There can be few things more beautiful than seeing a collection of classic yachts as rest, basking in the sunshine as they're given their final leather down before the start of a big race
There can be few things more beautiful than seeing a collection of classic yachts as rest, basking in the sunshine as they’re given their final leather down before the start of a big race. This year’s Mediterranean opener for traditional boat regattas and Prada Challenge for the classic yachts, Voiles d’ Antibes – Trophee Prada, in mid-June provided the perfect opportunity to catch up with these classic beauties and see how they performed under sail.
As a first timer, I was fortunate to join Mike Rose and his team aboard Thelma, the 1898 60ft Logan-built yacht which originates from New Zealand. Thankfully, after an eventful life which included a sinking during a storm in 1917, Thelma has been totally restored with most of the original materials, including her Kauri wood hull planking, deckbeams, floors and mast, still in tiptop condition.
A Mediterranean heatwave, with temperatures well into the 30°s and light winds, prevailed for the entire four-day regatta. Lining up for a decent start, therefore, in the generally light airs was more than a little interesting with the likes of Mariette with her whacking 807m2 sail area and Cambria with 758m2 of billowing sails blanketing anything to leeward. The chances of winning that all-important windward slot were a bit of a lottery, to say the least.
However, on the last day we managed to pull off a corker, a text book, port-tack start ahead of the entire fleet. But as luck would have it, as we charging up the first beat in what seemed like our own personal wind with just a handful of other boats, the race committee signalled the race to be cancelled because the majority of the fleet were still on the wrong side of the start line. While we were unable to improve on our 6th place in the overall standings, we were really pleased with Thelma’s performance as we had been managing to hold off the 100-year-old Moonbeam before the race committee blew the whistle.
The sensational party atmosphere back on shore at the regatta village in Port Vauban and in the old town of Antibes continued every day well after the sun went down. With the yachts moored up along Eric Tabarly quay at the main regatta village, hundreds of spectators turned to soak up the unique atmosphere and enjoy the daily prizegivings, local music and entertainment.
If this start to the Mediterranean Classic Yachts Regatta season is anything to go by the remaining events on the calendar (listed below) should be well worth noting:
1-6 September – Veteran Boat Rally, Porto Cervo
7 September – Trophee Grimaldi Coupe Prada, Porto Cervo-Monaco
8-14 September – Monaco Sailing Week-Trophee Prada, Yacht Club de Monaco
20 September – Trophee Grimaldi Coupe Prada, Monaco-Cannes
20-27 September – Regates Royales-Trophee Prada, Cannes
28 September – Trophee Grimaldi Coupe Prada, Cannes-Saint-Tropez
30 September-4 October – Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez