SPIRIT NEWS Summer 2009
2009 British Classic Yacht Club Regatta – Cowes
...a record attendance of nearly 60 magnificent yachts, with 30 knot+ winds, the round the island race gave an explosive climax to one of the best Regattas seen.
Strega / Spirit 37 battles it out
2009 was the second occasion when Spirit Yachts were invited to attend this wonderful Regatta organized by the BCYC. It was a great pleasure and delight to be amongst such an illustrious fleet – the largest ever for this event - with some very beautiful yachts in attendance. The total entry of nearly sixty yachts spanned many decades and styles, from Alfred Mylnes 'KELPIE', the famous 'LUTINE', the exquisite 'ARGYLL' through to more modern classics such as Ted Heath's 'MORNING CLOUD 11 - now renamed 'OPPOSITION'. Six Spirits raced in the ‘Moderns’ Class, along with the 90’ 'SAVANNAH' and designer Stephen Jones’ own ‘METEOR’.
The Spirits present were:
||Owners: Enrique Lopez Granados and Roger Torras
||Owner: Stephen O'Flaherty
|FLIGHT of Ufford
||Owners: Sean McMillan
||Spirit 46 mk2
||Owner: Tom Hill
||Owner: Hedley Freeman
||Spirit 37 mk2
||Owner: Sandy Fielding
Conditions were full and strong with winds up to 32 knots at times and some record speeds were logged by some of the Spirits, perhaps most notably 21.5 knots in Tom Hill’s Spirit 46 ‘DIDO’ while surfing the front of a wave flying a full symmetric spinnaker in nearly 30 knots of breeze. DIDO finished a very creditable 3rd overall for the week in the Spirit Class.
"Fabulous and very windy regatta, with close racing and very little damage. The heavy conditions allowed Dido to test the upper limits on her downwind performance, and we averaged 16kts through the water for long periods in the West Solent on the Round the Island Race. It was a friendly and fun regatta - yacht racing at its best" (Tom Hill)
The Regatta started with moderate to fresh breezes and built through the week. Racing on Wednesday was cancelled due to very strong winds in the Solent but these did subside enough to allow the Round the Island race to go ahead on Thursday although the strong winds were back with a vengeance by the time the fleet rounded the Needles for the run back to Cowes. At this point the Solent was littered with blown out spinnakers and yachts indulging in some spectacular broaching as the conditions became ever stronger.
The damage was evident on return to the marina with broken gear and blown sails throughout the fleet . However, we are pleased to report that, apart from two blown spinnakers and a broken spinnaker pole, the Spirits came through unscathed, proving their very considerable strength and durability. The Spirits completed all the races with no retirements in what was a very demanding regatta.
Launched just three weeks beforehand, the Spirit 60 ‘DRAGON’ with a scratch crew proved to be astonishingly fast, at one point crossing tacks ahead of the 90 foot ‘SAVANNAH’. For a brand new boat with a scratch crew she was extremely well handled and her asymmetric gybing bordered on a masterclass. We were delighted she could attend the regatta prior to her departure for her home port of Marbella. The Spirit 60 is a brand new design, inspired by the Spirit 54 from which she is a direct evolution, and will be featured on our website in the near future.
Dragon / Spirit 60
The Spirit 54, James Bond's yacht of choice in the film Casino Royale and affectionately knicknamed the 'Bondola' by the film crew in Venice, is now correctly called ‘SOUFRIERE’. Having recently left our yard after a winter refit and upgrading of her rig to full racing specification, she was superbly well sailed by a very strong crew from her home in Ireland and indeed walked off with the overall Spirit Trophy for the week. It was a close run thing, however, and only a few seconds separated her from the indomitable ‘STREGA’. On the very last day, when the exhaustion of the Round the Island race the previous day was evident throughout the fleet, with most yachts reefed and very few spinnakers in evidence, ‘SOUFRIERE’ roared off round the course under full sail and spinnaker in majestic form. We look forward to seeing a lot more of her at future regattas.
What do we say about ‘STREGA’, the unstoppable Spirit 37 owned by Sandy Fielding and always superbly handled by Matt, Maria and Martin. This extraordinary yacht has now collected more prizes than one could list here, from Monaco and Cannes to Cowes via her home port of Lymington, and she added more this week with a Class win in the Round the Island race and 2nd overall in the Spirit Class for the week. She clearly demonstrates the amazing performances that can be achieved by regular racing and practice with a first rate crew.
Herewith an extract from STREGA's own newsletter reproduced elsewhere on this site:
What a week it was! Hardly ideal conditions for the smaller Spirits, and despite winds topping 30 knots at times, in the Spirit class we managed a couple of 3rd places to start the week (including a stunning performance on the helm in the ladies race by our mainsheet trimmer Maria), followed by a win in the Round the Island race, largely thanks to some excellent navigation from Martin. This was particularly sweet for us having pushed the limits too hard in the inaugural Spirit regatta two years ago when, whilst leading the race, we ran aground off Yarmouth and required a tow! Entering the final day leading the regatta by less than a point was the perfect place to be although the winds, topping 30 knots, proved difficult and although we gave it everything we had and the boat behaved superbly, conditions favoured the bigger and worthy adversary ‘Soufriere’ who beat us by seconds on corrected time to take the overall honours for the week. With a third in the first regatta, and a second this time, there can be only one result next year!
Racing and socialising with other Spirits and their crews makes for an unforgettable week, and win or lose on the water the boat remains a joy to sail and still looks as stunning as the day she was launched 8 years ago! In fact the beauty of the boat appears to be an advantage as many starboard tackers will wave us through on port just so they can get a better look at her!!
We were delighted to see the return to Cowes of one of the early Spirits, the 42’ ‘TEQUILA’, now owned by Hedley Freeman. TEQUILA is another superbly well proven boat which endured a savage trip from Ipswich to Cowes in the teeth of very unpleasant south-westerlies but Hedley’s dogged determination to attend the regatta ensured - as he put it - some of the best sailing of his life. The three intrepid gentlemen who sailed TEQUILA on this ‘baptism of fire’ journey, will, we know, not mind us mentioning that their combined age is 200! They were immediately, and very affectionately, christened the ‘Last of The Summer Wine’ team but went on to compete in the regatta in fine style (with a couple of 'ringers' on board for local knowledge...).
Flight of Ufford / Spirit 52
The big excitement for ‘FLIGHT of Ufford’ this year was the addition of a full symmetric spinnaker although with no opportunity to try it out before the regatta started. The learning curve was somewhat steep in the prevailing conditions and very successful until the third successive gybe in nearly 30 knots of breeze caused a fairly spectacular cock-up with the sail . . . As ever, ‘FLIGHT’ looked after us superbly well, though, and suffered no damage or water ingress other than three tiny tears to the new spinnaker.
The general consensus was that it was one of the most challenging regattas but the most exciting ever. While so many of the classics seem to be basing themselves in the Mediterranean these days, in terms of challenging sailing the Solent remains hard to beat. The combination of unpredictable weather, strong tides, wind and sand banks not to mention the possibility of fog, hailstorms and shipping offers challenging competition that will always be a Mecca to competitive yachtsmen.
Soufriere / Spirit 54 / Out in Front
We are extremely grateful to the British Classic Yacht Club for once again inviting Spirit Yachts to attend and for organizing another superbly successful event. The Race Officers set demanding but varied and interesting courses in a very professional manner and our thanks go to them too. A consistent comment throughout the week from everyone was how friendly the whole event was with great sportsmanship in evidence and we look forward to being invited to return at the earliest opportunity!