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2019 Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta

by Oliver Dewar 1 Aug 10:27 BST 26-28 July 2019

Record breaking entries, tricky breeze, a lot of luck and a popular overall winner at the 2019 Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta.

For the 12th edition of the Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta, supported by Rouse Ltd. (26-28 July), and based in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, the breeze - unusually - trended from the north and with a record 214 boats competing, the event's Race Committee chose to start all racing from the Island shore: Black Group (132 boats) close under the clay cliffs just west of Hamstead Ledge and White Group (82 boats) directly in front of the Royal Solent's clubhouse just east of Yarmouth Pier.

As the tide turned to flood for the second race on Saturday, the NW breeze of 8-11 knots spluttered, wheezed and disappeared across the Western Solent before backing to WSW and settling at a disappointing four knots. Andy Ash-Vie of J80 Wild Cat 3 from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, racing in the J70/J80 Class, described the conditions: "It was quite challenging on Saturday, especially the second race when the wind switched off and we had to sail through a series of wind holes," he explains. Wild Cat 3 was halfway across the Solent when the wind vaporized. "We had a nice lead, then went from hero to zero and then got it all back again," Ash-Vie continues. "It was a shortened course and I'm very grateful for that," he admits. "Unfortunately, we had a very successful social time," adds Ash-Vie. "We misbehaved on Friday night and we misbehaved on Saturday night at The Towers Party!" Sailing with five regular crew, Ash-Vie and his team delivered a 1-1-1 scorecard despite the hectic socialising.

Swan 41 Moustique of Haven Ports Yacht Club raced in the six-boat IRC Swan fleet and took first overall with a 2-2-1 tally over the two days. Josh Major, helmsman and son of the yacht's owner, Alan, admits that luck played a major part in their success: "We had to do a hand brake turn to finish the second race on Saturday, which was quite lucky, to be honest!" he confesses. "The tide and wind were a bit fluky, but we hit a lot more ladders than snakes, so it was all okay." Sailing with a regular crew, with many taken from Josh Major's Half-Tonner, they supplemented their crew upon arrival in Yarmouth: "We also picked-up a random Aussie guy in the bar on Friday evening, so we were actually one-up," he explains. "We've had a really good, fun weekend and partied hard as well. We're definitely going to come back next year," Major confirms.

On Sunday the breeze, again, looked promising at around 11 knots from the NW with stunning sunshine and an ebb tide before the wind dropped at around 11.00 after an hour's racing, switching to the west and building to 12 knots. Both the XOD and Folkboat fleets had 27 entries - the largest classes at the regatta - with Simon Flack of Parkstone Yacht Club showing early dominance in the Folkboats with two wins on Saturday for Stralende. Once again, luck had played a major part with Stralende in fifth place as the wind died in the second race, but Flack's crew held their nerve: "Everyone in the Folkboat fleet was just bobbing around and we watched a patch of dark water and a tiny bit of breeze arrived," Flack explains. "We were very, very lucky....not sure if any skill was really involved!"

Sunday, however, was a different game for Stralende and although Flack admits his crew partied with great energy at the Champagne Taittinger Reception on Friday night, Saturday evening was more subdued: "I don't know if it was the pressure of leading the fleet after the first day, but we really didn't want to make fools of ourselves on Sunday," he explains. Pre-start on Sunday, Stralende undertook two practice runs on the start line in a ferocious ebb tide. "When the time came, it was a complete and utter disaster!" admits Flack. "Every other Folkboat near us was all over us, then we managed to work our way through the huge bundle of boats at the first windward mark, picked the shifts right and ended up with the front boats again," he recalls of their fourth place finish in the final race. "It was a fantastic regatta, we really enjoyed it," says Flack. "We had a great deal of luck and a great time!"

For the second year running, Harry Brewer and the crew of J109 Space 8 from Parkstone Yacht Club took the Overall Winner Prize for the 2019 Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta with three bullets - matching the team's score from last year's regatta. "We were sailing with eight - half kids and half adults, with half under 12, and half over 40!" Brewer explained at the prize giving on the RSYC's waterside lawn. "It wasn't an easy win, but it was a fun one," adds Brewer, who has been competing at the regatta for the past ten years. "Another great weekend and it really is the highlight of our social calendar coming here. It's just the best weekend; we love Yarmouth anyway and cruise here a lot, so to come here and race is really very nice!" Of his second successive overall win at the regatta, Brewer holds his junior crew responsible. "It's down to Josie, Tilly and Lizzie, who sat on the rail pulling various pieces of rope and having to deal with slightly wet spinnakers occasionally."

Anne Kyle, Commodore of the Royal Solent Yacht Club, is delighted with the success of the regatta weekend: "One of the nicest things I've heard is that people find it's a friendly regatta with a family feel," says Anne. "On Sunday morning, one of the competitors commented that the regatta is a great event in Yarmouth, interspersed with a bit of sailing!"

The 2020 Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta will be held on Friday 17th - Sunday 19th July.

Full results for the 2019 Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta can be found here.

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