron and Cowes yacht haven made the surroundings most hospitable.
The racing was superb, handing out everything from 3 to 30 knots of warm breeze. ‘Flight of Ufford’ owned by Sean McMillan of Spirit yachts took an early lead in Class one as a result of a convincing performance in the round the island race. 25knots of westerly wind, an ebb tide and a symmetric kite running down the shore of the north island proved too much for the rest of the fleet, a true horizon job.
As the week progressed, it was Souffriere who did the slow steady catching up. Not to take away from the tremendous effort by the skipper and crew, but much of the performance can be attributed to a new 180 SqM A2 built as a concept by North Sails. Like sailing under a tennis court, deep and fast was the result, and sheer size meant that the boat just didn’t slow in the light patches. All this – with a rating drop.
Souffriere, as you may remember was the star of Casino Royal on a short sexy trip into Venice. Much improved now by O’Flea complete with Carbon rig, main traveller and 3DL sails, she is a true classic thoroughbred. Both Flight (Spirit 52’) and Souffriere (Spirit 54’) finished out the event on 9points but Souffriere won on 4 Bullets against Flight’s 3 wins. McMillian of course is reputed to have said ‘I knew I should have kept the 54 and got rid of that 52 foot shitter. (Next year Sean…)
All this, to a beautiful rendition of ‘the auldest bowman in Cowes’ sung by Prof and Nigel Young? – Oh the irony of that…