Glorious conditions greeted the 52 strong fleet yesterday, who spent a long day on the water

Day three of the British Classic Yacht Club Panerai Cowes Regatta 2010 saw the fleet complete a long distance race in glorious weather conditions. CLICK HERE to see some of the images from the event, courtesy of Ingrid Abery.

The 35 mile course took the competitors to some of the far reaches of the Solent and presented navigators and tacticians, who had to plot through capricious tides and hidden sand-banks, with numerous problems.

Yesterday’s race got under with the entire fleet of 52 sailing under clear blue skies in 10 to 12 knots of breeze. The yachts initially beat westward for several miles before turning at Lymington for a long run back down the Solent under spinnaker.

The 1987 12 Metre, Italia, appeared to revel in yesterday’s conditions and having made a good start close to the Island shore was quickly able to tack and cross the fleet. Italia led by several minutes at the first buoy from her 12 Metre rival, the 1937 built Wings. Initially Italia looked comfortable in first place as she powered downwind, but soon after pulling off a slick spinnaker peel, realisation suddenly dawned amongst the Italia crew that they were heading for the wrong buoy. As both Wings and the 1911 built 19 Metre Gaff-Cutter, Mariquita, thundered past under full sail, Italia was forced into a scrambled spinnaker drop which saw them without a headsail for several minutes.

Mariquita, using her enormous downwind sail plan to good use, overtook Wings and powered into a substantial lead at the front of the fleet. As the race progressed however, the crew aboard Italia dug deep and managed to use their superior upwind speed to claw their way back by the finish, to take a well deserved, on the water at least, Class 1 and overall fleet victory. Wings finished next, taking line honours in Class 2 ahead of Mariquita who came home third on the water.

Stephen O’Flaherty who had been racing aboard his Spirit 54 Sloop, Soufriere, in Class 1, summed up the day’s experience: “A simply fantastic day out and one of the best races I think we have ever had in this boat. Glorious conditions and what it is amazing is that after thirty odd miles of racing we think there will be just seconds in it on handicap.”

Richard Matthews spoke of a “superb day” aboard his restored 1898 Gaff Cutter, Kismet, despite having lost and retrieved two crew members on separate gybes. “Retrieving them was straightforward: just go head to wind and drag them back aboard. They do learn to hang on eventually,” said Matthews.

Racing at the British Classic Yacht Club Panerai Cowes Regatta 2010 continues today with two races schedules for all classes.