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  • Writer's pictureClassic Regattas Limited

Classic Solent racing

It was a fabulous day of racing for the Richard Mille Cup fleet, with bright sunshine and 15 knots of steady northerly wind showing off the Solent at its best. 

 

As the regatta settled into its three-day stay hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, the opening race saw two outstanding performances to win Blue and Black group that shook up the overall standings so far. 


The forecast was for a breezy day and on some yachts reefs were being put in as the sails were stowed the previous day, following the arrival from Dartmouth. 


So it proved to be, with a minor postponement by the race committee until conditions off the Castle flattened out a little. 



The first start came at 11:30, with the 1920 Nicholson gaff yawl Patna well ahead of her Blue group competitors Alpha, Cynthia and Thalia. 

 

Black group saw a fabulous start, straight out of a vintage Beken photo, with Moonbeam, Viveka and Mariquita hard on the wind, crossing the line almost together. Moonbeam IV followed 100 yards behind. It later emerged Viveka and Moonbeam had been marginally early, but overall it wasn’t to matter, as Moonbeam IV took the first leg in one tack, overtaking the entire group.  


Hard on her heels after the turn was Viveka, reminding any doubters that schooners love breeze too, the yacht originally built for JP Morgan back in 1929 powering downwind impressively. Atlantic and Elena, in White group, were also putting on a show. The two big schooners were not officially racing today, but sailed their own course and provided a wonderful sight for spectators. 



At the first mark, Mariquita and the two Moonbeams had taken the north shore and looked to have fallen behind, but keen to keep in the last of the west-going tide, Viveka soon gave up her position to join them further out. 


Off Ryde, with the tide starting to slacken, spectators were treated to another marvelous sight as Mariquita, Viveka, Elena and Atlantic converged on the easterly mark. But again it was Moonbeam IV that rounded first and proved the yacht to beat all day. 


Blue group, too, were enjoying a great race and it was the pilot cutter Alpha that looked most at home in the conditions, ahead of Cynthia and Patna. Patna eventually got the better of Cynthia but in the final stages there was a friendly wave between the crews of these two Cornwall-based yachts as they passed port to port.  



There was no catching Alpha, though, the 1904 pilot cutter showing the pace that made her one of the most renowned working boats of her time. Willem Sholtes, owner, said: “She is always better when there is a lot of wind. We carried all our sail except the big jackyard topsail - that was too big for today - but we had “Daddy’s topsail”, our smallest, which I can raise when I sail single-handed, and later on we changed it for the middle topsail. The other thing in our favour was our navigator, who was excellent and made all the right decisions. It was too light for us in Falmouth, but the moment that it starts to pick up, it’s our event. We’re 40 tonnes and our competitors are one third of that or less. She was made to be quick and to be seaworthy.” 


In Black group, it was Moonbeam IV who was untouchable today, finishing nine minutes ahead of Viveka and Mariquita on corrected time, after an exhilarating 3hrs 30mins of racing.

 

Malo Pocheau, who does the runners on the yacht said: “The start wasn’t in our favour but we wanted to be on the safe side, then on the first leg we hit the right angle and sail configuration soon enough to be able to do it in one tack. The others had to do two and that’s when we took the lead and never gave it back. It is the kind of weather that the boat likes, so we made full use of that. It was good for us to win one and start to unlock that winning spirit. I think we’re all thrilled and hope that there are more to come.” 


In the overall standings, Alpha moves up to second behind Patna in Blue group. In Black, Mariquita and Viveka tied on corrected time today. Mariquita’s wins last week keep her in good stead, ahead of Viveka and Moonbeam IV in third overall. 

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