The inaugural Hamble Classics Regatta got off to a glorious start over the
weekend of 24-25 September with a big entry, big parties, and big weather to
A total of 65 boats ranging from two tiny Herreshoff gaffers to the
mighty Swan 65 Desperado put on show the most inclusive range of classics of
recent Solent-based regattas
When added to the long history of the Royal Southern Yacht Club, now with its
new Prince Philip Yacht Haven being able to accommodate half this classic fleet,
it was an ideal venue, especially when the Elephant Boatyard supplied a
Caribbean-style pontoon rum party along with warm sunshine after Saturday's
racing, as one of six supporting partners.
Others providing generous and enthusiastic support for the event were Spinlock,
Ratsey and Lapthorn, Performance Rigging, Classic Marine, the Sandeman Yacht
Company, plus the River Hamble Harbour Master who backed the audacious plan of
finishing the entire fleet up river to provide the ultimate parade of full sail
if the weather was suitable.
Only minutes before the reggae music was turned on (Tom Richardson says it will
be louder next time!) half the fleet had hurtled up river, some under spinnaker
in 20 knots of southerly breeze requiring two gybes to reach the finish line
just 200 metres down river from the Club.
The first boat home was Steve Powell's International Folkboat Mahjong in IRC
Class 2 proudly taking the gun but soon to be beaten on handicap by John
Mulcahy's Estrella and Jonty Sherwill's Cockleshell, while close behind came the
Gaffer 2 class led by David Pennison's Sepia and the XODs with Mos Fitzgerald's
Kathleen turning the tables on the two earlier wins that day by Hamish Calder's
The bigger boat classes on the outer start line would be safely finished before
the river entrance but not until after a delayed start owing to the late arrival
of some yachts after a freak incident at the Hamble Spit that left Jolie Brise
high and dry for most of the day. With just one long race per day planned for
the gaffer classes, this curtailed JB's ongoing contest with the Cirdan Sailing
Trust's Duet, skippered by Alex Carpenter, both on matching handicaps, and it
was Steve Meakin's Cormorant that won the class chasing home Richard Jacob's
handsome Ivy Green, a modern classic gaffer built by the Elephant Boatyard.
Using a serious handicap system delivered an all-star entry list in IRC Class 1
and Giovanni Belgrano's Whooper revelled in the heavy going on both days, taking
line honours in all three races. Of the chasing pack of three it was Derek
Morland's She 31 Sheelagh that kept ahead of the bigger boats, Breeze, Misty and
Charm of Rhu, only slipping to fourth on handicap in Sunday's final race as the
wind rose to 28 knots.
Usually at home in heavy conditions Richard Loftus' Desperado only got fully
revved up in the final third race of the Sparkman and Stephens Swan Class but
Jonathan Wallis' well-sailed first generation 36 Sheevra was the dominant force
on a 1,1,2, with Lionel and Jan Miller's Swan 38 White Heather in third place,
crewed by their sons and the pet Spaniel!
Arguably the most interesting class was 'Regatta', with unashamedly
'finger-in-the-air' handicapping to accommodate a wide variety of all-comers,
ancient and modern. It included the ultimate icon, Sir Robin-Knox Johnston's
national treasure Suhaili, crewed by his daughter Sara, his grandson and other
friends. Not only did Sir Robin sail in the regatta but on Saturday night he
regaled the packed dining hall at the Royal Southern on his reflections of the
day's activities and his chagrin that the race committee dared to make Suhaili
sail to windward!
At Saturday's Hamble Classics Dinner, the prizes provided by the Race Day
sponsor Spinlock, were presented to the leading boats. During dinner, Sir Robin
signed original copies of his first book 'A World of My Own' that were then sold
in support of the Hamble Classics' nominated charities, the Cirdan Sailing Trust
and Geoff Holt's Wetwheels Hamble, along with donated framed prints from artist
and classic yacht sailor Michael Frith. Added to other donations generously
given during the event, a grand total of nearly £1,000 was raised for these good
In testing conditions accuracy of handicaps counts for little especially when a
boat like Sabrina, designed by the much-hallowed Dr. Thomas Harrison-Butler, is
in the firm hands of Volvo Race sailor Craig Nutter, wife Kate and their two
youngsters. They won the Regatta Class in emphatic style with clear wins ahead
of one of the three David Cheverton-designed yachts at the regatta, Scimitar,
and the Hamble-based Nicholson 32 Bambella of Peter Halliday and Charles
In the open boat classes Andy Short's Nancy took the 6-Metre trophy, Adrian
Green's Aurora won the two-boat Dragon class from Rupert Street's Tchuss, whilst
Hamish Calder dominated the 10-boat entry XODs. Unfortunately, neither the
fabulous looking 8-Metre Ganymede (Jack Gifford) nor Miss U (Avia Willment),
made it to the finish line without suffering breakage.
Delivering this successful first Hamble Classics Regatta required a dedicated
team, none more so than Race Officers Peter Bateson and Tony Lovell,
and after a long list of thanks at the hushed awards ceremony, class prizes were
followed by the special trophies and Concours d'Elegance awards.
The 'Tea-for-Two' Trophy for best shorthanded performance, in memory of John and
Dick Sherwill, was won by Craig Cossar and Natalie Gray aboard the Contessa 26
Applejack, and the Kismet Model Yacht Trophy for most enthusiastic and fun crew
went to Mark and Susie Tomson with their very young children aboard Destina.
Other prizes for the younger sailors went to Lillian McPherson on Samiotisa,
Sophie Aisher and Penny Roger on Thalia, and Jack and Molly Nutter on Sabrina.
For the Concours awards, the best GRP yacht was judged to be Robbie Boulter's
Breeze, a fine 1964 example of the C. William Lapworth designed Cal 40. For
Concours d'Authenticité it was another American yacht stealing the limelight,
Jason Fry's exquisite 1946 Philip L. Rhodes designed Shantih of Cowes however,
the overall Concours d'Elegance winner for 2016 was Nick and Liz Harvey's
pre-1912 Falmouth Quay punt Sophie, in totally immaculate order.
Commenting on the weekend, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said, "I thought the whole
event was most enjoyable. It is just what yachting should be about."
With overwhelming demand from competitors for the event to be repeated, those
looking for an easier alternative to trucking yachts to the Mediterranean
regattas are invited to consider the Hamble Classics as a potential alternative.
The full race results are available at:
Report: Jonty Sherwill Images: Chris Gillingham
See the VRsport.tv event video below
The 2016 Hamble Classics Regatta was delighted
to be supporting these two charities:
The Cirdan Sailing Trust.
operates three large sailing vessels to provide young people, in particular
those who are disadvantaged or at risk of social or educational exclusion, with
self-development, integration and learning opportunities through the challenge
and discipline of life at sea.
The idea for Wetwheels
was conceived by Royal Southern Yacht Club Honorary member Geoff Holt MBE, to
provide boating opportunities for people of all ages and all abilities.