Taittinger Royal Solent Regatta

Last week saw the opening of the Taittinger Royal Solent Regatta with the champagne reception held at the Royal Solent Yacht Club’s landmark clubhouse in Yarmouth. It was gratifying to see that the Regatta had attracted over 170 entries. Perfect weather conditions enabled over 700 guests to spread out into the grounds for the Taittinger Champagne Reception and watch a stunning display from Yarmouth’s RNLI Lifeboat and the Coastguard Helicopter. A great IRC entry, boosted by support from the Solent IRC Owner’s Association (SIRCOA), meant four IRC divisions. For the first time, they were joined by a big fleet of J/24s, who were running the qualifiers for the J/24 World Championships in Germany in 2015. Saturday dawned bright and clear, but with a light and faltering breeze. Because of the numbers and different classes of yachts, two separate start lines were employed and racing started at 10 o’clock. In the late morning, the breeze died completely and many competitors anchored or drifted, in blistering heat, awaiting the promised sea breeze. It turned up as expected, but not quite enough to enable all classes to enjoy the promised two races. In Black Group, two races were completed only for IRC divisions. Most of the fleet passed an idle hour or so kedged off Yarmouth Common. Most spent the windless and sweltering middle of the day drifting gently, to be brought back by the sea breeze as it filled in from the west. There was no time to run a second race. Racing was over by mid-afternoon with competitors returning to the clubhouse for a well-earned drink, followed by a sailing supper. Many then went on to the annual Towers Party where the aim is to raise money for charity; this year the recipient charity was the Saturday Club for Deaf Children. On Sunday the weather was light overcast and refreshingly cooler. The light breeze held and it was possible for most of the classes who had only one race on Saturday to catch up with two on Sunday. On return to the clubhouse, hungry competitors descended on the hog roast whilst anticipating the prize giving. With so many classes, this took a little time, but nobody minded the wait as the winner of each class received a Magnum of Taittinger Champagne. Bob Fisher, a decades-long J/24 veteran from Lymington and skipper of his diminutive 1898 Fife-designed yacht called MIGNON, said, “What a super weekend the Taittinger Regatta turned out to be. Blunted by the sponsors’ generosity on the Friday evening, it demanded quick thinking by the crews on both days. Light and often fickle winds require constantly changing decisions to meet the new challenges of both breeze and tidal streams. Those who race regularly in the western Solent had some advantage, as the result sheets showed!!” In the world of J/24s, the racing was all about thrashing around the cans, kedging and drifting and dodging all manner of other much-less maneuverable boats. Nevertheless, taking the title was CHAOTIC followed by JOLLY ROGER and PHOENIX for the top three. For more Taittinger Royal Solent Regatta sailing information, click here.

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