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For a first event the weather gods could not have cooperated better - strong(ish) and mostly fairly steady breezes (see wind charts from Cambermet) with almost continuous sunshine enabled all races to be completed without mishap. The event was held alongside the British Classic Yacht Club who were racing the larger cruiser/racers, including many ex-Fastnet boats such as Lutine, Quiver V and Opposition (ex-Morning Cloud II). The presence of the "big boats" added a spectacular additional dimension, including the 15mR Tuiga and The Lady Anne and the 19mR Mariette and Mariquita.

The series races were sailed on two tracks, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. One committee boat used laid courses and managed to introduce an element of variety with windward spreader marks and leeward gates. The other set round-the-buoys courses and managed to maintain legs with a good balance of upwind and downwind sailing. The 6mR and Darings sailed on one track and the Sunbeams, Redwings and XODs sailed the other, alternating between tracks on different days. Races were typically 2 to 2.5 hours and with two races a day, plus sailing to and from the race area, made for a lot of sailing and crew in need of re-vitalisation at the parties ashore. Since the 8mR and 12mR fleets included a mix of first, second and third rule boats, and were few in number due to a clash with the 8mR Worlds in Hankö and the 12mR Worlds at Flensburg, they sailed in IRC fleets with the British Classic Yacht Club.

On Thursday, a separate race was held to commemorate the centenary of the 1908 Olympics which were held at Ryde, originally run by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Thursday provided the heaviest weather, probably above the wind limit for the boats at times, gusting force 6 and choppy seas, and led to some retirements - Thursday provided the only Easterly which causes the sea to pile up a bit in the far Eastern Solent. A passage race from Cowes to Ryde, with a sausage built into the middle so it wasn't all an uphill slog with wind over tide, got the boats to the start area by Ryde Pier. The original start was off the pierhead but since the pier is now used by ferries, the start was moved to one side - the original start box that housed the (very lonely!) Race Officer has been discovered in the IoW archives and was on display in the Gallery of the Classic Boat Museum where a reception was held.

olympic courses

The original, rectangular Olympic courses for 6mR and 8mR were used, with laid marks where the original buoys used to be. Although it meant a downwind start, actually provided some challenging sailing and some exciting moments, not least due to the steep seas - very different from the 1908 race where the conditions were described as "as unblushed flukes and baffling airs". The 6mR and the other smaller keelboats sailed the 6mR course: Ryde Pier to No.2 Mother Bank Buoy to East Measured Mile Buoy to East Sturbridge Buoy to Ryde, twice round. The 8mR sailed nearly the original course: Ryde to No. 3 Fairway Buoy to West Measured Mile Buoy to Boyne Buoy (which was in a position that is now in the middle of the channel into Portsmouth Harbour, so was moved to the west of the channel to avoid competing with Britanny Ferries!) to Ryde, twice round.

According to Rees Martin "This race proved to be one of those epic contests, with races within races. With increasingly heavy seas and boats taking green water, the Six Metres pulled ahead. The first four tacked, gybed, ran under spinnakers, all within a hundred yards of each other. Behind them, two beautiful Classic Six Metres, Erica and Thistle had their own battle; tacking, bearing away, running for buoys with heart stopping closeness. The last leg to the line was a run under spinnakers. They could have been joined together; as one luffed, the other was forced to follow only to break formation and to drive for the line. Erica managed to hold Thistle off, but it was a close finish". Tom Richardson owner of Thistle said "it was the most exciting racing for years". All the classes had similar stories.

Göran Petersson, President of ISAF and Jerome Pels, the new Director-General of ISAF, watched the start of the racing from the balcony of the original Royal Victoria YC Building, now luxury flats, then joined the sailors on the water. They later attended a celebration dinner for 330 people that evening in Cowes Yacht Haven, at which Alan Titchmarsh, Sheriff of the IoW, gave the after-dinner speech and Bryan Willis (Vice Chairman of the Racing Rules Committee, ISAF) gave a highly ambiguous and amusing interpretation of the racing rules.

So, a wonderful week and a great start to the new regular event. 

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