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Hamble Classics 2019 - flying high at the RAF Yacht Club

by Jonty Sherwill 25 Sep 09:20 BST 20-22 September 2019

The fourth Hamble Classics Regatta hosted this year by the Royal Air Force Yacht Club (20-22 September) was another major success with 68 entries across 10 classes and for the first time extended to three days to launch 'Big Classic Friday', with extra racing for the larger yachts.

With continued support from Spinlock, Performance Rigging, Classic Marine, the Sandeman Yacht Company, Ratsey & Lapthorn Sailmakers, The Elephant Boatyard, A-Plan Marine Insurance and Joseph Perrier Champagne, this year OneSails GBR and Blakes & Taylors were also welcomed to the Hamble Classics Regatta.

The entry list of 68 included 23 yachts new to the event and as usual some yachts cruised to the Hamble from outside the Solent, although one that was heading out from Poole on Friday morning decided that the building south-easterly breeze would be a bit too much of a test for this cherished possession.

From Miles Atherton's 16 foot gaffer 'Mouse' up to Irvine Laidlaw's 52 foot 'Oui Fling' the Hamble Classics fleet was as diverse as ever, and maintaining the strong traditional flavour of the event the big gaffers 'Jolie Brise' and 'Thalia' thundered round the course on Saturday and were joined by 'Aeolus' and 'Peggy Bawn' on Sunday in the gentler conditions.

With a packed social programme starting with tea and home made cakes on Friday afternoon laid on by the lady members of the RAFYC and others, the Welcome Reception in the evening included the prize giving for the 'Big Classic Friday' racing sponsored by OneSails GBR, and the boisterous conditions in the Solent on Friday had ensured exciting racing for the Spirit Yachts in the IRC Zero class and the larger classics in the IRC1 class.

With more wind than forecast, up to 25 knots, the big waves and clear visibility were perfect for the event's official photographer Rick Tomlinson to get some great images.

Principal Race Officer Peter Bateson set courses from Quinnell buoy for Friday's racing but was further east on Saturday for the whole Red Line fleet, while the Green Line for the smaller boats under the direction of Stephen Parry was near the race buoy named after a much-missed sailor, John Fisher.

After a bumpy ride round the course on Saturday, the gentle flood tide delivered the small boat fleet in a lighter breeze up the river to finish off Hamble River Sailing Club, and despite a few gear breakages all the yacht crews and the race teams arrived back at the RAFYC lawn for the ever-popular Elephant Boatyard rum party with broad smiles after an exciting day. Prizes by Spinlock were awarded for the best performances of the day in each class.

At the Hamble Classics Dinner in the evening, supported by Joseph Perrier champagne, where over 200 guests enjoyed excellent food, David Aisher and Bill Blain were invited to give their contrasting accounts about sailing aboard David's 'Thalia', with Bill's typically irreverent humour seeming to resonate with a majority of the audience! The evening continued with another addition to the Hamble Classics programme, a live band and dancing.

On Sunday morning after an early rain squall the wind eased to a near flat calm, but at midday a new breeze from the south arrived to conclude the closely contested points series before tea and prizes back at the club.

Over a weekend of contrasting conditions 'Oui Fling' helmed by her owner Irvine Laidlaw repeated last year's first place in IRC Zero, Richard Hargreaves' 30-Square Metre 'Aeolus' dominated in IRC1, in IRC2 George Beevor's Sagitta 35 'Ugly Duckling of Hamble' matched her win in Regatta Class last year but only beating Bruce Thorogood's Mabel on tie-break, as did the magnificent 'Jolie Brise' (skipper Toby Marris) ahead of David Aisher's 'Thalia' in the Gaffer 1 class. In the Regatta 1 class an event newcomer James Shepherd took first place overall in his Contessa 32 'Lauran', again by tie-break from Chris Mansfield's Nic' 35 'Samiotissa' with Nicola Simper's S&S 34 'Blueberry' close behind.

In the Green Line fleet Gary and Claire Rossall sailing 'Little X' won again in the XOD class from Mos Fitzgerald in 'Kathleen', Adrian Green in 'Aurora' won the Dragon class from Tim Street in 'Tschuss', and Ben Clothier in the varnished 'Battlecry' won the 6-Metre class from David Roberts' classic 'Melita' skippered by John Mellows.

Paul Spooner in his gaff yawl 'Snippet' won the Gaffer 2 class from David and Sue Pennison in 'Satellite' and in the Regatta 2 class swelled by the open dayboats 'Intombi' (Neil Martin) and 'Cockleshell' sailed by Jonty Sherwill, Vicki Weston and Gordon Bonney, the winner was Kim Morley's Nordic Folkboat 'Valhalla' on a tie-break from 'Cockleshell'. The Harrison-Butler 'Sabrina' (Craig and Kate Nutter) and 'Ragdoll' (Mark and Liz Rushall) were only two points behind, and sadly a broken gooseneck fitting on the beautiful Fife 24 'Intombi' on Saturday ruled out an even more competitive final race.

At the main prize giving on Sunday afternoon the organising team members, the 25-strong race team and other volunteers, and the RAFYC staff were all thanked for their efforts, as was the Hamble River Sailing Club for its support with a RIB and buoys, before the class winners and runners up received their race prizes and the special trophies awarded, the Tea-for-Two trophy to 'Mouse', Norlethe trophy to John Best, the RAFYC Rear-Commodore Sailing, and the Kismet trophy for most fun crew to 'Whisper of Lymington'.

Sponsored by A-Plan Marine Insurance, the Concours d'Elegance Award winners were hard to pick out from this distinguished fleet, but the top prize was presented to Richard and Ben Clothier for their immaculate varnished 6-Metre 'Battlecry', designed by Ian Howlett and built by the Webb brothers in Hamble in 1988. The award for most authentic yacht went to Philip and Peter Knight-Jones for 'Phizz', an RAFYC yacht from 1957-59 that as 'Blue Jacket' helped to win the RORC club championship in 1958. The best Spirit of Tradition yacht was judged to be Ian Ratnage's 'Whisper of Lymington, and for best GRP yacht, Peter Charles' Kim Holman designed Sovereign 35 'Queen Bee'.

During the weekend a cash collection at the Friday tea and cakes session plus an envelope raffle at the Hamble Classics Dinner for an engraved glass vase raised a very generous £1150 for the Wetwheels Hamble boat, that was kindly loaned to be the Red Line Finish Boat.

Summary of the four Concours winners:

Concours d'Elegance - ultimate condition - the top prize
Battlecry - 1988 Ian Howlett designed International 6-Metre
Owner Richard and Ben Clothier

Concours d'Authenticité - condition and originality
Phizz - 1951 Frederick Parker designed Class II Ocean Racer
Owners Peter and Philip Knight-Jones

Best Spirit of Tradition - or New Build
Whisper of Lymington - 2003 Spirit 46 designed by Sean MacMillan
Owner Ian Ratnage

Best presented GRP yacht
Queen Bee - 1969 designed Kim Holman designed Sovereign 35
Owner Peter Charles

Race Results at rafyc.org.uk/hamble-classics-regatta/#Results

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