The Panerai British Classic Yacht Week, which concluded recently at Cowes, delivered a week of superb sailing. In the course of the English round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the fleet of timelessly gorgeous yachts did battle in a series of extremely technical and demanding races with both wind conditions and tides testing the crews’ skills to the limits.
Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 sloop Whooper proved the most adept of them all, however, and took home the coveted Panerai watch for the second consecutive year as result.
The Solent races are absolutely unique both thanks to the historic backdrop provided by this corner of sailing heaven, and the exceptional technical standard of the participants. Not forgetting, of course, that it was in this very stretch of sea between the island of Cowes and the mainland that the America’s Cup was born.
Racing is an important part of the regatta, but it is by no means the sole focus. The event brings together classic yachts and those who love them from across the UK and Europe, and from as far afield as Australia. The furthest travelled team at this year’s event was led by Martin Ryan of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, who was making his second appearance at the regatta and this year sailed the 1934 William Fife 6 Metre Melita.
“We came last year and loved it. To be back and now sailing Melita is a joy. The yachts are stunning, it’s a fabulous regatta and we can’t wait to come back.”
Socialising is also a vital part of Panerai British Classic Week and the regatta concluded with one final afternoon of hospitality in the Panerai Lounge, followed by the spectacular Panerai British Classic Week Prize Giving Dinner and Dance in the Haven Events Centre.
The British Classic Yacht Club’s motto is Per Ardua ad Marum (Through hard work to the Seas) and the restoration and maintenance of these individual pieces of yachting history certainly takes a lot of very hard work. To recognise this a new Concours d’Elegance trophy category has been introduced. A blue ribbon panel of judges, headed by Rob Peake, editor of Classic Boat, gave each yacht a detailed inspection and after careful deliberation the inaugural winners were announced.
The Cetewayo Cup for the Best Professionally Maintained Yacht was won by Michael Briggs’ 1904 Fife 30 Linear Rater Mikado for her Edwardian originality and period interior, faithfully kept 113 years later.
The Droleen II Trophy for the Best Owner Prepared yacht went to the 1952 William Fife fractional Bermudan sloop Nyachilwa owned by Graham Dallas, a rare family Fife kept in faithful condition by the owners.
And the Per Ardua Ad Mare Trophy, for the Overall Winner, was presented to Cuilan, a 1969 George McGruer ketch which has been owned by Brian Smullen for all of her 48 years, and is still as handsome as the day she was launched.
Paul Spooner’s lovely little 1934 George Holmes 34’ gaff yawl Snippet, won both the Brian Keelan Memorial Trophy for the first gaffer and the Seamanship Award donated by Classic Boat, for sheer determination in taking on the big boys!
Prizes & Winner
The overall winner of the BCYC Racing Trophy is Giovanni Belgrano and his crew of Whooper.
The other winner for each class are:
Irvine Laidlaw’s Spirit 52 Oui Fling won the Lutine Cup for Class 1.
Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles sloop Whooper won the Corinthian Cup for Class 2.
Michael Brigg’s 1904 Fife Mikado won the Commodore’s Cup for Class 3.
Richard Matthews’ 1963 Stella Scorpio won the Cereste Trophy for Class 4.
Fenton Burgin’s 1926 Anker & Jensen Sioma won the Event Trophy for the 6 Metres